07 SES 05.5 PS, General Poster Session - NW 07
General Poster Session
The study concentrates on aspects related to learning and teaching of migrant students in in the context of vocational education for adults in Finland. In order to get better understanding of studied phenomenon the perspectives of both, migrant students and staff members are taken into account. The study aims at searching answers to following questions: 1) What trainers and adult migrant students focus on when talking about learning and teaching? 2) How learning, teaching and integration are related to each other?
In this paper I concentrate on answering the first question.
Learning is a sociocultural process (Gay, 2010) and there is a constant dynamic between learning and culture (Teräs, 2007). Learning has also historical and local character, which means that in different historical times we needed to learn different things and that learning varies in different schools, places and across culture (Gutiérrez & Rogoff, 2003; Hedegaard & Chaiklin, 2005).
There is no something like static regularities concerning learning styles (Gutiérrez & Rogoff, 2003). In fact, learning, as well as other cognitive processes, is very complex and learning styles themselves “are constructs that have many different components, are dynamic and fluid, not fixed and static” (Gay, 2010, pp. 175). Culture is only one of many things that have an influence on our preferable way of learning or teaching. In many cases other aspects of identity are more in play in that (Gay, 2010).
In fact, culture is constantly changing and becoming something new (Erikson, 2010). Each individual participates in different practices and shares, therefore different set of experiences and the same different way of approaching learning (Gutiérrez & Rogoff, 2003; Teräs, 2007).
Similarly to culture, also language is not something that is mechanically passed from one generation to another, but it is continuously in the process of becoming something new (Lantolf & Thorne, 2006). Language plays a central role in learning and teaching (Gay, 2010). We define our experiences, thinking and knowing through language (Lantolf & Thorne, 2006). Teaching itself is a linguistic activity (Gay, 2010). Teachers teach, explain things, and give instructions, feedback by using language. Understanding of that what teacher says and what is written is also a central for students’ learning (Dooley, 2009). Learning in a new environment means in a way constant balancing between understanding, keeping a face and trying to fit in into the mainstream. Finding a balance between migrant students and teacher responsibility for resolving of student confusion related to not understanding is a necessary condition for learning being successful (Dooley, 2009.).
Learning in a new cultural and linguistic setting is a lot about negotiation of new ways of learning (Chavez & Longerbeam, 2016). In order to make this process of negotiation easier culturally responsive educators call for caring attitude of teachers towards students’ learning (Gay, 2010). The caring attitude is visible in concrete actions, for example in the form of rethinking and adjusting of teacher own practices (Chavez & Longerbeam, 2016; Gay, 2010).
The qualitative case study data consist of individual, thematic interviews with eleven adult migrant students, twelve trainers, and the rector of the Institute as well as of one focus group interview with six adult migrant students. All participants of this case study are from the same Adult Institute in Finland (aikuisopisto). The student participants are persons of different gender, age, coming from different countries and are in different stage and different field of their vocational studies. The trainers are also of different gender, age, give training in different vocational fields and have different amount of experiences in teaching migrant students. The interviews were conducted as long as saturation was reached and I was convinced that interviewing of more people would not bring new knowledge to the topic. The interviews were carried out mainly in Finnish language, however also other available linguistic resources were used in order to gain more in-depth understanding. I utilized data-driven qualitative content analysis in the process of analysis of interview data (Schreier, 2012; Tuomi & Sarajärvi, 2009). The analysis was conducted with the assistance of Atlas.ti (Friese, 2014). As concerns ontological and epistemological position I follow social constructivist assumption (Schwandt, 2000; Creswell, 2007). Ethical considerations are taken seriously in the whole research process. I used the gathered material according to permission received from participants of the study. I paid special attention to anonymity of participants during the whole research process. Interviewees are portrayed as a group and in general terms. The limitations of the study connected to cross-cultural nature of the study as well as to using of different languages in the research process are discussed and taken into account.
In their talks on learning and teaching participants of the study (staff of institute as well as migrant students themselves) focus all above on language and culture matters. Problems with understanding of taught and learnt matters are usually explained with help of lacks in language proficiency and existence of cultural differences. The aspect of personal differences easily remains unnoticed. Though, it is challenging to teach migrant students, more experienced teachers especially in vocational fields popular among migrants, developed ways of coping with challenges connected to learning in a new linguistic and cultural context and teaching of this group of students. Though, model learning, learning by doing, going “out of school desk” in teaching, using clear and visual material are seen as potential practices for approaching of migrant students, in fact they lead to more in depth learning of any individual. The study points out to many similarities existing between Finnish and migrant students as concerns their learning and living in Finland. That result suggests that, though it is good to be aware of migrant students different points of references, taking into account diffeences and responding to diversity should not be done in an obsesive way (see also Dervin, 2011; Piller, 2012). Differences are the easiest to be spotted, however the existing similiarities should be the entry point in approaching of any student labeled as different.
References Chavez, A. F., & Longerbeam, S. D. (2016). Teaching across cultural strengths : A guide to balancing integrated and individuated cultural frameworks in college teaching (First edition. ed.) Creswell, J.W. (2007). Qualitative inquiry and research design: Choosing among five approaches (2nd ed.). Thousand Oaks: SAGE Publications. Dervin, F. (2011). A plea for change in research on intercultural discourses: A ‘liquid’ approach to the study of the acculturation of chinese students. Journal of Multicultural Discourses, 6(1), 37-52. doi:10.1080/17447143.2010.532218 Dooley, K. (2009). Language and inclusion in mainstream classrooms. In J. Miller, A. Kostogriz & M. Gearon (Eds.), Culturally and linguistically diverse classrooms : New dilemmas for teachers (pp. 56-74). Bristol ; Buffalo, NY: Multilingual Matters. Erikson, F. (2010). Culture in society and in educational practices. In J. A. Banks, & C. A. M. Banks (Eds.), Multicultural education : Issues and perspectives (7th ed. ed., pp. 33-58). Hoboken N.J.: Wiley. Friese, S. (2014). Qualitative data analysis with ATLAS.ti (Second edition. ed.) SAGE. Gay, G. (2010). Culturally responsive teaching : Theory, research, and practice (2nd ed. ed.). New York: Teachers College. Gutiérrez, K. D., & Rogoff, B. (2003). Cultural ways of learning: Individual traits or repertoires of practice. Educational Researcher, 32(5, Theme Issue: Reconceptualizing Race and Ethnicity in Educational Research), 19-25. Hedegaard, M., & Chaiklin, S. (2005). Radical-local teaching and learning : A cultural-historical approach. Aarhus N ; Oakville CT: Aarhus University Press,. Lantolf, J. P., & Thorne, S. L. (2006). Sociocultural theory and the genesis of second language development. Oxford: Oxford University Press. Piller, I. (2012). Intercultural communication: An overview. In C. B. Paulston, C. B. Paulston, S. F. Kiesling & E. S. Rangel (Eds.), Blackwell handbooks in linguistics: The handbook of intercultural discourse and communication (pp. 1-18). Malden, Mass.: Wiley-Blackwell. Schreier, M. (2012). Qualitative content analysis in practice. Thousand Oaks (Calif.): Sage Publications. Schwandt, T. (2000). Three epistemological stances for qualitative Inquiry: interpretivism, hermeneutics, and social constructivism. In N. K. Denizin and Y. S. Lincolin (Eds.). Handbook of qualitative Research (2nd ed.) (pp. 189-214). Thousands Oaks: Sage Publications. Teräs, M. (2007). Intercultural learning and hybridity in the culture laboratory. [Helsinki]: University of Helsinki. Tuomi, J., & Sarajärvi, A. (2009). Laadullinen tutkimus ja sisällönanalyysi (5., uud. laitos. ed.). Helsinki: Tammi.
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