As UK Higher Education institutions continue to accept students from ethnically diverse backgrounds, scholars argue that this changes how as educators we should view the student body. A popular view among academics is that there is now a responsibility on academics and institutions to provide learning environments and experiences that are inclusive, validating and affirming. Todays blog post is about discussing these issues within the context of a recent paper that I have written.
For many the concept of diversity is complex and fraught with danger and potential difficulty. Interacting and engaging with individuals from different backgrounds, cultures, genders and faiths can be exhilarating if managed in a cohesive manner but also daunting. The paper which has now been published online discusses some of these obstacles and channels and introduces the concept of ‘cultural branching’. In the paper this is defined as helping ethnically diverse students to build bridges between their pre-existing knowledge and what they are expected to learn.
Investigating background cultures and heritage goes some way in helping academics to understand their student body and to also understand themselves and their own perspectives. This as you can imagine is a very interesting topic of research, talking to academics about their backgrounds and what has influenced them allows for the collection of a very rich and diverse dataset.
The paper attempts to explore some of these issues and to this end collected interviews from 22 academic tutors across three UK Higher Education Institutions in the North of England. The interviews focused on academic expectations, how they interact and how they felt their relationships with their students was changing. The findings suggest that current curriculum structures and pedagogical approaches favour the dominant non-ethnically diverse learner. Our research proposes that additional emphasis needs to be placed on developing a practical and functional approach which embeds cultural branching via technological platforms.
The paper is open access so it is free to read, please do have a look and leave any comments or feedback below:
Jabbar, Abdul and Mirza, Mohammed (2017) Managing diversity: Academics’ perspective on culture and teaching. Race, Ethnicity and Education. ISSN 1361-3324