Tag Archives: diversity

International student integration: the students’ view (2014)

Krassimira Teneva

International students expect and value the opportunity to make friends with other students, but are rarely satisfied with their integration with UK peers.

Sheffield Hallam University, like many other universities in the UK, has put in considerable investment in developing and promoting extracurricular activities to encourage UK/international student integration. But while we notice steady improvement in the student satisfaction with their experience of integration, we are still lagging behind other institutions.

This prompted us to undertake an impact evaluation of our social integration work, and investigate further international students’ expectations and experiences of meeting and integrating with UK and other international students. The research involved an online survey sent to all international students and two focus groups run by an external moderator.

The findings from this study unsurprisingly showed that international students wanted to meet and make friends with other international and UK students, but had found integrating with UK students more difficult than expected for a number of reasons. The most interesting finding from the research however shows that international students are happy with the level of support they get to integrate socially, but are dissatisfied with the integration at course level – all students who took part in the research expected they would study alongside UK peers on their course. It is the mismatch from this expectation and the reality of studying in predominantly international (sometimes monocultural) courses that leads to their greatest dissatisfaction. Delivering to this expectation will mean we have to provide a multicultural learning experience to all students, not just international.


025 – Using a cultural lens to explore challenges and issues in culturally diverse schools for Teach First beginning teachers: implications for future teacher training – Dr Alison Hramiak

Presenter: Dr Alison Hramiak, Owen 429, ext 6023 A.Hramiak@shu.ac.ukTheme: Supporting StudentsAnticipated outcomes: Dissemination of innovative good practice that better prepares students for placements by developing courses that better suit their requirements.

Session outline (or abstract):

This short paper explores the challenges and issues faced by Teach First teachers during their first year of teaching in a culturally diverse school, and describes the strategies they employ to overcome them. Using a variety of methods, both qualitative and quantitative data are collected, focussing on the perspectives of the teachers over the course of the academic year. Three common themes emerged from the findings; firstly, there is evidence from all data sets that cultural challenges exist for the participants, and that they have developed strategies for overcoming them during the course of the year. Secondly, the cultural gap revealed by the data is not necessarily seen as one between staff and pupils, but exists more between curriculum and pupils. Thirdly, while cultural differences have caused some problems for the participants, they have come to recognise that although they cannot change the whole culture of the school and its pupils, they can make a difference in their classrooms. The cultural lens provided ideas to better prepare future trainees for this type of situation in schools, and also added to a growing body of knowledge in this area. This in turn enables us to develop our future courses for such trainees in ways that better suit them, with more appropriate curriculum topics, and prepare them better for placement in doing so. Such enhanced preparation would also be applicable to other teacher training routes, and as such could be extrapolated to other situations such as PGCEs and Schools Direct Initial Teacher Education. In better preparing our own trainees for their work in schools, we might also better prepare ourselves as HE tutors in teacher training – an aspect of this work that would be worth further study. To engage with these changes, we may need to see culture differently, than we have previously done, and raise our awareness, and those of our trainees to the issues that might arise in situations like the one described here.

Session activities for engagement:

Interactive power point presentation that includes some short activities for audience to get them thinking about their own course and practice and how they might improve this in the light of the findings from this study.


AU, K. H. & BLAKE, K. M. 2003. Cultural Identity and Learning to Teach in a Diverse Community. Journal of Teacher Education, 54, 192-205.

BOURDIEU, P. 1983. The Forms of Capital. In: HALSEY, A. H., LAUDER, H., BROWN, P. & STUART WELLS, A. (eds.) Education Culture Economy Society. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

BRUNER, J. 1996. The Culture of Education, Cambridge MA, Harvard University Press.

EUN, B. 2011. A Vygotskian theory-based professional development: implications for culturally diverse classrooms. Professional Development in Education, 37, 319-333.

GAY, G. 2010. Acting on Beliefs in Teacher Education for Cultural Diversity. Journal of Teacher Education, 61, 143-152.

GORARD, S. & TAYLOR, C. 2004. Combining Methods in Educational and Social Research, Maidenhead, OU Press.

HAGGARTY, L., POSTLETHWAITE, K., DIMENT, K. & ELLINS, J. 2011. Improving the learning of newly qualified teachers in the induction year. British Educational Research Journal (BERJ), 37, 935-954.

HOBSON, A. J., MALDEREZ, A., TRACEY, L., GIANNAKAKI, M., PELL, G. & TOMLINSON, P. 2008. Student teachers’ experiences of initial teacher preparation in England: core themes and variation. Research Papers in Education, 23, 407-433.

MARX, H. 2011. Please Mind the Culture Gap: Intercultural Development During a Teacher Education Study Abroad Program. Journal of Teacher Education, 62, 35-47.

MCDONOUGH, K. 2009. Pathways to Critical Consciousness: A First-Year Teachers’ Engagement with Issues of Race and Equity. Journal of Teacher Education, 60, 528-537.

MUIJS, D., CHAPMAN, C., COLLINS, A. & ARMSTRONG, P. 2010. Maximum Impact Evaluation The Impact of Teach First Teachers in Schools Final Report. Manchester: University of Manchester.

NASH, R. 1999. Bourdieu, ‘Habitus’, and Educational Research: is it all worth the candle? British Journal of  Sociology of Education, 20, 175-187.

RUEDA, R. & STILLMAN, J. 2012. The 21st Century Teacher A Cultural Perspective. Journal of Teacher Education, 63, 245-253.

SLEETER, C. E. 2001. Preparing Teachers for Culturally Diverse Schools. Journal of Teacher Education, 52, 94-106.

25 It’s a balloon Sir! sept 2012 alison hramiak

306 – Two projects in Creative Arts Practice (2013) – Jerome Harrington, Tim Machin

Consisting of two back-to-back presentations this session will discuss two projects that have taken place with Level 6 Creative Arts Practice students (ACES). The projects were conceived to run concurrently with the shared ambition to develop the students sense of identity of their own developing art practice, within the context of this relatively new course.  Both projects instigated discussions which have continued over the year, and have influenced the students final exhibition at Creative Spark.   Jerome Harrington This project involved the production of a map which locates and visualises the position of individual practices within the year group, and locates these practices in relation to the larger sphere of art and design.    The students worked collectively to plot the position of their own work and that of their peers on a large collaged wall ‘map’.  This process of co-construction created a forum in which ideas were shared, and ignited debate regarding the identity of individual practices, as well as that of the course. The project, revealed the diversity of interests and working methods in this year group, and subsequently helped the students to foster clusters of related research interests.     Tim Machin Following Jerome’s project, the students were challenged to test their emerging notion of practice through exhibiting a piece of their work in the wider university. Students were asked to find a location which would add something to their work – for example, a context which subtly changed the meaning or reception of the work, or a space enabling them to work on a more ambitious scale. The project posed significant practical issues (around estates, health and safety) but in encouraging students to engage with these, offered genuine experience of the challenges of exhibiting art work in public spaces.

277 – Ethnographic research into interactions between home and international students in the classroom setting – Miyoung Oh

Strand: Short Conference paper

Anticipated outcomes: widening understanding of the subject area


Sheffield Hallam University as many other universities in the UK has been attracting a great number of students from around the world. International students bring with them different cultural heritage and traditions, enriching their own, as well as home students’, experience at the University. Furthermore, they motivate home students, along with themselves, to develop intercultural skills, which are becoming vital in today’s globalised world. In this sense, international students are valuable resources.

This potential, however, has been often underestimated while rather negative perceptions of them, especially non-EU students, popularly prevail, resulting at times in their segregation from home students in classroom, friendship groups and social life in general. International students have plenty to offer to home students, facilitating them to further develop essential skills and attributes. In this manner, international students’ welfare and their experiences at the University are directly relevant to home students’ learning experiences.

The aims of the research are to investigate interactions amongst students with an emphasis on interactions between home and international students in the classroom setting. In particular, it explores the way they approach, and relate to, one another, the way they form groups and friendship, and how they handle dilemmas and conflicts. The main purpose of this research is to improve integration and cooperation between home and international students and develop intercultural skills.

The postgraduate students enrolled in the Master’s on Sport Business Management programme in the Department of Sport at SHU were the participants of the research. Ethnographic research offered guiding principles for the research. The researchers have observed the students in a number of sessions from October 2012 throughout April 2013. In addition, we have also employed informal and formal interviews with the students to gather fuller and ‘thick’ data.

Click to view presentation:  277 LTA conference presentation 2013

253 – MoRKSS: black and minority ethnic student retention and success – Manny Madriaga, Farhana Ahmad, Alan Donnelly

This paper will feedback on an aspect of a Higher Education Academy (HEA) – funded project at Sheffield Hallam University called MoRKSS (Mobilisation of Research Knowledge for Student Success). Sheffield Hallam University is one of eight institutions in England funded by the HEA to seek interventions to address the issue, particularly with student engagement in mind. This project attempts to examine the issue of gap attainment between white and black minority ethnic (BME) students in the institution, where there is a difference in ‘good honours’ (first or 2.1) achievement in studying for first degrees. Nationally, the difference is 18.4% (Equality Challenge Unit 2011). This paper presentation will share preliminary findings from one aspect of this MoRKSS project, where a research instrument, informed by Kuh’s work on student engagement, has been employed to gauge social and academic integration of particular courses where there is a disproportionate amount of BME students (Sims 2007). Student researchers were recruited to partner in the research design, analysis of data and conduct one-to-one interviews with students on the courses of study. Given the sensitivity and significance of this project, this presentation will also be an opportunity for ‘student’ researchers to share their experiences of being a part of this endeavour. It is hoped that the research findings from this project will be mobilised to inform change within the institution, as well as ignite questions for the rest of the sector.  This paper covers two strands of this conference: supporting students and course identity.

182 – Audio Feedback – one size does not fit all – Michelle Denise Blackburn & Claire Taylor

Strand:                        Technology Enhanced Course

The National Student Survey (NSS) (2012) indicates less than 60% of students perceive their feedback as prompt, detailed and offering sufficient clarification to support understanding.  This is challenging news for HE institutions and course leaders, particularly as NSS scores could influence course recruitment.  As a consequence institutions and academics have sought to deliver improvements on the feedback process and one method used to achieve this has been audio feedback.  As with most learning and teaching innovations there has been a subsequent flurry of research into the ‘student’ experience of audio feedback.  This study looked beyond the notion of the generic ‘student’ and sought to establish how audio feedback impacted on different learner groups:  mature students, traditional undergraduates and those with learning difficulties.  This session will share the results of this research and the experience of academics delivering audio feedback.  Fundamentally it will address the following two questions:

  • How should we approach audio feedback for different learner groups?
  • What is stopping us from routinely using audio feedback?

182 SHU conference presentation

291 – Course diversity: best practice is not good practice – Neil Challis, Michael Robinson

Presenter: Dr Mike Robinson (m.robinson@shu.ac.uk) and Prof Neil Challis (n.challis@shu.ac.uk) Strand: Course identity Anticipated outcomes: A better shared understanding of lessons drawn from the More Math Grads project and experience with our own Mathematics course. Session outline:  Every course is different. Subjects are by their very nature different. The students they tend to attract have different outlooks – as do staff who teach on them.  Few would disagree that this diversity is a good thing. At course level, subject-specific diversity can be reflected in all aspects, and as professionals and experts in our field, we try to match the requirements of our subject, the needs and motivations of our students, the skills and motivations of our staff,  to every aspect of our provision: timetable, teaching and learning styles, assessment types, course management, online presence… Such careful course design leads to a good course, which works well, and which students appreciate (and rate highly). Students understand why their course is different from others; far from denigrating this, they often wear it as a badge of pride and as part of their sense of course identity. Inevitably, successful ideas are shared;  copied, adapted, modified, developed. No-one could possibly oppose the spread of good ideas… until someone, somewhere decides it’s officially “best practice”. Instantly, development of ideas stops. New ideas are killed at birth; because they’re at odds with “best practice”. Modification to individual circumstances is severely restricted – meaning that what was once carefully constructed to meet individual needs is now “one size fits all” and suits almost no-one. The irony is that every part of “best practice” began with someone trying something different, at odds with their institutional norm, and ends with stifling the innovation which keeps it fresh. True good practice recognises this, and encourages and celebrates the diversity

Click to view:  291 course diversity – best practice is not good practice