Global voices in science: international students enhancing STEM learning and improving integration


Blog for members
25 April 2019
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“International students show some of the things we talk about in science are a lot more complex, it [Global Voice programme] will help my students break out of their Eurocentric, British centric way of looking at things.”

(Teaching staff member)

Nottingham Trent University ran a UKCISA-funded pilot project to involve international students as speakers to enhance the curriculum for all learners. The pilot focused on STEM subjects, where international students are widely represented but the curriculum’s internationalisation strategy is not yet developed. 

The report gives a useful overview of the project, including challenges faced, outcomes and recommendations to run similar programmes in your institution. Please pass on to relevant departments at your institution.

Ultimately the project aimed to celebrate the diversity of international students’ knowledge and perspectives about relevant topics while enhancing all students’ understanding of the subject. 

The team invited interested academic staff to express an interest in taking part, providing details of the module content they’d like an international perspective on, explaining the specific activity and any country or subject knowledge required. This information was used to invite international students to take part.

Students were invited to share knowledge and experience from their home countries about specific topics: for example, in Sports Physiology the student shared insights into living at high altitudes. In the Wildlife Conservation topic, the student presented details of local conflicts between wildlife conservation and human habitation.

Both students and staff took part in a preparatory workshop to explore different approaches, objectives of the programme and how it would be evaluated. In advance of the session, participating students shared types of examples they would give to the group, which allowed staff an opportunity to confirm that they were relevant to the class and work together on the most appropriate method (ie debates, role plays or presentations). This gave students more confidence in the delivery of their ideas. 

“My contributions were valued. After my presentation, the students were eagerly asking me questions.”

(International student)

Evaluation of the project revealed that international students felt valued for their contribution and more confident in their English language skills. The project had a positive impact on all students – they all felt they benefitted from hearing diverse viewpoints. Both staff and students reported evidence of better integration of home and international students. 
Nottingham Trent University has created some recommendations for running a similar project in your own institution, including providing training for the international students involved so that they feel confident entering the classroom. 

View the full report at ukcisa.org.uk/GlobalVoices

 

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