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Springerplus. 2014 May 12;3:242. doi: 10.1186/2193-1801-3-242. eCollection 2014.

Fostering cultural inclusiveness and learning in culturally mixed business classes.

Author information

  • 1Faculty of Health, University of Canberra, Canberra, ACT 2601 Australia.
  • 2Faculty of Business, Government and Law, University of Canberra, Canberra, ACT 2601 Australia.
  • 3Department of International Business and Asian Studies, Griffith University, Nathan Campus, Brisbane, QLD 4111 Australia.

Abstract

BACKGROUND:

Business educators have advocated that in order to build faculty's intercultural capability, it is vital to provide them with professional development in using intercultural training resources and with "community of practice" support in adapting such resources for enhancing their students' intercultural learning. This approach has been adopted in an Australian action research project titled "Internationalisation at Home" (IaH), which involved providing faculty with professional development adapted from an established intercultural training resource - the EXCELL (Excellence in Cultural Experiential Learning and Leadership) Program.

CASE DESCRIPTION:

In this paper, we present two case studies of the implementation of the IaH Project in business schools at the University of Canberra and at Griffith University. Lessons learned from the first study were incorporated in the design and evaluation of the second one. Faculty leaders will describe how they engage and support colleagues in adapting components of EXCELL to foster cultural inclusiveness and facilitate students' intercultural competence development. As part of project evaluation, we hypothesised that students who participated in IaH courses would report greater levels of (1) cultural inclusiveness in their educational environment, and (2) cultural learning development, compared with students who were not enrolled in IaH courses. Research participants in the Canberra case study comprised an intervention group of 140 business undergraduates enrolled in an IaH course, and a control group of 59 non-IaH undergraduates. At Griffith, participants were 211 first year management students in the intervention group and 84 students enrolled in a non-IaH first year course.

DISCUSSION AND EVALUATION:

In each case study, an end-of-semester survey showed that students who had completed courses with the IaH project intervention reported significantly greater levels of perceived cultural inclusiveness in multicultural classes, and of cultural learning development, than students in the control group. Faculty's reflections on project processes and outcomes further suggest that implementing strategic, structured active learning interventions such as in the IaH Project, could bring about more productive social interactions in multicultural classes and benefit domestic and especially international students. We will discuss implications of the findings for students' intercultural learning, faculty's needs for continual professional development, and the role of institutional support in intercultural competence development.

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