Cultural teaching and teaching culture: lessons from students and academics in some transnational degree programs

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Wallace, M & Dunn, L 2005, 'Cultural teaching and teaching culture: lessons from students and academics in some transnational degree programs', paper presented to Knowledge, culture & learning in the new world: The fifth international conference on Knowledge, Culture and Change in Organisations, University of the Aegean, Rhodes, Greece, 19-22 July.


The new global economy has fashioned academics and university education into new forms that include the internationalization of higher education. Australian universities have increasingly looked to Asia as an education 'market' although they also offer a great many programs worldwide. Degrees are offered to students who remain in their home countries rather than travelling abroad for study. This is commonly referred to by Australian academics as 'teaching off-shore' although the term 'transnational' teaching and learning offers a more inclusive world view. Transnational teaching and learning is a complex and challenging cultural experience for academics who grapple with challenges such as whether (and how) to offer essentially western curriculum and pedagogy in transnational programs. It is also a challenge for students of different cultures to learn from western academics, who periodically travel to students' home countries in order to teach them. In the context of some perspectives on learning preferences, cross cultural communication and professional development, this paper discusses two empirical research studies. The first is a qualitative examination of the experiences of staff and students in a degree program run by an Australian university in partnership with a Singaporean educational organisation. In this study the students' voices regarding the challenges of undertaking their program of study are heard. In addition, the experiences of academics adapting to a different culture, student expectations and learning processes are examined. The second study involves a broader survey of academics from a number of Australian universities, who teach transnationally. Cultural issues relating to pedagogy, the relationship between academic and student and the informal and formal professional learning of academics in their own organizational milieu and in transnational settings are discussed.