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Developing intercultural understanding for study abroad: Students' and teachers' perspectives on pre-departure intercultural learning

Holmes, P.; Bavieri, L.; Ganassin, S.

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Authors

L. Bavieri

S. Ganassin



Abstract

This study reports on students’ and teachers’ perspectives on a programme designed to develop Erasmus students’ intercultural understanding prior to going abroad. We aimed to understand how students and their teachers perceived pre-departure materials in promoting their awareness of key concepts related to interculturality (e.g., essentialism, stereotyping, otherising) during an intercultural education course for mobile students. Twenty pre-departure Erasmus undergraduate students from an Italian university, four teachers and one observer participated in the study. Seven hours of audio/video recordings of classroom discussions and teachers’ retrospective narratives were analysed thematically. Although students initially subverted the goals of one of the tasks, they demonstrated foundations of intercultural thinking; followed by movement from self-interest to intercultural awareness of the other; and finally, developing intercultural awareness, supported through opportunities to express emotions/feelings and discussion and application of key concepts of interculturality. Teachers’/observer’s perspectives confirmed the quality and flexibility of the materials in developing students’ intercultural awareness. The findings suggest that pre-departure materials can help students to recognise variety and complexity in self and others in intercultural encounters. But students’ primary needs for practical information should first be satisfied; interactive spaces for expressing emotion and feelings are important for understanding self and others; and scaffolding activities help students to understand intercultural concepts.

Citation

Holmes, P., Bavieri, L., & Ganassin, S. (2015). Developing intercultural understanding for study abroad: Students' and teachers' perspectives on pre-departure intercultural learning. Intercultural Education, 26(1), 16-30. https://doi.org/10.1080/14675986.2015.993250

Journal Article Type Article
Online Publication Date Jan 29, 2015
Publication Date Jan 29, 2015
Deposit Date Jan 29, 2015
Publicly Available Date Jul 29, 2016
Journal Intercultural Education
Print ISSN 1467-5986
Electronic ISSN 1469-8439
Publisher Taylor and Francis Group
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 26
Issue 1
Pages 16-30
DOI https://doi.org/10.1080/14675986.2015.993250
Keywords Study abroad, Intercultural encounters, Experiential learning, Intercultural communications, Internationalisation, Essentialising.

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