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Designing inclusive learning opportunities in the international and culturally diverse 21st Century UK Higher Education Context

Author: Aoife McDermott

School: Cardiff Business School

Abstract:

UK Higher Education institutions are increasingly recruiting large numbers of international students at both undergraduate and postgraduate level. Increased ethnic and cultural diversity in the classroom environment is resulting in differences in students’ expectations of the academic experience. These different expectations place significant and challenging demands on UK HE institutions and the academic staff working within them (Burnapp et al., 2012). Chief among these is the provision of an inclusive learning environment that supports the proactive engagement of these students in their chosen field of study (Burnapp et al., 2012; Christie, 2011). As a result, the focus of this short report is on designing inclusive and accessible learning opportunities for an international and culturally diverse student group. This is considered in the context of a large, compulsory undergraduate module, taught annually to 220 Business Management students. The project addresses three core themes: (1) the challenges of learning through a second language; (2) the classroom implications of different learning approaches and; (3) appropriate curriculum content in the international classroom. The latter is a theme which has been significantly neglected in the literature to date. Consideration of these issues culminates in the development of a tentative personal checklist for creating a supportive and inclusive learning environment in the international classroom.