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Learning together: reflections on of the evolution of a new study abroad programme BUTEX Symposium - Study Abroad: An Investment for the Future, 4 July.

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Presentation on theme: "Learning together: reflections on of the evolution of a new study abroad programme BUTEX Symposium - Study Abroad: An Investment for the Future, 4 July."— Presentation transcript:


2 Learning together: reflections on of the evolution of a new study abroad programme BUTEX Symposium - Study Abroad: An Investment for the Future, 4 July 2013. University of York Catherine Hyde – University of Worcester Helen Mongan-Rallis – University of Minnesota Duluth

3 Objective To examine factors that contribute to the development and ongoing maintenance of a study abroad programme so that it is mutually beneficial to all participants both from the host university and from the international partner university

4 The evolution of the University of Minnesota Duluth (UMD) Study in England Programme (SIE) at the University of Worcester (UW) Analysis of perspectives of participants Lessons learned during the first two years of the programme Your experiences – shared.. What can we learn from our collective experiences? Overview of session

5 Evolution of UMD SIE programme 33 rd year of SIE Programme The only UMD year-long programme with director & faculty Began as a self-contained island programme at the University of Birmingham. Moved to UW 2011-12. UMD seen as working in partnership with UW UW interested in greater integration

6 UNIVERSITY OF BIRMINGHAM 1980 Island programme. 1 year with director and faculty 2011 Move to University of Worcester – some integration 2013 ?

7 Year 1 at UW Framework of UB SIE programme, with director who had previously directed the UB programme 1 UMD director, 2 UMD lecturers each semester, 1 UK Programme Assistant UMD modules by UMD lecturers only to UMD students but students also take 2 UW modules per semester. 3 x 3-day field trips only for UMD students, connected to UMD modules 4 days a week (Fridays off for travel), 7 week travel break between semesters Accommodation in flats sharing with 5 UW students Invitations to UMD lecturers to participate in lunchtime lectures

8 Year 2 at UW Cultural mentoring (using Bennetts IDI) & required intercultural seminar Programme design continues to emphasise academic tourism 90 UW students take up UMD modules – study abroad at home UMD lecturers do guest lectures, research presentations, attend institute meetings, collaborate in delivery of courses No clear program goals or structure – like designing, building & fixing an airplane while it is flying Growing awareness of differences in the two system (UMD & UW) & efforts to understand & address these

9 UMD student voices Academic: module selection, assessments, amount & nature of work, teaching styles, expectations, self-direction UW lecturers treated us more as equals, Our classes felt more like conversations than being spoken to. Differences in systems: timetable, SOLE page, grading, assessment submission I realized that I had a mono-vision of education. Coming to UW opened my eyes to how different academics can be. Benefits: different perspectives, learn about UK, insights into US and self I think Ive become more like who I will be for the rest of my life, good or bad, but I like knowing who that is.

10 UW student voices Academic: Amount of work overwhelming, methods of assessment & criteria, use of technology, styles of teaching All the reading was a bit of a shock Differences in systems: textbooks, access to online resources The difference in accents wasnt that badweve seen so many American movies. It would be harder if the accents were from Texas or something.. Benefits: different perspectives, knowledge of other cultures I am more likely in future to take modules with other international students

11 UMD Admin Problems: ownership, not having clear business plan, assumption of similar system processes & resulting confusion, misunderstanding, timelines, financial strain on programme, staff turnover We had no involvement in the transition Positives: partnership & integration of UW & UMD, positive reputation of programme, support to students & staff Suggestions: clear guidelines on how things done, who does what, timelines, onsite orientation In the jobs that we do we have to be effective cultural negotiators. Any time we are exposed to a different culture and practices in that culture, it strengthens us.

12 Problems: not aware of programme, assumptions leading to confusion over differences in systems, timetable I was aware of it – heard of it but knew nothing about it Positives: different perspectives, broadens us, greater appreciation for different systems, variety Suggestions: Idiots guide on similarities & differences, expectations, policies, cultures, who does what, collaboration with UMD staff, have us assist in induction, use social media to communicate to students it brings a different experience to the table and that can never be a bad thing UW Support Staff

13 UMD Faculty Differences: teaching methods, writing styles, assessments, grading criteria attendance, pass/fail, communicating with students, timetable, technology, switching rooms, role of students Problems: differences in understanding of grading criteria, roles of lecturers & students, holding students accountable; incompatibility of technology between systems Benefits: different perspectives, UW student contributions to class, connection with colleagues on campus Fun to have different perspectives on US and the world Suggestions: handbook explaining different systems & expectations; student contract indicating understanding of requirements; have academic advisors prepare students for what to expect; better communication with students

14 UW Academic Staff The most dangerous place is when you think you speak the same language Differences: nature & depth of reading & analysis, grading criteria, self-direction of students, style of teaching, terminology Problems: UMD not engaged at first, didnt make use of drafts & feedback, UMD students keep to themselves & as group I would like the students to realise that the tutor is not the one in charge Benefits: aware of own cultural incompetence, makes me rethink things, challenge stereotypes, interdisciplinary discourse, reflection on teaching, it benefits UMD students to get out of USA Our view of America is filtered through TV so its good to have that debunked

15 What did we learn? An initial perception of similarities, combined with openness & friendliness resulted in our over-generalising the similarities It is vital to have partnership and programme stated goals to guide decisions & choices It is crucial to have everyone involved understand what it is they are doing There is a subtle balance between having stated goals & allowing for some flexibility -- allowing a healthy, dynamic evolution It is important to understand the significance of the student experience for UW students and to give each a mentor It is important for UMD students to have ongoing cultural mentoring and to know about the module choice before applying to the programme

16 Stumbling blocks… Misconceptions and cross-cultural miscommunication Terminology Relationships Internal barriers Working within two (or more) pedagogical cultures Student perspectives Lecturer perspectives Balancing continuity and changing needs/ demands

17 Recommendations Clear partnership and programme goals developed in collaboration Move from academic tourism model to cultural competence model Idiots guide for staff & handbook for students SIE to follow same academic calendar as UW Ensure module descriptions specify clearly the expectations for the module Have indicative list of modules available to UMD students when programme is first promoted explore ways to expand the partnership between the 2 universities beyond the SIE programme

18 Sharing your experiences.. Would you characterize your programme as: Island programme? Immersion programme? Educational tourism? Carefully structured, guided cultural mentoring programme? What have been your experiences? What lessons have you learned through the evolution of your programme?

19 Final thought…. Everything will be alright in the end. If it is not alright, it is not yet the end! (With apologies to The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel!)

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