David began his professional life as an English language teacher, working in Greece, Morocco, Japan and China. Since working at Leeds Beckett his main professional passion has become internationalisation, with a particular focus on the internationalisation of the curriculum/student experience. His work on cross-cultural capability and global perspectives in the curriculum is known to many internally and in the sector. He sees internationalisation as an important driver for many of the changes which are needed to ensure the student experience does all it can to prepare students for the new realities of our globalising world. He currently holds a lead role as Leeds Beckett takes its internationalisation agenda forward through embedding the graduate attribute of a Global Outlook throughout its provision.
I have been involved in academic staff development and in the internationalisation of learning and teaching for many years. Gaining my National Teaching Fellowship gave me an opportunity to link the two areas of interest at a time when UK HE, including my own institution was making some significant forays into the world of transnational education (TNE). There was much discussion at the time about ‘contextualisation’ of the curriculum, and link tutors were often tasked to do this in collaboration with colleagues in partner institutions overseas.
This begged several questions, not least being concerns that curriculum designed and developed for students in one national and cultural context could simply be ‘contextualised’ to meet the needs and aspirations of students and their societies elsewhere. However, if this process was to be successful, it seemed to me to depend upon the nature of the collaboration which might be achieved between academics with experience and expertise working with diverse students in diverse contexts.
This prompted me to seek to explore how those academics might conceptualise the key issues in assessment, learning and teaching within their own contexts, since this would surely underpin their inputs into the development, or contextualisation, process.
Wisely or not, I selected a research process (concept mapping) which required working directly with groups of academics in their own contexts. Combining this research with other academic travel (e.g. conference presentations) helped stretch the funding from my NTF, but even so, the resource requirements necessarily limited the number of locations and colleagues who might be included.
The experience of engaging with many colleagues in this way was rewarding in itself. In all cases, I found academics who were motivated to provide their students with the best learning experiences and outcomes they could. Their deliberations around the creation of their concept maps were conducted seriously, sometimes with passion, occasionally with contentions which had to be explored further. Many common themes emerged, but with sometimes different priorities, and often influenced by different local priorities, constraints, philosophies, and/or stakeholders.
These differences can be discerned across the tables which populate the resource, but I have deliberately avoided attributing any differences to a specific context. In some cases, the emerging perspectives may have been representative of a culture or nationality, but I have no reason to believe that to be the case. The value of the tables is not to present findings on differences – but to stimulate further dialogue and reciprocal learning, building from the perspectives of groups of faculty working in diverse contexts.
Engaging in this research process prompted me to reflect at considerable length on several aspects of internationalisation, and this in turn has informed my own journey as an academic. Although this project does not directly feature, I do not believe I could have written my most recent publication (Killick, 2018) without the benefits gained from professional dialogues with these participants and other academics in diverse international contexts. Just as for many others, the NTF award has brought great value to its direct recipient. I hope that this is in some small measure repaid through this resource and through my wider work on internationalisation and academic development.
To read David's paper Key Issues in Learning, Teaching and Assessment in an Internationalising Higher Education: A Resource for Academic Dialogue and Development please click here.