Presentation on theme: "Engaging a diverse student population in a student facing role"— Presentation transcript:
1 Engaging a diverse student population in a student facing role Nicola PeacockSusannah DoyleStudent ServicesJanuary 2012
2 Learning objectivesto have learned more about your own attitudes to the culturally differentto have an increased awareness of some of the issues faced by a diversity of students and their perspective on student lifeto have explored ways of communicating to improve engagementImproved confidence
3 We wish to focus on the practicalities of engagement. We DO NOT intend to explore:Moral, ethical or legal debates around why any adjustments are made for international or disabled students at allCultural theory and debates about conceptualising the ‘other’University recruitment policies – the cultural ‘mix’We would also ask you, if possible, to address each other and the issues with respect, but try to leave behind concerns about SELF POLICING – MAKING SURE THAT EVERTHING YOU SAY IS POLTICIALLY CORRECT.PC – think PLEASE COMMUNICATE! Rather than POLITICALLY CORRECT!Rather than starting with the other, this morning we are going to start with you, here and now.With an exercise in mindfulness, becoming aware of the assumptions and judgements that we all make about others.I ask you to try this out with me. I will guide you through the exercise. You might feel uncomfortableYou might want to giggle.To end it I will ring these bellsOK lets start -I am going to ask you to tune in to the internal dialogue in your headLook around the roomLet your eyes travel over all the people in the room, who do you know, who do you not know.Take a moment to look at the people you don’t knowHow are they dressed? Look at their haircut, their choice of bag, how they are sitting.Now allow yourself to notice what assumptions and value judgements you make about these people based on the information that you have. What kind of a person do you think they are? Think about job, family, age, hobbies. Do you like the look of them? Why? Why not?If you are uncomfortable doing this then focus on me or Susannah..DON’T SHARE ANY OF YOUR THOUGHTS FEELINGS ASSUMPTIONS
4 Who are we talking about? MeYou….potentially anybody who we perceive as being culturally different to ourselves, to include disability, race, ethnicity, sexuality, gender, age, religionToday – ‘international students’ and students with a disabilityInternational students and students with a disability are often those we associate with diversity because they are often (but not always) visually different to the majority population, or they speak differently.Today we are going to focus on these 2 groups while recognising the limitations of definitions such as ‘international’ and ‘disabled’ – the false homogeneity these terms imply.Rather than starting with the other, this morning we are going to start with you, here and now.With an exercise in mindfulness, becoming aware of the assumptions and judgements that we all make about others.I ask you to try this out with me. I will guide you through the exercise. You might feel uncomfortableYou might want to giggle.To end it I will ring these bellsOK lets start -I am going to ask you to tune in to the internal dialogue in your headLook around the roomLet your eyes travel over all the people in the room, who do you know, who do you not know.Take a moment to look at the people you don’t knowHow are they dressed? Look at their haircut, their choice of bag, how they are sitting.Now allow yourself to notice what assumptions and value judgements you make about these people based on the information that you have. What kind of a person do you think they are? Think about job, family, age, hobbies. Do you like the look of them? Why? Why not?If you are uncomfortable doing this then focus on me or Susannah..DON’T SHARE ANY OF YOUR THOUGHTS FEELINGS ASSUMPTIONS
5 Mindfulness or Mindfullness? Is this familiar at all? What would your cartoon be thinking?Just notice how quickly and easily we make assumptions, without any facts. Notice too how quick we are to judge a book by its cover.Now – please just go around the room and say your name, what job you do and something that you are interested in or passionate about.Have you learnt something now that has changed your original assumptions or altered your judgement?Just turn to your neighbour and share any thoughts that you may have about doing that exercise.
6 How did it feel to really observe others? In pairsHow did it feel to really observe others?How easy was it to identify your thoughts or judgements about others?Can you think of a situation in which you made a judgement or assumption about someone that was not helpful or turned out to be completely untrue?So what is the relevance of this to engaging with diversity???
7 Making assumptionsMaking assumptions,,‘Categorizing is a fundamental and natural human activity. It is the way we come to know the world. Any attempt to eliminate bias by attempting to eliminate the perception of differences is doomed to failure’ Langer (1989)We are all biased, we all make assumptions and judgements about others based on our own experience, we have a tendency to want to put people in boxes…. And this is in part culturally guided – our upbringing brings with it assumptions, values that we carry with us (or choose to reject)And Assumptions form the basis of prejudice and stereotyping. If we react to the thoughts that our running through our head, our judgments, our prejudices then we may act in a negative or unhelpful manner, we may even discriminateSo given that we can’t eliminate biasWhat can we do?
8 Mindful communication Taking a moment to notice the thoughts that are going through your mindAsking yourself, where is this thought coming from? Is this fact or fantasy? On what information am I basing my judgement?Creating the space to consider other perspectives, being able to empathiseWith conscious awareness, realising you have a choice to act in new ways (not react in old ways, automatically, unconsciously)Being curious about yourself and othersBecome aware of it! (bias)Ideally we want to be mindful about how and what we communicate..Helpful in all situations but has particular resonance when we are communicating across culture, with people culturally different to ourselvesIt is very easy when we don’t have time and when our work is based on routine tasks to become a victim of automatic culture bound behavioursEverything we do is culturally guided not culturally bound – we have choices, our cultural identity is dynamic, changing
9 Barriers to communication Little Britain: How do you react to that? Funny? Excrutiating? Irritating.What are the truths behind the comedy?Not listening – not hearingTalking more loudly to get the message acrossMaking assumptions about differenceOn a serious note, do any of you experience any fear about not being able to understand someone for whom English is not a first language, or has a strong accent, or a speech impediment? Do you find yourself talking differently, louder, slower or using hand gestures more?Fear is a big barrier to communication. The sound of panic in our ears drowns out the other persons voice, prevents us from seeing their body language, trying to make sense of what they are saying from the clues we are given.Pc LANGUAGE….
10 Research with UK and international students exploring barriers to integration The risks that UK students perceived in communicating with culturally different (international students) were;The risk of an unsatisfying interaction (language barriers, conversation more time consuming, more mentally challenging, more prone to misunderstanding)The risk of causing offence or political incorrectness – being seen as ‘stupid’ or ‘racist’ by peersThe risk to academic performance (differences in work orientation and language barriers impacting group work)Peacock and Harrison (2009)EXAMPLE: I don’t have much contact with students with a disability. A severely disabled student with a speech impediment, came into the Student Services Centre the other day and I noticed that I was afraid of not being able to understand him, of being embarrassed about this, I also didn’t know whether to address my communication to him or his careworker. I sensed rising panic. I noticed that I felt relief when one of our Support Workers came to talk to him.I was distracted by difference, the Support Worker spoke to the person, all I saw was the disability.Often if we are presented with difference we concentrate on trying hard to listen accurately, which impedes our ability to hear the message.
11 Who are you culturally speaking? Student ServicesWho are you culturally speaking?Discuss these three questions with a partnerWhat does this human being have in common with me as another human being?How is this person different to or the same as me in terms of how I perceive their (and my) cultural upbringing?How is this individuals person unique? How am I unique?3 levelsDiscuss the 3 questions with a partner.What answers did you come up with?As example – I am somebody who was born and will die one day, I love, hate, lose, desire things, wonder about the meaning of life!I am white, british, middle class, educatedI am not married, don’t have children, I love dancing and the colour orange, primroses, the unpopped bits of popcorn, birch trees etc etc
12 "Everything that irritates us about others can lead us to an understanding of ourselves." Jung (psychoanalyst)Which can also help you to understand more about cultural difference..For example – I find it really irritating when people are late.In my family being punctual was considered really important – and actually – is it ALWAYS the most important thing?On some level I am envious of people who have the confidence to be late (and know that others will wait for them) – so there is something here about me needing to please people.This was a real problem for me in Italy where people were often late, time was more fluid. I learnt something about different concepts of time and how to manage that.Think about a colleague or a student that you see regularly, or a person you live with, a partner or friend.Think about something that they do that really irritates you.What does this say about you?Do they do what you do (but don’t want to admit?)Are you envious of their ability to do that?Is it behaviour that was considered inappropriate in your upbringing in the family or in the wider culture?An obvious one is people Not saying please and thankyou.
13 -what judgements and assumptions do you make about others? Summary so farGet to know yourself!!-what judgements and assumptions do you make about others?-what might stop you from communicating mindfully?who are you culturally speaking?QUIZ TIME!!
14 1) How many students with Aspergers at UOB (numbers NOT %)? 2) How many students with a disclosed disability at UOB (numbers NOT %)?3) How many students identify themselves as Black British at the University of Bath?4) How many of us will suffer with a mental health issue in our lifetime in the UK?5) What percentage of people in the UK are registered as being born with a disability?6) How many (full time and part time) overseas (fee paying) international students are currently studying at the UOB?a) at PG level b) at UG level 7) What percentage of international (fee paying and EU) students are recorded as being of Chinese Nationality ?8) Numbers of students with general psychological wellbeing issues who accessed the Health and Wellbeing Team Counselling Service at UOB in 2010/119) Numbers of international students (EU and overseas) accessing counselling?10) What is the name of the online E+D training?Team namePub quizWrite down closest answerPrize!
15 Equality Act Equality Act 2010 The following characteristics are protected characteristics—age;disability;gender reassignment;marriage and civil partnership;pregnancy and maternity;race;religion or belief;sex;sexual orientation.Disability(1)A person (P) has a disability if—(a)P has a physical or mental impairment, and(b)the impairment has a substantial and long-term adverse effect on P's ability to carry out normal day-to-day activities.
16 Disability Trends Aspergers syndrome- increased numbers year on year Visually Impaired/blind students in lab based subjectsOf the overall total of disclosed disabilities dyslexia makes up 63%Better diagnosis in school/FE- what that may mean for HEI’sBetter longer term outlook for medical conditions (CF for example)- what that may mean for HEI’s
17 The Canary in the Coalmine (Carroll, 2004) Whatever affects our student population negatively is likely to affect students first and more intensely if:English is not a first languageThey are studying in an academic culture different to their own (rules are often implicit)They do not have established support networks close byThey feel like an outsider, they are in a minority, they look differentSocial and cultural norms are differentThey do not have access to familiar sources of comfort (food, films, places, pastimes)The pressure to fulfil parental expectations are highThey face bureaucratic (and often very stressful) demands related to their visa or fundingThey face illness, trauma or academic failure and have to negotiate the unfamiliarity of the NHS, University systems, engage with the policeThey need a guarantor enabling them to rent a house in the private sectorMiners used to take canaries down the coal mine to test for poisonous gases – they would be the first to die!And many of the above issues do relate directly if not exclusively to international students…..Ask PARTICIPANTS to take it in turn to read out student quotes on their tables…..
18 Summary so far…2) Get to know something about the individuals and the groups you are working with-be aware of the dangers of stereotyping-be open to experiencing things from a different perspective-facts and figures-important issues-don’t be afraid to ask questions
19 Have a look at the scenarios provided and consider the following questions (10 minutes): What assumptions am I making about this student that may be helpful or unhelpful?What do I know about people from this country? Who have this disability? Is this helpful or not helpful?How do I feel in this situation?What do my feelings say about me, who I am, what my values are?What might be the barriers to communication here?What might I do automatically without thinking?What alternative ways of communicating might there be?You don’t have to answer all the questions!!
20 To end..Each table has 2 sets of post-its. Spend 5 minutes in your group sharing any interesting observations that have come out of your discussions. Write on separate post its.Write down any ‘top tips’ for better communication. This could be about writing down a scenario or it could be about exploring the scenarios in pairs.* You might want to think about which questions you found it difficult to answer and why*
21 Top tips Listen and hear Take time Ask questions Don’t assume Speak clearly but don’t patronise (end each word)No slang! Or teach it!Speak to the person – not the disability, the carerDon’t necessarily speak more loudlyBe creative (drawing? Writing? Metaphor?)Admit failure, misunderstandingsCheck understanding (what are they going to do as a result of your interaction?)Consider different perspectivesEmpathise
22 Learning objectivesto have learned more about your own attitudes to the culturally differentto have an increased awareness of some of the issues faced by a diversity of students and their perspective on student lifeto have explored ways of communicating to improve engagementimproved confidenceThink about the learning objectivesWrite on a post –it 1 thing that you hadn’t thought about before, 1 thing that you might do differently as a result
23 References:Carroll, J. and Ryan, J. (2005) Teaching International Students – Improving learning for all, Routledge, OxonLanger, E. (1989) in Barker, V. (?) Mindful Communication in Cross-Cultural OrganizationsSourced on 11/1/12 atPeacock, N. and Harrison, N. (2009) Interactions in the International Classroom in Internationalisation and Student Voice (2010) Jones, E. (Ed)