Employing a dialogic approach to develop intercultural competence in a regional Australian university.

Year: 2018

Author: Einfalt, Johanna

Type of paper: Abstract refereed

In an increasingly globalized world, it is clear that universities need to produce students who are able to communicate across different cultures and successfully interact in a range of diverse contexts. It is less clear, however, how this can be achieved within higher education institutions. Literature points to a lack of social interaction between international and domestic students, arguing that universities are not maximising the opportunity offered by a diverse presence on campus. This presentation will report on a case study that investigates possible shifts in the development of intercultural competence in a group of commencing students at a regional university in Queensland. A mixed group of domestic and international students were invited to participate in a series of guided forums designed to promote dialogic intercultural interactions. These forums, guided by the principles of dialogic learning, aimed to facilitate discussion around topics related to identity, oral communication and developing intercultural understandings. Dialogic learning claims that it is essential for a person to engage with a variety of differing utterances and perspectives in order to fully understand a particular context, and also the self, thus creating open-ended dialogues, or an ongoing chain of dialogue. Underpinned by Bakhtin’s theory of dialogism and Deardorff’s intercultural competence model, this study has employed interviews, video recordings, reflections and stimulated recall sessions to explore what influence, if any, the dialogic forums have had on student participants. It also utilises interaction analysis to provide valuable insights into how students from a range of cultural backgrounds use language to communicate during forums. By exploring how these students interact during the dialogic forums, findings provided by this research study will be of significance to the university sector. It contributes: a fine-grained understanding of interactions at the dialogic level; an in-depth voicing of the student experience; and analysis of how, or if, a dialogic approach can develop intercultural competence in higher education students.