Vol. Two - Issue Three - Dec 2008

Published: December 2008

Editorial: Hearing and Responding to Student Voices

Hearing and responding to the student voice threads strongly through the articles in this issue of BeJLT. Some of the articles originate from this year’s Brookes Student Learning Experience Conference focused on ‘Enhancing Student Engagement’ and others from the Internationalisation of the Curriculum Conference on ‘Using Formal and Informal Curricula to Improve Interactions between Home and International Students’. The articles cover internationalisation, assessment and research in the undergraduate curriculum, all strategic priorities for Brookes.

Aaron Porter (Vice President, Academic) for the National Union of Students challenges us to involve students in all aspects of university life, including curriculum development and quality assurance. He writes of the ever-changing world of today and the need to be able to respond rapidly. For their part the NUS are now training students for expanding roles as partners in higher education.

Viv Thom describes an intervention that allowed international students to safely share their experiences at the International Consortium of Staff Developers Conference and how the resources generated have fed into development activities for staff and students. Continuing the internationalisation theme, Hilary Rollin considers the benefits of the multicultural language-learning classroom to promote the student experience of internationalisation, and offers strategies that could be used by others. Mary Woolliams further offers ideas for approaches to incorporating global perspectives into our teaching.

Student voices are recognised in a different way by Helen Walkington and Alan Jenkins by extending the student experience of research at undergraduate level into publication, the students being involved in all stages of publication of two student journals.

The continued lack of confirmation in the National Student Survey that we are doing a good job in assessment and feedback is responded to by the Centre for Excellence in Teaching and Learning, the Assessment Standards and Knowledge Exchange, in an Assessment Manifesto. Margaret Price and her colleagues advocate assessment for learning rather than assessment for the measurement of learning and call for the improvement of communication between staff, students, employers, professional bodies and the government. Finally, Mary Davis and Freda Yang follow up on their work using Turnitin as a learning tool for students, this time illustrating its usefulness for international students and students with dyslexia.

These papers present a strong challenge to staff to redevelop their curricula, actively listening to the voices of today’s students and working in collaboration with them.

Valerie Clifford,


BeJLT Editorial Committee

From this issue:

Voices from the Multicultural Language Class: Discovering Language, Culture, Others and Self

The multicultural language-learning classroom, with its wide range of mother tongues, cultural backgrounds, motivations, expectations, prior knowledge, learning styles, attitudes to participation and learner autonomy, potentially offers an ideal forum for promoting internationalisation. This article reviews the scope for interaction, and the nature of interaction, in multilingual language-learning classrooms. It explores the extent to which students are expected to engage effectively in the classroom and presents student views based on data gathered through questionnaires and semi-structured interviews.

It concludes that languages staff and students see language classes as offering a more even playing field for classroom interaction between home and international students than other modules. On the one hand it points out the need to constantly adapt provision to meet changing demand, and on the other that the strategies used in language classes could well be of interest to other disciplines.

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Documenting Complexity: ‘The incorporation of global perspectives’ in the higher education…

This paper summarises the findings of a small-scale research study, the aim of which was to explore the intentions of teachers who stated that they ‘incorporate global perspectives’ into their teaching. Seven teachers of health care professionals, working in a variety of higher education institutions around the UK, were interviewed using a semi-structured interview technique.

The interview schedules were analysed using Radnor’s framework for interpretive analysis (Radnor, 2002), in order to identify commonalities and differences both in relation to the teachers’ intentions and in relation to the different teaching activities they described. A range of perspectives were identified amongst the teachers, who were found to have a variety of personal motivations for incorporating global perspectives into their teaching. They described a wide variety of strategies for doing so, both in terms of the content of their teaching and in terms of the teaching processes they used. The results of the study illustrate the complexities both of defining ‘global perspectives’ in relation to higher education, and of identifying the underlying motivations that teachers and institutions may have for incorporating global perspectives into higher professional education.

As a result of analysing the interviews, a simple framework was devised to assist individual teachers when reflecting on how they might incorporate global perspectives into their teaching. It is believed that this framework could assist teachers to explore and reflect on their teaching practices—both the content of their teaching and the processes through which they facilitate student learning. The framework may also be of value to those at programme, institutional and wider levels who wish to explore how global perspectives can be incorporated into teaching within higher education.

The findings of the study suggest that there is a lack of clarity in relation to terminology used in relation to this topic area. The author proposes that to ensure progress in research and practice, a clearer set of terminology should be agreed upon to allow teachers to discuss their intentions and experiences using a shared language that is clearly understood by all.

Although the study focused specifically on the experiences of teachers of health care professionals, it is believed that the findings of this study are relevant to teachers of other subject areas in higher education.

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Going Global: Presentations of international student voices and the promotion of intercultural …

A critical element in the successful internationalisation of any organisation is the level of intercultural understanding, and universities are increasingly called upon to develop such qualities among staff and students. This paper explores some of the limitations and challenges that universities face in developing successful intercultural engagement. It also describes a simple intervention designed to create a safe platform for international students to share experiences, with each other and with academics, about issues of identity, learning and teaching, and the academic and social challenges of transition. The processes that produced the presentations were useful to the participants and have been used to bring together the experiences of home and international students, contributing intercultural understanding to training activities for various student and staff projects, in a UK university.

“They let me know about the place they live in, their values, and their life style. I hope one day I could travel to their cities, I hope one day we could still have the opportunity to meet each other.” Chinese Student

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Embedding Undergraduate Research Publication in the Student Learning Experience

This article outlines a gap in the research cycle as experienced by undergraduates and discusses how engaging with the process of publication, in its broadest sense, can allow students to complete the research process. The paper argues that learners at all levels can be supported to publish their work through embedding a variety of forms of dissemination in the curriculum. It also discusses the way in which new technology can contribute to undergraduate research publication. Arguing that all undergraduates should be given the opportunity to disseminate their research work, the paper outlines ten strategies to facilitate the publication of undergraduate research.

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Assessment Standards: A Manifesto for Change

By: Professor Margaret Price, Berry O’Donovan, Dr Chris Rust, Jude Carroll Introduction Assessment standards lie at the heart of the assessment process underpinning assessment strategy, design and marking. For students, assessment standards provide guidance for their learning and allow them

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The Importance of the Learner Voice

What comes into your mind when I use the words ‘student representation’? Aaron Porter When we think about student representation and the way it has changed over time, the tendency is to think structurally, to consider all the tools that

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Encouraging International and Dyslexic Students to Develop Better Learning Strategies

This study is an attempt to foster greater involvement by international and dyslexic students in learning strategies at the formative stage of academic writing through structured tutorial sessions using Turnitin. The difficulties with academic writing for international students may stem from a lack of knowledge of UK academic conventions and language problems, while those for dyslexic students may be due to problems with manipulation of language. Through a discussion of results from Turnitin reports on draft assignments, students were encouraged to make use of formative feedback to improve on final drafts and to engage more in their own learning.

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