22 SES 03 A, Internationalisation in Higher Education
This paper describes research on internationalization of curriculum (IoC) as part of a three-year study on the internationalization of higher education in Kazakhstan funded by the Ministry of Education and Science of Kazakhstan. The purpose of this inquiry was to understand decisions made for curriculum reform and the rationales for those decisions in case studies of three Kazakhstani universities working to internationalize their curricula.
Since becoming a signatory to the Bologna Process in 2010, Kazakhstan’s higher education has begun to transform in conformity with Bologna Process mandates. This Bologna context naturally impacts teaching and learning and informs policies and strategies for IoC. Although the Kazakhstani higher education system is centralized in the Ministry of Education and Science (Heyneman, 2010), recent educational policy calls for increased higher education institution (HEI) autonomy to develop curriculum (Nazarbayev, 2012). This policy has led to an increase in curriculum development within HEIs by programs and individual faculty. A related contextual factor is HEI faculty that have studied abroad or participated in faculty exchange programs as part of a range of national and international scholarships, an explicit higher education internationalization strategy (L.N. Gumilyov ENU, n.d.). National and institutional curriculum reform policies and decisions play out in a national higher education sector context in which Kazakhstani universities will experience greater autonomy, but also “have to compete with each other for students” in policy strategy to improve “poor quality” institutions (Aitzhanova, et al., 2014, pp. 81-82). These contextual features indicate not only that curriculum transformation in Kazakhstan is increasingly important, but that drivers for this transformation are simultaneously institutional, national, and international.
The operational definition of internationalization of curriculum used in this inquiry is described by Leask and Bridge (2013) as “the incorporation of an international and intercultural dimension into the content of the curriculum” extending to “all aspects of the learning/teaching situation and the student experience” (p. 81). The value of this broad definition to our research is twofold: first, it combines the conventional understanding of curriculum as planned, sequenced content with those teaching and learning activities often understood as pedagogy; and secondly, it spans the conventional “formal” curriculum of planned content, “informal” extracurricular activities, and “hidden” curricular issues such as whose knowledge is valued and traditions of teaching and assessment (pp. 81-82). Thus this definition facilitates analysis of a range of IoC decisions regarding: teaching and managing multicultural, multinational programs and courses; internationalizing syllabi; language of instruction; home/international student interaction; extracurricular activities; student support; and negotiating different traditions and expectations of teaching and learning.
The theoretical framework underpinning this research draws directly from Leask and Bridge’s (2013) “conceptual framework of internationalisation of the curriculum in higher education” that facilitates curriculum planning and analysis. The framework places knowledge within and across specific academic disciplines at the center of IoC decisions. Rationales for those decisions can be understood as imperatives emerging within interlinked “layers of context” (global, regional, national, local, and institutional) (p. 85). Common rationales include such things as preparing students for international careers or professional qualifications, preparing students for mobility programs, infusing courses with international or comparative content, developing linguistic or cross-cultural capacities, and accommodating foreign students (Luxon & Peelo, 2009, pp. 54-55). By framing curriculum decisions as choices made within specific discipline or multidisciplinary communities, the framework facilitates analysis of decisions for course curriculum content, assessment strategies and teaching and learning activities.
Employing the definition of IoC and the theoretical framework described above, this research sought to understand the decisions made for curriculum and the rationales for those decisions in three case studies of Kazakhstani universities internationalizing their curricula.
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