Best Practices Conference in 2001
Best Practices Conference, June 14-17, 2001
Friday, June 15, 9:00-10:30 am; Workshop, 11:00 am - 12:30 pm
Developing Cultural Context and Intercultural Competence
A liberal arts education has always provided students with perspectives -- different ways of examining themselves and the world around them. Educators know that the most elusive perspectives are those that seem most natural, such as (in the West) "objectivity" or "human rights." By this token, culture may be the most difficult of all perspectives to apprehend, since it provides us with the very experience of normality.
But if we cannot bring our own cultural context into perspective, then we cannot take the perspective of culturally-different others. And when we cannot take the perspective of others, we cannot imagine their reality. And if we do not imagine their reality, we cannot be competent in the intercultural communication demanded by multicultural societies and global internationalities.
Dr. Bennett will use a developmental approach to address the questions:
The process of
internationalization at Beloit College has taken place in earnest
for more than forty years, resulting in a depth and breadth that has
made possible rapid advancement in the past decade, and the promise
of "next generation" curricular developments within the next few years.
What are the elements of this process, what are its catalysts, and
what are the potential obstacles and pitfalls? Can internationalization
be comprehensive and inclusive without alienating the traditional
international constituencies on campus?
Our basic argument is this: Liberal education is never out of date, but, at the same time, must be constantly reworked to engage profitably the imperatives of moments of great and durable turbulence. Consequently, at Macalester College, we think, and practice, that the abiding assignments of liberal learning must be socketed into the complicated vagaries of the age of globalization.
This presentation is in two parts. First, we will attempt to discern the key and lasting attributes of liberal education, identify the contours of our epoch, display Macalester's internationalist strategies and actual structures, and round off with a brief description of two most critical courses in our International Studies academic program. Part two will focus on examples of other elements of Macalester's international programs: Study Abroad and Faculty Development International Seminars. For the former, attention will be given to how we think about study abroad, while mindful of the competing metaphors of "journey" and "predicament"; for the latter, we will explore how institutions of higher learning might best invest in faculty members to cultivate a more transnational outlook. Examples of faculty development will be drawn from Macalester's international seminars in Hungary, Brazil, South Africa, and Malaysia.
A team-taught course designed for students who are returning from off-campus studies or who have lived abroad, or for anyone who has had the experience of being an outsider, this course will explore theories and models of intercultural competence and intercultural transition. Using the actual experiences of the students in class as its evidence, it will first develop theories about the nature of intercultural contact, and then test their usefulness by applying them to the analysis of specific historical and literary evidence and to additional intercultural experiences found in the course's field-learning component.
The course proposes to highlight the multiple identities that student develop in intercultural situations, and challenge and support students' exploration of transitions and cultural marginality. The pedagogy is firmly grounded in field-based learning, coupling theory with practice. The course will add the additional layer of using evidence within a specific discipline, depending on the faculty instructor's own background, to inform both the students' theoretical understanding and their personal reflections. Students will also be expected to demonstrate their mastery of the course content by reapplying intercultural skills and insights in new ways.
While much attention has been appropriately focused on how to internationalize the faculty and curriculum of a college, administrative offices and student services are often overlooked. In the quest to be "international," many colleges envision a single, comprehensive international office that will provide core services to students and faculty. This is a central finding of the pioneering dissertation of Brenda Ellingboe, Internationalizing the Private Liberal Arts College: A Comparative, Five-College Study of Components, Strategies, and Recommendations (University of Minnesota, 1999). A hazard of this comprehensive approach, however, is that other offices may become overly dependent on the international office and even overwhelm it with demands and referrals. The presenters of this workshop will argue that the international office should prevent this kind of dependency with a program of education, training, and partnership so that all offices develop their own base of international perspective, knowledge, and means of support. A college becomes a truly international campus when its infrastructure fully supports the internationalizing efforts of the faculty and the curriculum.
offices at Oberlin and DePauw serve international students and off-campus
study and each works well with a number of other offices. The Oberlin
office has strong connections with international admissions and the
counseling center, while the DePauw office coordinates well with the
registrar and the library. In this practical, highly participatory
workshop, we will explore ways to strengthen and integrate the international
perspectives and services provided by other offices such as the dean
of students, academic support, residential life, athletics, health,
career counseling, financial aid, and development. The participants
will leave the workshop with specific information on what works and
a range of ideas for how the infrastructure of a college can compliment
and complete the goal to be "international."
The Integrative Cultural Research Project (ICRP) grew out of a task force that reviewed the study abroad program during the 1991-1992 academic year. The project was initially modeled on the ethnography project format used for more than a decade at Earlham College in Richmond, Indiana. During the early '90's, the study abroad program instituted the projects to facilitate greater cultural integration of the students into the fabric and structure of everyday life in their host cities. Over the past eight years, the projects have expanded beyond ethnography to include field studies, internships, service learning, and community service. Bearing an academic credit, the projects place great emphasis on participation, informed by observation and more traditional research activities. The Integrative Cultural Research Project forms a part of the academic program which students participating in all Kalamazoo-sponsored study abroad programs and a few of the non-Kalamazoo programs complete while on study abroad. The primary goal of the project is to encourage and allow students to involve themselves directly in the local culture in a project of significance to them and the local community.
Spanish for the Professors, initiated at Rollins College in AY '00-'01, is an innovative program that utilizes a collaborative faculty development project to effect true internationalization of the college's curriculum. The program is based on a few simple premises: 1) true internationalization of the curriculum cannot take place without true internationalization of the faculty; and 2) true internationalization of the faculty cannot take place without the faculty's development of practical foreign languages abilities.
Spanish for the Professors is a three-part endeavor currently in progress. In Part One, faculty, administrators, and staff from across the college (faculty participants represent 17 distinct programs, including Graduate Business, Graduate Counseling, Economics, Mathematics, Environmental Studies, Art, English, Politics, Biology, etc.) are completing a full year of Elementary College Spanish under the tutelage of two regular faculty from the Spanish program. Classes meet twice per week, with a third review and practice class per week encouraged but not required. Course materials include regular college-level texts with strong Web-based components (thus allowing extensive opportunities to practice speaking, reading, and writing on-line).
In Part Two, which will take place May 17-27, 25 faculty will travel to Spain to complete the capstone component of the program. While in Madrid, participants will complete simple everyday tasks that require speaking and comprehension skills in Spanish. The group will then travel to the University of Oviedo, in Asturias, Spain, where they will meet and interact with Spanish professors from that university with similar professional interests.
Part Three of the program consists of three parts: 1) upon return to campus, faculty will have the opportunity to be mainstreamed in our regular intermediate level Spanish courses in order to continue to improve their skills in the language; 2) it is hoped that contacts made with their peers in Spain will lead to collaborative efforts in the area of research and pedagogy. Such a process is facilitated by the fact that Rollins has recently moved its semester study abroad program in Spain to the University of Oviedo and Rollins students currently are studying there. It may not be uncommon in the near future for students to begin courses in a subject at Rollins, and continue study in the same field in Spain, thanks to collaborative pedagogy projects undertaken by their professors at both institutions. 3) Finally, it is hoped that given the success and ongoing nature of the program, that external funding will be found to provide for regular faculty (and student) exchange between institutions.
In addition to the goals of collaborative professional development and internationalization of the curriculum, Spanish for the Professors has provided many other benefits to the College. Faculty who had in the past expressed concern over a lack of a sense of community on campus found that the program provided them with group intellectual endeavor that broke down barriers between divisions and schools. Placing themselves in the role of students provided many faculty with a perspective on their teaching that they had long forgotten, and changes in teaching styles and expectations for students were subsequently modified. An energy, synergy, and new excitement about learning and intellectual collaboration renewed and refreshed many who were involved in the project (including the instructors).
Spanish for the Professors was developed by Roy Kerr, Professor of Spanish at Rollins College, in collaboration with Alberto Prietoo-Calixto, Assistant Professor of Spanish.
Students who have not traveled abroad or had prolonged contact with recognizably different cultures often feel that they have little or no knowledge concerning intercultural interaction, and may even fear such encounters. Defining cultures as "a group of people with their own way of doing things," this exercise uses a culture to which everyone has access, the family, to provide a hands-on experience which makes intercultural interaction seem less threatening by showing that all students have considerable experience with such interactions. Principles which can be demonstrated by this exercise include the following.
Follow-up exercises are being developed to extend and apply the lessons of the Family Culture exercise to differences between ethnic groups and between Americans and people from other countries.
Orientation and Re-entry at Centre College: A Minimalist Approach
Centre College is a small (1,050 students), liberal arts school located in small town (Danville, 18,000) in the small, land-locked state of Kentucky. Over the past decade, we have gone from a few short-term overseas programs serving only a small minority of our students to an aggressive overseas program that attracts about two-thirds of our student at some point during their college career. They study abroad in two different ways:
Centre faculty members direct and teach in the residential campuses on a rotating basis; Centre faculty members plan, lead, and teach the winter-term courses. The costs to students for the residential programs are essentially the same as studying in Danville, with the exception that students arrange and pay for their airfare. The costs to students of winter-term trips varies from $1,500-$3,000, with Centre subsidies going to any senior on need-based aid who has not yet studied abroad.
Partly because our international programs have grown so quickly, and partly because the director of study-abroad programs is not a full-time (but rather a one-third time) position at Centre, we have done very little with orientation and re-entry. The director of international programs and dean of students meet with each group before its leaves for the standard warning about drugs and bad behavior. And future directors meet informally with their students a couple of times before the program begins. But this is pretty much it, at least on a regular basis. More formal activities have been tried from time to time, but have not proven worthwhile enough to continue. Our extensive general-education requirements make it very difficult for students going abroad to take a preparatory course, although this has been tried.
Because about 45 students are studying abroad in both the fall and spring terms, one residence hall is dubbed "the study-abroad house," so that most of a group going away in the spring will be living in some proximity to one another the prior fall, and most of those away in the fall will be living in some proximity in the spring. This would seem to provide a good opportunity for orientation and re-entry activities--but, essentially, they have not occurred. Since the overseas programs have grown and prospered rapidly, we have simply not felt the pressure to do much on these counts.
Perhaps, in this shrinking world where students can be in instant email communication with everyone else, and some cultural differences are less apparent than in the past, extensive orientation and de-briefing are not as important as they previously were? Or perhaps a real orientation to another culture is only possible on site? (Or perhaps these are mere rationalizations for our own ineptitude and/or laziness?)
Orientation and Re-entry at St. Olaf College: A Developed Model
Orientation and re-entry are vital to off-campus study programs. They are intertwined and complimentary. They are what makes a good program even better and a poor program worse.
St. Olaf College offers an orientation/re-entry program to all students who study off-campus, either domestically or internationally for a semester/year or January interim. The orientation is a mix of large group and small group sessions tailored to fit the needs of each site and program.
St. Olaf has a 25-year history of orientation and re-entry for students. Each year improvements are made from information shared by those involved in the orientation. Changes, additions, deletions are common-all to improve on the quality of the orientation and to suit the ever-changing needs of students.
What makes the St. Olaf College orientation/re-entry unique? The most important and unique aspect of our orientation is the involvement of faculty program advisers and returned students in the process. International and Off-Campus Studies sets up the shell of the orientation, but the real work is carried out by the faculty and returned students.
This serves many purposes for both groups. The faculty oversight and involvement sets the tone for the importance of off-campus study as an academic experience. The faculty adviser knows the program, has advised the students interested in the program, has made the selection of the students, does the orientation and follows up with 90-minute re-entry sessions. There is an investment in the quality of the program. The returned students use their first-hand knowledge of the off-campus study program to share the most current information and answer questions. Also, returned student involvement serves the purpose of continued re-entry for those who desire it and at times need it.
The liberal arts
setting (especially the residential campus) has the unique advantage
of having most students on campus and willing to participate in orientation
and re-entry. There is often a closeness between faculty and student.
It is a place where a chemistry students can study in the Middle East
or a math major can study in Asia and not jeopardize their major.
The whole student is taken into account, rather than only the major
area of study. St. Olaf College has been fortunate to have the administrative
and faculty backing to make programs available and encouraged to all
students. Students have greatly benefitted from this philosophy.
This workshop will focus on the effectiveness of simulation exercises in structured pre-departure orientations/re-entry sessions. Simulation games provide a dynamic training method that involves the use of metaphor to understand cultural value and attitude. The transfer of value and cultural understanding through simulation games is recognized as a powerful tool; however, the reflection upon a shared experience and resulting awareness of its value beyond a game is where the cultural understanding occurs.
Although the simulation itself must be run well, the key to the educational value of the exercise is the skillful facilitation of the debriefing component. Constructing a debriefing exercise with clear goals and expectations is what makes the simulation a successful pedagogical tool. In terms of study abroad, the pre-departure orientation and re-entry sessions are where the value of debriefing is captured.
The workshop discussion will focus on issues related to the essential link between the pre-departure orientation, the study abroad experience and the integration of this experience into an educational framework. This process of preparation, participation and reflection as a model for study abroad will serve as the focal point of the workshop. The final analysis will also touch upon the theoretical framework of this methodology and provide practical techniques for the teacher/facilitator interested in working with simulation games to promote cross-cultural understanding.
This comment at the conclusion of a study-abroad experience often stands as a kind of validation of the academic program for students. Students, study abroad professionals and even faculty often blur the distinction between academic progress and personal enrichment through experiential activities.
In a recent New York Times article, ("La Dolce Semester"), Glenn Altschuler offered the following observations: "When it builds on language study or work in an academic major, studying overseas can be a stimulating, even transformative intellectual experience. For Jill Schondebare, who is majoring in animal science, researching wildlife management in Kenya was 'my best semester at Cornell.'"
More often than the enthusiasts would like to admit, however, the good reasons for study abroad are not always the reasons motivating undergraduates. Another Cornell undergraduate, Alejandro Varela, acknowledges that he was attracted to Seville, Spain, because of the lower drinking age and "vacation aspect."
"No matter how I did in school, it would not be calculated into my G.P.A.," he said. He and his buddies "relaxed five or six days a week-and that was when we were not traveling." They spent time with other Americans, rarely socializing or studying with Spaniards. The five months in Seville, Alejandro maintains, "was my favorite college semester."
It is difficult to know whether Alejandro's experience is more typical than Jill's. In a recent doctoral dissertation, Lisa Chieffo, the study-abroad coordinator at the University of Delaware, wrote that studies measuring the benefits of an academic sojourn yielded mixed, inconclusive and sometimes surprising results. Because study abroad "seems intuitively to be a good thing to do," she wrote, "it is tempting for administrators to assume that such an experience must have positive benefits."
As colleagues involved in study abroad, we have an obligation to provide our students, our colleagues, our institutions and in some instances, outside constituencies, with evidence to document the positive academic outcomes from the increasingly expensive and growing popularity of study abroad opportunities.
This interactive session will focus on the strategies to assess the quality and outcomes for students who study abroad. Other assessment instruments are geared to looking at study abroad programs as a whole. IES has a workable approach through their MAP project and I will provide samples of the methods we employ at St. Olaf College to assess programs. But at this session we will devote our attention to an analysis of how to assess individual student learning on off-campus study programs.
Service-Learning is often viewed as a supplemental course activity with the potential to capture student interest and show the course's relevance to the "real world." The presenters see it differently. Service-Learning is best understood as a distinctive pedagogy. Its text is the "real world," to be sure, but the point of service and reflection upon it is to achieve the course objectives, and in turn the aims of liberal education. Liberal education is liberating education. It challenges both student and teacher to self-critical awareness of one's cultural location, the assumptions and values that inform that location, and the inescapable task of forming oneself in response to it.
The model of education as the accumulation and imparting of scholarship, though not rejected, is challenged by service-learning pedagogy in several ways. Questions are effectively answered only when they are first effectively raised. By its nature as engagement with the world, service-learning invites students to raise questions that flow from experience and find answers that illuminate such experience. The resources of scholarship come alive as hypotheses to be tested against the facts encountered. The dichotomy between scholarship as an end in itself and as valued only for its pragmatic value is overcome by a pedagogy that moves from the search for explanations of experience to intelligent action that addresses the problems raised by it. As one answer to the problem of facts soon forgotten, service-learning offers to cultivate a disposition to critically engage the very stuff one's ongoing engagement with the world.
It is no accident that the service-learning movement has arisen at a time when colleges and universities seek to identify their purpose, and their responsibility to a society larger than the campus. In the case of Rhodes, we have found that just beyond the protective fence are communities of need, difference, and fascination that welcome our involvement and educate our students. The institutions and agencies that serve those communities can become willing partners in the liberating education of students and faculty. The marked differences and accompanying cultural shock that characterize service-learning trips to Honduras lie in wait three blocks from our campus. Making palpable the connections and visible the one world we inhabit is integral to the strategy of a thoughtful service-learning program for today's educational mission.
The presenters will develop this perspective on service-learning and liberal education, and illustrate the attempt to implement it at home and abroad -at home in the surrounding Memphis community, and abroad in the ACS Service-Learning Maymester in Honduras. We will present one response of members of our faculty and institution to engage students in the "complex, global society" at our doorstep.
"Contextos" is a "multimedia textbook" designed for an "Introduction to Hispanic Culture" taught at Denison University in the Spring of 2001. It includes still images, songs, video-clips, and articles delivered through the web and accessed by students anytime and anywhere on campus.
The material is organized around twelve topics. Some of them may illustrate what Milton Bennett calls "The Objective Culture" (the institutions of culture): art, history, social relations; others illustrate the "Subjective Culture" (the everyday life of Latin Americans or Spaniards): the informal economy, soccer, a Spanish house, popular religiosity, the soap opera. "Contextos" provides an opportunity for students to shift perspectives across cultural boundaries. It is based on two simple pedagogic strategies: a) non-evaluative descriptions of events; and b) making connections among events in order to create a context in order to evaluate them.
Because of its structure in topics and the environment in which has been developed, "Contextos" has a great potential for interinstitutional collaboration. ViewPoints, one component of "Contextos" is, in itself, a project developed by The Five Colleges of Ohio. To learn more about this project you may visit the ViewPoints web-page at: www.denison.edu/modlangs/lang_tech/Conv.html
"Contextos" is copyright compliant. Its web-page is password protected. Participants to the conference will receive a temporal password to access it.
will explore the role of reflective practices in learning and the
ways such practices can be used effectively in college courses and
experiences outside the classroom. With the increased focus on complementing
traditional college courses with experiential learning (such as service-learning
and international education), reflection will likely become a more
common class activity. Many authors in education consider reflective
observation an integral part of taking students from concrete experience
to abstract conceptualization and active experimentation. Others suggest
the need for additional critical reflection to assist students in
making the leap from questions of "what" and "how" to deeper questions
of "why." In this presentation, the rationale and some possible techniques
for structured reflection (e.g., discussion, journals, in-class writing)
will be presented and discussed. Practicalities of incorporating reflection
into academic settings will also be examined, including previous experiences
in service-learning courses and broader implications for reflective
practices in international education.
The Border Studies Program, a one-semester off-campus study program managed by Earlham College, is based in the two cities of Ciudad Juárez, Chihuahua, and El Paso, Texas, on the Mexico-United States border. The program affords students the opportunity to explore the many ways in which nations and cultures, religions, customs and languages interact to create "border culture." The program is structured to facilitate a total learning experience: students live with host-families, take academic classes in a traditional setting, and they undertake field studies.
Because it is concerned with understanding the processes referred to in shorthand as "globalization," the Border Studies Program takes as its point of departure the pedagogical desire to link knowledge, social responsibility, and collective action toward greater social justice. The program attempts to transform the worldviews of students by getting them to think critically about where they stand in relation to the world around them. It also attempts to empower them so that they can move beyond the role that society dictates is most appropriate for us: that of passive consumer.
This paper is devoted solely to the field studies component of the Border Studies Program. It explores the critical pedagogical underpinnings of the field studies component and highlights selections of ethnographies written by undergraduates in order to demonstrate the pedagogical value of ethnography.
Collaborative Teaching Over the Web: The Vietnam Experience Online
The Internet expands dramatically the opportunities for collaboration and learning. This presentation describes the creation of a multi-campus, cross disciplinary, and collaborative teaching effort for an Internet-based course on the Vietnam Experience. This course was taught during the Fall semester 1999 at three member schools in the Associated Colleges of the South. The faculty included: Dr. Thomas Lairson (Professor of Political Science at Rollins College), Dr. Ernie Bolt (Professor of History at the University of Richmond), and Dr. Bryan Alexander (Assistant Professor of English at Centenary College). Planning for the course included several face-to-face meetings facilitated by the ACS and funded by a grant from the Mellon Foundation.
The presentation describes the development of the course, methods for teaching, use of the Internet for collaboration among faculty and students, and special features of the course. One highlight is the development of a simulation of the 1965 decisions to escalate the war in Vietnam. Students were broken into cross-campus teams and assigned to play the role of one of the important decision makers in the United States, Vietnam, China, or the Soviet Union. Students were asked to collaborate using e-mail to develop a policy position. The simulation began with the U.S. decisions followed by the responses developed by each team. A web site communicated the decisions to each team and every day for a week each team was required to communicate their actions, typically in response to the actions of other teams. The presentation describes construction of the simulation, the pedagogical assumptions behind it, and the results.
The Vietnam collaborative course raises many questions. What are our conclusions about this experiment? How did the students respond to the non-traditional learning environment? What are the difficulties in replicating such an effort? How can we assess the benefits and drawbacks? Will we teach it again?
Technology, Global Competence and Generation Y: The Meta-Issues
How can we use the tools that 21st century technology offers towards more efficient and effective internationalization? Apart from multimedia language labs, what does technology really have to offer to this enterprise? Do satellite cell phones, the world wide web and distance education make our current methods, such as study abroad, obsolete or irrelevant? How can professors and education abroad professionals collaborate to make use of the connectedness of the current student generation to aid them in forming accurate perceptions of peoples and issues around the globe? And, lastly, what special significance, if any, do the meta-issues of technology have for international liberal arts education?
This discussion will focus on defining the issues inherent in considering the title theme in the liberal arts context; in hopes of engendering discussion about what constitutes/should constitute "best practices" in the use of technology tools to advance international education.
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