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Work Integrated Learning from the Perspective of Internationalization
University West, Department of Social and Behavioural Studies, Division for Educational Science and Languages. (Barn- och ungdomsvetenskap, LINA)
University West, Department of Social and Behavioural Studies, Division of Social Pedagogy and Sociology. (Barn- och ungdomsvetenskap)ORCID iD: 0000-0002-4538-6555
University West, Department of Social and Behavioural Studies, Division for Educational Science and Languages. (Barn- och ungdomsvetenskapliga forskningsmiljön)ORCID iD: 0000-0002-0127-0999
2012 (English)In: The European Conference on Educational Research 2012: The Need for Educational Research to Champion Freedom, Education and Development for All, 2012Conference paper, Oral presentation with published abstract (Refereed)
Abstract [en]

The focus of this presentation is on work integrated learning in higher education that takes place in a cultural context different to that which the student is accustomed to. In higher education internationalization is often stated as a central vision both in relation to education and research. This is commonly expressed in policy documents in statements such as working for an open and border crossing university and having a distinct international perspective in all forms of higher education. The research project “Work integrated learning from the perspective of internationalization” is designed to highlight some of the conditions that surround such visions by examining learning in international settings from students' experiences of practice-related activities abroad. This involves activities that are directly work-oriented or field work carried out within the framework of a university course and / or a bachelor thesis. In the project we are thereby examining students' situated learning and thus highlight the contextual practice community they can access in an international environment. This includes both specific and more general aspects of learning in which different aspects are highlighted. Specific training related to special education programs focus on the development of professional identity while generally learning affects students from all programs in which learning outcomes such as wider perspectives and critical thinking are included.Our research focus is of exploratory nature where the approach is to examine students’ experiences of practice-related learning from the perspective of internationalization. This is being researched from three relating aspects. • Emotional and identity transformational aspects of learning. What does it mean to be in a relatively unknown social environment and there be faced with work-related tasks? What kind of interpretations and understandings of the situations occur? • Communicative aspects of students' practice-oriented learning – the importance of language and cultural codes. • Comparative aspects of students’ learning – the importance of comparisons for perspective taking and development of knowledge.Previous researched has been done on students’ practice-related learning in the field of work integrated learning. The forms of practice-oriented learning are of various kinds. It may be learning through the use of practical training related to establishing a profession-specific knowledge and identity. Other forms are the use of direct working connections or cultural settings outside the university through project work in course moments and / or for a bachelor thesis. What is common to these various forms is an endeavor of higher education to make the arena and cultural settings outside the university to a direct part in students’ learning. Given that the internationalization of higher education has increased, it is important also to examine students’ learning in various international contexts. The relevance of this can be found in theories of learning particularly those focusing on the contextual meaning from the idea that learning originates from the experience of interaction with the environment. Social aspects such as the relational and dialogic qualities are central already in the work of Vygotsky (1962) but according to Cooper (2008), it is only recently that this has been researched from an international perspective.

Method

The study is based on qualitative interviews with post graduate students who have completed internship or field work abroad. We have conducted in depth interviews using a guide with thematic questions focusing on emotional, communicative and comparative aspects of work integrated learning abroad. When processing the raw information the interviews were digitally-recorded and transcribed verbatim. The sample includes 12 in depth interviews, three students from each four different departments (social work, teacher, health promoter, cultural studies and engineering) at a smaller Swedish university. Another category of material is the interviewed student’s written reports from their field work. A content-analysis is performed on all parts of the material according to the three mentioned aspects. The analysis is abductive, which means that it uses theoretical concepts in making sense of the material, but is also sensitive to the participants' own ways of conceptualizing their experiences and learning. Common as well as unique features in the students' stories will be presented and discussed and considered in regard to the students' personal, institutional and cultural contexts.

Expected Outcomes

Preliminary analysis suggest in line with previous studies that the interviewed students' experiences of practice-related learning in a different cultural context show linkage with the phenomenon of sojourning which means taking up temporary residence in another culture. The previous, more linear psychological explanatory model of "adapting" the self in a new country to study or work does not suffice to explain the students' various experiences and learning in their field of study/professional development or on a more general. Our primary analysis of the material rather indicate that these processes are best understood as a complex web of shifting links between mastery of communication, social interaction and personal development. It is the management of this web which gives the result of cross-cultural adaptation and renegotiation of the "identity". As previous studies in the field have shown, personal, educational and psychological factors are as important as organizational and social-cultural factors for influencing the learning outcome (Qing et al 2010). And when it comes to identity formation practice related learning abroad also shows deeply personal transformative possibilities (Ryanand & Viete 2009).

References

Cooper, G. (2008) "Assessing International Learning Experiences: A Multi-Institutional Collaboration". In: Phi Kappa Phi Forum/ Vol. 88 Qing, G., Schweisfurthb, M. & Daya, C. (2010) "Learning and growing in a 'Foreign' Context: Intercultural Experiences of International Students" In: A Journal of Comparative & International Education. Vol.40, No. 1. Ryan, J. & Viete, R. (2009) “Respectful interactions: learning with international students in the English-speaking academy”. In: Teaching in Higher Education, Vol. 14, No. 3 Vygotsky, L. (1962) Thought and language. Cambridge: MA: M IT press

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2012.
Keywords [en]
work integrated learning, work place learning, foreign countries, transformative learning
National Category
Social Sciences
Research subject
SOCIAL SCIENCE, Pedagogics; Work Integrated Learning
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:hv:diva-4967OAI: oai:DiVA.org:hv-4967DiVA, id: diva2:581189
Conference
ECER, Cadiz Sep 2012
Available from: 2012-12-28 Created: 2012-12-28 Last updated: 2015-03-17Bibliographically approved

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Bolin, AnetteKorp, Helena

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