Addressing Cultural Diversity in the International Classroom: A Challenge or an Opportunity?

Abstract

Composition of classrooms in higher education is evolving as universities become more accessible to students from different social and cultural backgrounds. This change has led to an increase in campus diversity among faculty members as well as students. The diversity among students challenges instructors to examine their previously uniform, teaching practices. To address this issue, it is necessary to consider the diversity that instructors themselves bring to the international classroom in terms of gender, ethnicity, social class, religious beliefs and other individual differences. Glossing over such differences blinds instructors to the effects of increasing student diversity on the classroom environment. This presentation highlights three outcomes of an “international classroom” that integrates student and instructor diversity. First of all, by recognizing student diversity, instructors are better able to design culturally sensitive courses and apply the most suitable teaching methods to address a diverse student group, maximizing students’ potential. Secondly, identifying diversity stimulates clearer communication between instructor and students’ appreciation for the student’s individual uniqueness, thus creating a positive learning environment. Finally, the unrealistic and inequitable notion of a culturally “neutral” classroom is dispelled. Instructors’ individual identities influence the language we use, the specific issues or points we discuss in the classroom, the ideas and values we share and ultimately our interactions with our students. Resources: 1. Plank, K. M., & Rohdieck, S. V. (2007, June). The value of diversity. NEA Higher Education ADVOCATE, 24(6), 5-8 2. W. M. Timpson, S. S. Canetto, E. Borrayo, & R. Yang. (2003) Teaching Diversity: Challenges and Complexities,



Author Information
Rose de Vrieze-McBean, NHTV University of Applied Sciences, Breda, The Netherlands

Paper Information
Conference: ECE2014
Stream: Literacy

This paper is part of the ECE2014 Conference Proceedings (View)
Full Paper
View / Download the full paper in a new tab/window

Posted by amp21