An Examination of Students' Intercultural Maturity in Course-based Experiential Learning : A Case Study in International Higher Education

Williams, Jacqulyn and Saunders, Murray (2022) An Examination of Students' Intercultural Maturity in Course-based Experiential Learning : A Case Study in International Higher Education. PhD thesis, Lancaster University.

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The aim of this qualitative case study was to examine how educators, associated with the Zones of Conflict, Zones of Peace program, a credit-bearing capstone experiential learning course at an international branch campus, shaped the learning environment through various approaches and practices to facilitate students’ development of intercultural maturity. This qualitative inquiry included analysis of primary data including application materials; syllabus and course description; assignments and group work; interviews and focus group data; and students’ reflections to identify the underlying dynamics, aspects, and conditions related to how students experienced intercultural learning to identify the underlying dynamics, aspects, and conditions that prompted students’ intercultural learning and development. By dynamics, I mean the manner in which educators engaged with students throughout the program experience, its intercultural components, and how students engaged across difference. Analysis of the data indicated that the majority of study participants experienced growth in all three dimensions of intercultural maturity. Student participants that possessed a strong sense of self and were comfortable shifting perspectives and using multiple frames across a variety of contexts, likewise demonstrated greater comfort in engaging in meaningful relationships with diverse others. Findings from this case study confirmed that authentic, ongoing engagement with diverse others, critical self-reflection, and guided mentorship factored significantly in terms of facilitating participants’ intercultural maturity. Evidence indicated that study participants benefited from educators’ international backgrounds and experiences, particularly their established international networks and Partnerships, which in this case study, were leveraged to immerse students and bring them into direct contact with diverse others. One interesting outcome is that participants, in response to the realities of the international branch campus context, understood themselves within broad social, cultural, and global contexts. Findings may help to address a significant gap in the literature insofar as the nature and extent of what is understood about how educators conceive of and enact global and intercultural learning as well as how students experience and make sense of intercultural experiences in broad, inclusive internationalized higher education contexts. Likewise, knowledge generated from this study may provide scholars, fellow researchers and educators useful insights regarding how to frame and integrate global and intercultural learning into experiential education and curricular programming in varied educational contexts.

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Thesis (PhD)
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08 Mar 2022 12:55
Last Modified:
16 Jul 2024 05:58