22 SES 10 D, Teaching, Learning and Assessment in Higher Education
Parallel Paper Session
The focus of this presentation is on work integrated learning in higher education that takes place in a cultural context different to that which the student is accustomed to. In higher education internationalization is often stated as a central vision both in relation to education and research. This is commonly expressed in policy documents in statements such as working for an open and border crossing university and having a distinct international perspective in all forms of higher education. The research project “Work integrated learning from the perspective of internationalization” is designed to highlight some of the conditions that surround such visions by examining learning in international settings from students' experiences of practice-related activities abroad. This involves activities that are directly work-oriented or field work carried out within the framework of a university course and / or a bachelor thesis. In the project we are thereby examining students' situated learning and thus highlight the contextual practice community they can access in an international environment. This includes both specific and more general aspects of learning in which different aspects are highlighted. Specific training related to special education programs focus on the development of professional identity while generally learning affects students from all programs in which learning outcomes such as wider perspectives and critical thinking are included.
Our research focus is of exploratory nature where the approach is to examine students’ experiences of practice-related learning from the perspective of internationalization. This is being researched from three relating aspects.
• Emotional and identity transformational aspects of learning. What does it mean to be in a relatively unknown social environment and there be faced with work-related tasks? What kind of interpretations and understandings of the situations occur?
• Communicative aspects of students' practice-oriented learning – the importance of language and cultural codes.
• Comparative aspects of students’ learning – the importance of comparisons for perspective taking and development of knowledge.
Previous researched has been done on students’ practice-related learning in the field of work integrated learning. The forms of practice-oriented learning are of various kinds. It may be learning through the use of practical training related to establishing a profession-specific knowledge and identity. Other forms are the use of direct working connections or cultural settings outside the university through project work in course moments and / or for a bachelor thesis. What is common to these various forms is an endeavor of higher education to make the arena and cultural settings outside the university to a direct part in students’ learning. Given that the internationalization of higher education has increased, it is important also to examine students’ learning in various international contexts. The relevance of this can be found in theories of learning particularly those focusing on the contextual meaning from the idea that learning originates from the experience of interaction with the environment. Social aspects such as the relational and dialogic qualities are central already in the work of Vygotsky (1962) but according to Cooper (2008), it is only recently that this has been researched from an international perspective.
Cooper, G. (2008) "Assessing International Learning Experiences: A Multi-Institutional Collaboration". In: Phi Kappa Phi Forum/ Vol. 88 Qing, G., Schweisfurthb, M. & Daya, C. (2010) "Learning and growing in a 'Foreign' Context: Intercultural Experiences of International Students" In: A Journal of Comparative & International Education. Vol.40, No. 1. Ryan, J. & Viete, R. (2009) “Respectful interactions: learning with international students in the English-speaking academy”. In: Teaching in Higher Education, Vol. 14, No. 3 Vygotsky, L. (1962) Thought and language. Cambridge: MA: M IT press.
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