Culturally and linguistically diverse (CALD) international and domestic students comprise a significant group within higher education in prominent universities worldwide. The number of such students attending western universities is significantly large at present. This raises issues of diversity and difference both in terms of academic participation and practice. While the diversity of CALD students is valued as providing a heterogeneous outlook to the higher education context, their academic practice is often perceived as deficient due to standards set by local institutions (Davies, 2003; Ryan, 2005). This study examines how CALD Masters students encounter academic practice and in what manner they become members of the learning community. The research question that guides this study is: How do CALD students negotiate academic practice and learn to belong to a community of practice?
Instead of comprehending how CALD students become productive members of a community, research often examines ways to upgrade their academic literacy practices. As research indicates, language ability takes precedence over the skills and abilities diverse students bring to learning (Ryan and Viete, 2009). If these students are to be considered valuable members of the higher education context, a productive learning community is required. In this study, community of practice (CoP) (Lave & Wenger, 1991; Wenger, 2000) and Bakhtin’s (1981) theories of dialogism and heteroglossia are drawn upon to illustrate how meaning and identity can occur only when productive communities are formed and when these encourage student voice. CoP theory emphasises the centrality of participation and practice that occur when mutual collaborations form to negotiate meanings, joint enterprise occurs through discussion and agreement and alignment happens through shared repertoire where resources are shared.
As scholars (Anthony et al (2009; Tillema, 2007; Wenger 1998; 2000; 2008, 2010; Wenger, Snyder & McDermott 2002) argue, CoP provides the basis for sharing and learning. A CoP illustrates how the situational aspect of learning is based on three aspects of a community- 1) Domain that requires commitment from its members; 2) Community that gets established through collaborative activities and 3) Practice that occurs through shared resources. There are also three modes of belonging and three dimensions of participation and practice. The three modes of belonging, engagement, imagination, and alignment and the three dimensions of participation, namely mutuality, joint enterprise and shared repertoire a productive learning community is established. When there is shared, collaborative learning and practice, it leads to mutual engagement and being able to imagine belonging to a community and importantly helps to align with others through “coordinating perspectives” (Wenger, 2000, p. 227-228). Joint enterprise is the common shared purpose and essential to a joint enterprise are goals that are negotiated; shared repertoire occurs through common set of procedures and, actions of a learning community.
Situated social learning systems operate through effective communication. Therefore, examining language of academic practice becomes central to comprehend how an effective learning community is established. Bakhtin’s theories (1981; 1984; 1986) of dialogism and heteroglossia illustrate how centripetal and centrifugal forces in language engage in a dialectic practice to enforce either monologic, authoritative institutional discourses or decentralized discourses where student voices are heard. The centralising and highly ideological institutional discourses demand a particular learning style and academic practice, while the centrifugal discourses that students bring attempt to decentralise these discourses through their own particular standpoint of diversity and difference. When centripetal and centrifugal forces collide in discourse it results in dialogic heteroglossia (Bakhtin, 1981; 1984; 1986) which illustrates diversity and difference in academic practices of these students (see also Kamberelis, 2001). The monologic discourse of the institution collides with the dialogic discourse of the CALD students, leading to tensions in the learning community of practice.
Anthony, J. A. J., Rosman, S. N., Eze, U. C., & Gan, G. G. G. (2009). Communities of practice the source of competitive advantage in organizations. Journal of Knowledge Management Practice, 10(1). Retrieved, 10 November, 2016 http://www.tlainc.com/articl181.htm Bakhtin, M. (1981). The dialogic imagination: Four essays. (C. Emerson & M. Holquist, Trans.). Austin: University of Texas Press. Bakhtin, m. M. (1984). Problems of Dostoevsky’s poetics. Translated by C. Emerson. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota. Bakhtin, M.M. (1986). Speech genres and other late essays. Austin: University of Texas Press Davis, T.M. (2003). Atlas of student mobility. New York: Institute of International Education Kamberelis, G. (2001). Producing the heteroglossic classroom ( Micro) cultures through hybrid discourse practice. Linguistics and Education, 12(1), 85- 125. DOI: 10.1016/S0898-5898(00)00044-9 Lave, J., & Wenger, E. (1991). Situated learning: Legitimate peripheral participation. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Mabry, L. ( 2009). Case study methods in education evaluation. In K. Ryan & J. B. Cousins (Eds.), The international handbook of educational evaluation (pp. 341- 356). CA: Sage. Ryan, J. (2005). Improving teaching and learning practices for international students: implications for curriculum, pedagogy and assessment. In J. Carroll & J. Ryan (Eds.), Teaching International Students: Improving Learning for All. New York: Routledge. Ryan, J., Viete, R. (2009). Respectful interaction: Learning with international students in the English-speaking academy. Teaching in Higher Education, 14(3). 303-314. DOI: 10.1080/13562510902898866 Tillema, H.H. (2007). Authenticity in Knowledge Productive Learning of Teams. In Munthe, E. & Zellermayer, M. (Eds.) Teachers Learning in Communities, international perspectives (pp.27-45). Sense Publishers: Rotterdam. Stake, R. E. (1995). The art of case study research. USA: Sage. Silverman, D. (2011). Qualitative Research: issues of theory, method and practice. 3rd ed. USA: Sage. Wenger, E. (1998). Communities of practice: Learning, meaning, and identity. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press. Wenger, E. (2000). Communities of practice and social learning systems. Organization, 7 (2), 225-246. Wenger, E., McDermott, R., & Snyder, W. M. (2002). Cultivating communities of practice. Boston: Harvard Business School Press. Wenger, E. (2008). Communities of practice: Learning, meaning, and identity. New York, USA: Cambridge University Press. Wenger, E. (2010). Communities of practice and social learning systems: The career of a concept. In C. Blackmore (Ed.), Social learning systems and communities of practice (pp. 179-198). London: The Open University and Springer-Verlag Limited.
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