This article evaluates ways in which students on an online Master's programme are learning about citizenship and developing intercultural awareness in spite of the lack of face-to-face interaction. There is still debate about the effectiveness of online courses and whether they provide an adequate substitute for, or even an improvement on, classroom-based learning. We employ qualitative research methods and deploy instruments for analysing constructivist learning to evaluate the extent to which students are constructing knowledge through online discussions as well as learning from research-led teaching materials. We also analyse online discussions for evidence of social presence, including the interventions of the course tutor. We conclude that students do feel themselves to be members of an international learning community and that their interactions can promote higher-order learning. We draw attention to some advantages of online courses such as the possibility of crafting a contribution and the availability of discussions as a resource.
How can students develop intercultural awareness and construct knowledge together?
Hugh Starkey and Nicola Savvides
This article reports on the incorporation of visual material as a tool for learning sociology and discusses a poster assignment introduced as a means of assessment in an academic context committed to innovative learning strategies and to teaching and learning enhancement. The article draws on an evaluation of using the poster assignment to assess student learning and argues that visual images can provide valid and insightful ways of 'telling about society' which challenge the reliance on text as a means of teaching and learning sociology. The article explores the context in which visual materials are used in teaching and learning sociology and their impact on and significance for assessment and learning.
A wide variety of British universities are expanding efforts to attract international students. This article argues that higher education's implicit claim to all-inclusive 'universality' may hereby be challenged by subsequent issues of cultural particularity. Here I set to conceptualise possible differences in the learning culture of Asian international students through a Confucian-Socratic framework. The Socratic method, our archetypal Occidental model, is traditionally seen as an experiential learner-centred pedagogy that values creativity and intellectual independence. But the Confucian approach, the archetypal Oriental exemplar, is normally presented as a didactic teaching-centred pedagogy with greater emphasis on strategic, directed thinking. I conclude that refl ection in these ways may lead to a culturally sensitive form of education and also help identify the epistemological and ontological dimensions that enhance a more flexible approach to teaching and learning.
Stephanie A. Limoncelli
The increasing internationalisation of social science curricula in undergraduate education along with the growth of service-learning has provided new opportunities to join the two. This article offers a reflection and discussion of service-learning with placements in international nongovernmental organisations (INGOs), drawing from its application in an undergraduate globalisation course in the United States. I argue that service-learning can be a useful pedagogical approach for helping students to think actively about themselves in relation to other people, other places and as part of broader global and transnational processes.
Using Photovoice to Address Stigma in the Age of AIDS
Learning Together Project
Learning Together Project
Th e photographs in this essay were taken by grade eight and nine girls in one rural school in KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa in response to the question: What is the face of stigma in our community in the context of HIV and Aids? Th e girls used inexpensive point-and-shoot cameras to document the issues on location at their school, staging scenes that tell critical stories of the impact of stigma on the community. Once they had taken the photographs they developed captions which speak to the issues that they were working to represent. Some wrote in isiZulu while others chose to write in English. Th e isiZulu captions were translated into English. The images in this photovoice project help to identify, understand and interpret incidents related to stigma and discrimination against people living with, and aff ected by, HIV and AIDS.
Action research reform of a US study abroad programme in Seville, Spain
Eva Infante Mora and Davydd J. Greenwood
CASA-Sevilla is a study abroad programme for US university students with an advanced level of Spanish. In recent years, new patterns of social behaviour among students (mainly the use of technology and low-cost flights) aggravated their difficulties in establishing contacts with the local society, which often resulted in the perpetuation of stereotypes. The programme goals of cultural immersion and language improvement were therefore at risk. Through an action research and a participatory organisational development process, CASA-Sevilla stakeholders carried out a profound reform of the programme, based on the principles of active pedagogy, mentoring and community-engaged learning. This section illustrates this reform process, with its highlights and shadows.
Studying abroad can be a life-altering experience, but not necessarily. I credit the two study-abroad experiences I had as an undergraduate as setting my course as an anthropologist. At this stage in my career, having directed, taught and evaluated five study-abroad programmes in three different countries, I felt ready to create my own based on the pros and cons I had observed. In December 2013, I completed a pilot run of a binational learning community focused on food, culture and social justice in Ecuador and Oregon and would like to share the experience in order to encourage other higher education teachers to invent similar programmes. It is not an easy model to pull off, especially in a large state institution, but it achieved the kind of coherence that I have found lacking in other study-abroad programmes and was a very satisfying teaching/learning experience. I will outline some issues concerning study-abroad programmes and then describe
the programme I was involved in implementing in 2013.
This article seeks to build on current and emerging conceptions of teacher expertise as they relate to education for civic engagement and social awareness in the university classroom context. I explore the notion of teaching tensions between vulnerability and authority, authenticity and distance, safety and challenge, disclosure and neutrality, and social transformation as against individual agency. I argue that these tensions and the teacher decision-making processes involved in their navigation can add to university instructors' capacity to reflect on and evaluate curriculum design decisions when aiming to impact student social and civic identity development. I examine teaching tensions and their dynamic interaction through a self-study of my own teaching and of involving the students in a structured academic service-learning partnership with school pupils in a social studies methods course for pre-service teachers in the United States.
Molly Scott Cato
Whilst the importance of mainstreaming sustainability in higher education curricula is now widely acknowledged, the challenge for educators at university level is to develop and maintain authority and confidence in an area dominated by limited knowledge and uncertainty. This article suggests that the most empowering and authentic response is to adopt an approach of shared learning, but with the pedagogue demonstrating expertise and inspiration. I suggest that this is an approach to learning and teaching more familiar in areas of craft learning, characterised by apprenticeship and learning-by-doing. The article relies heavily on the work of Richard Sennett in providing a sociological account of craft learning, which is then applied to the field of sustainability. I explore how his three modes of instruction – 'sympathetic illustration', 'narrative' and 'metaphor' – are being used in the field of sustainability education, and draw parallels from the craft of basket weaving in particular, to show how these approaches might be developed. I conclude by suggesting that sustainability education is best undertaken within a community and in place, rather than abstractly and in the classroom.
Phil Wood, Paul Warwick and Derek Cox
Consideration of the physical environment in which learning takes place has become a growing area of academic interest over the past decade. This study focuses on the experiences and perceptions of academic staff and students who used three refurbished, and innovative, learning spaces at the University of Leicester. The results suggest that the physical environment can have an impact on the emotional and motivational experiences of students and staff. However, there is some suggestion that learning space development should not be at the expense of approaches to pedagogy which do not foreground the use of technologies.
The analysis of the users' experiences leads to the proposition of a theoretical model for the apt design of future learning spaces in Higher Education. The DEEP learning space framework outlines the need for careful consideration being given to dynamic, engaging, ecological and participatory (DEEP) dimensions within the twenty-first century learning space.