Learning from student voices. Student perspectives on international learning at Brookes

Juliet Henderson and Jane Spiro (WIE)

In this workshop we will use Brookes’ student voice data about internationalisation , definitions of internationalisation and reflection on own practice to generate constructive discussion about why internationalisation matters and how, if at all, we can internationalise our own curricula.

As graduates emerging into a globally interdependent world, OBU students need to possess content knowledge about the world grounded in different cultural perspectives. They also need to appreciate how their own culture affects their values and beliefs and what this means in terms of developing intercultural communication skills. Student voice data collected tells different stories about levels of likely graduate intercultural competence that provide a starting point from which to consider our own practice.

The Student Voice Research Project was designed to ask the following questions:

  • What can Brookes students tell us about internationalisation at Brookes?
  • How do they define internationalisation at Brookes?
  • What are their experiences of internationalisation of the curriculum in seminars and lectures?
  • Is it curricular or extra-curricular activities that afford students the richest opportunities to reflect upon the new conversations opening between social and political spaces at local and global levels?
  • What do they feel should be the core values and competences that Brookes’ graduates emerge with on completion of their studies?

Since June 2007, using semi-structured, small group interviews with 8-12 broad focus questions probing the issues above, we have collected audio data from 46 students in the following disciplines: Planning, Architecture, History, Communication, Education, Sports and Coaching, International Relations. The transcriptions of this student voice data have been interpreted and coded using two approaches. One of us used a ‘bottom up’, grounded theory approach, taking the data as the starting point and letting the theory emerge from the analysis. The other took a theorised approach, starting with international graduate competences in the literature and coding alongside these. We then blended the two approaches to form an integrated response.

By linking theory to our teaching practice and student voice data, this workshop offers participants the opportunity to begin to reconceptualise their own pedagogical approaches in relation to the issue of internationalisation.