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Younger undergraduates’ ability to navigate intercultural experiences in the globalised university

Younger undergraduates’ ability to navigate intercultural experiences in the globalised university

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Younger undergraduates’ ability to navigate intercultural experiences in the globalised university

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  1. Younger undergraduates’ ability to navigate intercultural experiences in the globalised university Neil Harrison Bristol Centre for Research in Lifelong Learning and Education (BRILLE) University of the West of England 16th December 2010

  2. Research context • Internationalisation and student mobility • Seven undergraduate students enter UK for every one that leaves • Proportion of international students in UK is 11% - and up to 35% in some universities • Many UK ‘home’ students entering a new world of cultural diversity

  3. ‘Internationalisation at Home’ • Wächter (2003); Teekens (2007) • Internationalisation offers new opportunities to students in their own country – not just for those who travel – e.g. • Curriculum innovation • Enhanced use of ICT • Drawing on the experiences of incoming students • Develop concepts of global citizenship

  4. However… the reality • Studies from UK, US, Australia, New Zealand, Spain, South Africa & Germany • Low levels of social and academic interaction between home and international students • Intercultural interactions cause anxiety and sense of threat • ‘Passive xenophobia’ vs. ‘informed cosmopolitanism’ (Peacock & Harrison 2009)

  5. Research questions • Why do different students react more or less positively to cultural diversity at university? • Do elements of their early life experiences have an impact? • Do generally-accepted personality traits have an impact?

  6. Methodology • Quantitative study based around online questionnaire • Three teaching-intensive universities • E-mail sent to young second year UK full-time undergraduates - prize draw • BME students removed • 718 responses (6% response rate)

  7. Key concepts • Ethnocentrism: the tendency to have a strong and inflexible connection to your own culture and/or a belief in its superiority • Cultural intelligence: the skills, attitudes and behaviours that enable a person to interact successfully across cultural boundaries • Measured via revised (shortened and contextualised) inventories

  8. Independent variables • Demographics: gender & social class • ‘Big Five’ personality traits (McCrae 2009): extraversion, neuroticism, openness, agreeableness & conscientiousness • History of travel: for leisure & to live • Early life experiences: multicultural upbringing, foreign language ability & international orientation

  9. Results (1) • Good internal reliability for all inventories (all Cronbach α >= 0.73) • Strong and significant negative correlation between ethnocentrism and cultural intelligence (r = -0.506, p < 0.001) • Correlations between independent variables in line with expectations and wider literature

  10. Results (2) • Two linear regression models (5% sig. level) • Predictors for cultural intelligence: openness, agreeableness, multicultural upbringing, language ability & international orientation • Same for ethnocentrism, with addition of gender: men are more ethnocentric • Fair explanatory power (R2 = 0.21 for cultural intelligence and R2 = 0.18 for ethnocentrism)

  11. Conceptual model Gender • Openness • Agreeableness Ethnocentrism Intercultural interaction • Multicultural upbringing • Language ability • International orientation Cultural intelligence

  12. Discussion of findings • Some personality traits predictors – perhaps surprisingly, extraversion and neuroticism not • Students with a multicultural upbringing and language abilities have in-built advantage • Nature and role of ‘international orientation’ • Male tendency to ethnocentrism consistent with previous studies • Travel abroad and social class not predictors

  13. Conclusions • Students don’t all arrive at university ‘the same’ in terms of navigating diversity • Findings begin to explain different behaviours described by previous qualitative studies • Prevailing ‘sink-or-swim’ approach doesn’t establish a baseline of shared understanding • Need for active management to realise benefits from ‘internationalisation at home’

  14. References • McCrae, R. (2009). The Five-Factor Model of personality: consensus and controversy. In P. Corr & G. Matthews (Eds.), The Cambridge Handbook of Personality Psychology. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. • Peacock, N. & Harrison, N. (2009). “It’s so much easier to go with what’s easy”: ‘mindfulness’ and the discourse between home and international students in the UK. Journal of Studies in International Education,13, 487-508. • Teekens, H. (Ed.). (2007). Internationalisation at home: ideas and ideals: EAIE occasional paper 20. Amsterdam: EAIE. • Wächter, B. (2003). An introduction: internationalisation at home in context. Journal of Studies in International Education,7, 5-11.

  15. Younger undergraduates’ ability to navigate intercultural experiences in the globalised university Neil Harrison Bristol Centre for Research in Lifelong Learning and Education (BRILLE) University of the West of England 16th December 2010