07 SES 11 B, Students' Diversity
Globalisation, has resulted in “ the global flow of education and research as noted by Fabricus, Mortensen and Haberladf ( 2017, p. 578). Culturally and linguistically diverse domestic and international students are a part of this global education setting now, however, their concerns and their learning often gets less attention. While their heterogeneity is welcomed as adding to the value of diversity in universities, their overall performance and literacy is perceived as a deficit. This, then, results in CALD student often being marginalised within the learning environment; the dilemma of belonging and of being resilient in the face of a deficit discourse around their academic practice is often a difficult and challenging experience for most CALD students, whether domestic or international. To examine these dilemmas, this study examines the research question: What challenges do CALD students face in their learning and how do fluid modes of subjectivities assist them in engaging effectively with academic practice?
CALD students, although are considered to be economic assets for a university, are often perceived with less than enthusiasm when it comes to academic achievement. This is partly due to the students being perceived as possessing language deficiency leading to deep uncertainties as far as academic achievement is concerned. Nevertheless, student numbers increase each year, therefore, it is necessary to examine what constitutes productive education. In acknowledging the importance of productive learning, this study draws on Foucault’s theories of subject and power and Deleuze and Guattari’s theory of rhizomatic identity and associated notions of being and becoming.
Foucault’s sees knowledge as a set of relevant discourses that are “practices that systematically form the objects of which they speak”, instead of perceiving it as a unitary body of reason that aims to uncover the truth (1972, p. 49). Subsequently, educational discourses are constituted as a tapestry of knowledge and power within which individuals are situated as the objects of discourse and as the spokespeople of discourse. As a form of governmentality, knowledge and the power that is a result of it, governs individuals externally as well as through their own understanding of power. Individuals in the present day form of governmentality are subject to someone else by control and also tied to their own identity. An application of Foucault’s theory illustrates how these students are defined by institutional discourses as deficit and, as requiring an upgrade. However, if these students are to be considered as valuable members, the teacher as reflective practitioner needs to go beyond the institutional designation of their academic practice as a deficit and to perceive their difference as rhizomatic. Like a rhizome, academic practice comprises diversity. The six characteristics of the rhizome are appropriate to understand the diversity and difference exemplified by the CALD Masters students. The principles are of connection and heterogeneity; of multiplicity; of assigning rupture and the principles of cartography and decalcomania. Multiplicity as rhizomatic in this study enabled to comprehend diversity and difference in academic practice as increasing in dimensions as it enlarged and expanded its connections. The rhizome as cartography and decalcomania experiments and constructs (Deleuze and Guattari, 1987) and when applied to diversity in academic practice illustrates how new possibilities open through a new understanding of difference as positive. Further, the principle of rupture demonstrates how western knowledge system could be challenged by the non- dominant or alternate forms of learning and knowledge systems. In this, the academic in a western context and the students experiment, explore and acknowledge difference as positive and subjectivity as fluid.
This study applies qualitative interpretive methodology to examine the themes that emerged from data collected over four years. The students enrolled in a Master of Education core unit, in a university in Australia, were all linguistically and culturally diverse with previous degrees and work- experiences and often identified as global citizens due to having travelled and worked extensively, often worldwide. They were enrolled in the Masters of Education program in an Australian university. Data was collected from semester 2, 2015 –2018 and involved pre- and post-study survey (30) and focus group or individual interviews with 30 participants. Data in the form of researcher observations (n x 15) have also been recorded. The data was coded and categorized based on central themes that arose from the theoretical framework. The themes of inclusion/exclusion and the theme of rhizomatic self are explored. I also employed the methodology of self- study of teacher education practice ( S- STEP S-STEP; Hamilton & Pinnegar, 2014), to the analysis of data. I adopted the S- STEP as it allowed to engage in a constant reflective and reflexive process to examine the pedagogic subjectivities that my students and I were experiencing. This study examines my practice and context to reflectively comprehend the lived experiences of my students and myself as an academic both from the theory of knowledge and power and a rhizomatic perspective. I followed Hamilton and Pinnegar’s (2014), Pinnegar and Hamilton (2015)to ensure a systematic process of self- study and reflection. The provocation that is the first step was the paradox of teaching CALD students in a western environment they were unfamiliar with and where institutional procedures catered to the western norms. The provocation provided the research question which pushed the boundaries of the ontological stance and assisted in re-questioning my ontological position regarding my practice. The third step, exploration led to examining my prior knowledge of teaching CALD students and analyzing my previous ideas about teaching. Refinement occurred when I re-examined my practice in light of my knowledge and experience and reselected from my repertoire what was worthy of being examined. Ethical stance was adopted through ethical clearance and trustworthiness and transparency of the study with the participants and academia. Further, student participants were also considered as critical friends with whom dialogues were conducted in class, through interviews and in informal sessions that enabled reflexive thinking.
Analysis of the themes of inclusion/exclusion illustrated how the students experienced a normative and inflexible academic system that expected them to assimilate and demonstrate excellence which was understood differently from how they had experienced it in prior learning. Data illustrated how their becoming the student that was desired by the institution was neither natural nor seamless and was constituted of homogenous academic operations. As they experienced the academic environment they found that being restricted to the margins would not enable them to learn effectively, and that they had to resist the normalisation through presenting their difference as positive. The second theme of rhizomatic self, illustrated how they could adopt a fluid subject position where they could deterritorialize in thought and action, and with the knowledge that although future reterritorialization could occur these could be interrupted more easily. For the academic the methodology of S- STEP assisted in an intimate examination of the academic practice. It exposed how knowledge and power operate to governmentalize, to normalize and that a reflexive process of examining practice over an extended period with constant adjustments to practice was required. The study though small, build on the more substantial studies in self- study and work on CALD student and highlights the need for constant shifts in practice, between thresholds between positionality from a molar to a molecular becoming. Importantly, this methodology and the theory illustrate the molecular openness of practice and significance of uncovering the finer aspects of academic practice and students’ approach to learning.
Davis, T.M. (2003). Atlas of student mobility. New York: Institute of International Education Deleuze, G., & Guattari, F. (1987). A thousand plateaus: Capitalism and schizophrenia. (B. Massumi, Trans.). Minneapolis: University of Minneapolis Press. Fabricius, A. H., Mortensen, J., Haberland, H. ( 2017). The lure of internationalization: Paradoxical discourse of transnational student mobility, linguistic diversity and cross-cultural exchange. Higher Education, 73(4), 577-595. DOI:10.1007/s10734-015-9978-3 Foucault, M. (1972) The archaeology of knowledge. London: Routledge. Hamilton, M. L. (2004). Professional knowledge, self-study and teacher education. In J. Loughran, M. L. Hamilton, V. LaBoskey & T. Russell (Eds.), International handbook of self-study of teaching and teacher education practices (pp. 375–419). Dordrecht: Kulwer Press. Hamilton, M. L., & Pinnegar, S. (2014). Intimate scholarship in research: An example from self-study of teaching and teacher education practices methodology. LEARNing Landscapes, 8(1), 153–171. Pinnegar, S. E., & Hamilton, M. L. (2015). Knowing, becoming, doing as teacher educators: Identity, intimate scholarship, inquiry. Bingley, UK: Emerald. Ryan, J. (2005). Improving teaching and learning practices for international students: Implications for curriculum, pedagogy and assessment. In In J. Carroll & J. Ryan (Eds.), Teaching international students: Improving learning for all (pp. 92- 100). London: Routledge.
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