Promoting Effective Learning in a Multicultural Classroom
Dalglish, Carol L. (2002) Promoting Effective Learning in a Multicultural Classroom. In EDINEB, June, Mexico. (Unpublished)
Cultural diversity in society, the workplace and classrooms in Australia is a fact of life. The multi-cultural classroom provides an opportunity for students from different cultures to bring their enormous range of experiences, knowledge, perspectives and insights to the learning – if the process is enabled. This is not always easy to do.
This paper outlines part of a one year project which will draw on the literature, interviews with teaching staff and focus groups of ‘best practice’ teachers, to present some practical strategies for the effective teaching of business disciplines. The student perspective will be incorporated in the next stage of the project. A number of assumptions underpin the research and the development of this paper.
• Australian classes use Western teaching and learning strategies that focus on critical analysis, oral discussion, problem solving and the possibility of multiple solutions.
• The classes are made up of students from a wide number of cultures, including English speaking Australians.
• Many of the students have a language other than English as their mother tongue.
• Organisations around the world, and therefore students, work in increasingly culturally and linguistically diverse work places and many will operate internationally. The capacity to work with people who are different is important for all students to learn.
"You learn from foreigners that there is more than one path to a goal. Effective wealth creation demands that we use all the paths available to us" (Hampden-Turner & Trompenaaars, 1993:16, cited in Sinclair and Wilson 1999:27)
• Teaching practices that assist the learning of international students will in fact be of benefit to all students.
The paper identifies a number of issues related to effective teaching in multi cultural business classrooms at universities, it addresses the potential barriers to effective learning, the challenges to teachers and offers a range of strategies that have been demonstrated to improve teaching and learning in this context and outlines the processes for building on current knowledge to improve the quality of teaching in multicultural classrooms.
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