Crossing cultural boundaries with a cuppa: a case study of cultural wellbeing within a postgraduate peer circle

Year: 2016

Author: Pavlyshyn, Halyna, Emery, Sherridan, Hedayati, Mohsen, Nur, Shakila

Type of paper: Refereed paper

International postgraduate students often experience lack of cultural and social exposure which can lead to the decreased participation in collaborative projects. This, combined with a strong focus on their own research projects can create difficulties in finding common ground for scholarly cooperation. Furthermore, cultural diversity amongst postgraduate students can exacerbate academic isolation.Evidence suggests that there is a strong connection between wellbeing and student engagement in learning (Reeve, Deci & Ryan, 2004). Therefore, the question raised in the article is: how does collaboration within a culturally diverse peer circle of postgraduate students contribute to cultural wellbeing? Could the state of cultural wellbeing improve postgraduate student involvement into collaborative projects?This paper reports on a qualitative case study conducted at the University of Tasmania by a self-organised group of postgraduate students. Interviews and participants’ reflections were thematically analysed and discussed in relation to Bourdieu’s theories of capital (1986) and Hofstede’s sociolinguistic theory of cultural dimensions (2001).The results of the case study reveal the ways in which the weekly “Australian Tea” peer circle created opportunities for effective research collaborations while also increasing the cultural, social and institutional capital of participating students (Bourdieu, 1986). Consequently, the study demonstrates the importance of cross-cultural interaction for enhancing the cultural wellbeing of both international and domestic postgraduate students.References:Bourdieu, P. (1986). The forms of capital. In J. Richardson (Ed.), Handbook of theory and research for the sociology of education (pp. 241-258). New York, NY: Greenwood. Hofstede, Geert (2001). Culture's Consequences: Comparing Values, Behaviors, Institutions and Organizations Across Nations. Thousand Oaks CA: Sage Publications.Reeve, J., Deci, E.L., & Ryan, R.M. (2004). Self-determination theory: A dialectical framework for understanding sociocultural influences on student motivation. In D. M. McInerney & S. van Etten (Eds.), Big theories revisited (pp. 31-56). Greenwich, CT: Information Age Publishing.