Reflecting on the lessons learned from cross cultural research experiences

Year: 2016

Author: Ham, Miriam

Type of paper: Abstract refereed

Research conducted in a cross cultural setting, where the researcher is positioned as a cultural outsider, inherently comprises additional challenges to that of research conducted in a familiar cultural context. This paper examines the experiences of an Australian researcher conducting research with Nepali Primary teachers in Nepal. The mixed methods research aimed at examining Nepali teachers’ beliefs about their practice in the context of national educational reform. The data gathered indicated that though teachers strongly agreed with the philosophies of Learner Centred Education underpinning the reform they were not implementing the introduced practices. A range of individual and systemic beliefs were identified as barriers to the implementation. A critical reflection by the researcher from this experience revealed several lessons learned that are useful to guide others conducting Educational research in cross cultural contexts. These lessons can broadly be categorised under the three headings, Construction, Connections and Cognition. Construction details the practical lessons learned from the design, development and administrative phases of the data collection. Connections refers to the relationships and links with key representatives indigenous to the context as informed by the work of Torrance (2012). Cognition is an exploration of the epistemological challenges that arose because of differing definitions of what constituted knowledge and a discussion about moral justification, discussed by Jaggar and Tobin (2013), of the involvement of the researcher in the schools. The examination of these reflections and lessons will contribute to the discussion about cross cultural educational research. The purpose of which is to provide valuable insights to guide the practice of researchers conducting research in educational settings in cross cultural contexts.