How to Put Internationalisation into (Your Teaching) Practice?
The Importance of Internationalisation in Teaching Practice
Internationalisation is often reduced to ‘study abroad’ initiatives or student exchange, but it entails so much more. Ghent University’s strategic objective “Internationalisation” aims to maximize opportunities to acquire international and intercultural competencies for all students, including “at-home” students. Find out how you can contribute to these so-called Internationalisation@Home or I@H initiatives:
- by putting study programme competencies with an international/intercultural approach into (your own) teaching practice;
- by adding new final competencies to your course sheet(s) in which you specify exactly what you want to achieve with the students in terms of internationalisation.
Ghent University’s Definition of Internationalisation
Ghent University’s Integrated Policy Plan for Internationalisation 2019-2023 brings together internationalization priorities and outlines the benefits of an international experience as follows:
- enhanced critical thought, problem-solving and creative skills;
- personal development;
- enhanced language skills;
- a broader perception of society.
Precisely these characteristics are highly valued in our diverse Flemish society, and on a national and international labour market. It is our aim, therefore, that all our graduates acquire international/intercultural competencies during their study career at Ghent University.
How to Incorporate Internationalisation into Final Competencies?
We ask of all our study programmes to focus on international/intercultural competencies, and to bring those competencies into alignment with their specific context. Course competencies are a further fine-tuning of those programme competencies. Study programme competencies can be consulted on the Study Guide website: enter your study programme and click ‘study programme competencies’ in the left column. Focusing on internationalization does not necessarily feature explicitly in the course competencies.
How to Put Internationalisation into (Your Teaching) Practice?
The principle of constructive alignment requires that your chosen teaching and learning activities are in line with with your course unit’s (units’) international/intercultural final competencies. Whichever teaching method you choose, always explicitly explain to the students why that particular teaching method contributes to international/intercultural competencies, especially with low-threshold teaching methods. Find inspiration in the overview below containing low-threshold as well as more intensive teaching methods:
Invite visiting professors (online or on campus)
International visiting professors can add an international/intercultural dimension to your course unit(s). Be sure to contextualise their contributions sufficiently – clearly establish the link to international/intercultural competencies – and make sure that it fits seamlessly into the logical structure of your course unit.
Use international cases into lecturers and/or study materials
International content in lecturers or study materials is a low-threshold way to offer different perspectives, insights and concepts (cf. Ghent University’s education vision and strategy on multiperspectivism):
- compare various examples of international literature or practical examples and point out the contextual differences explicitly;
- refer to your own international/intercultural research or professional experience and the concomitant challenges.
Use active teaching methods in a culturally heterogeneous setting
- consider the international students in your group when you use active teaching methods (e.g. interaction methods, individual assignments, using authentic contexts, collaborative learning);
- let students collaborate (online) on specific cases with international peers. A heterogeneous group works best for this. If students are reluctant, demonstrate the added value, establish the link with the international/intercultural competencies and study programme competencies. Regularly ask students for feedback on their learning process.
Provide local interaction with representatives of other cultures
Stimulate local interaction with representatives of other cultures.
Provide online (open source) material
- more and more universities are developing online learning materials which they then make available as an open educational resource. Examples are the platforms of the Georg-August-Universität Göttingen and the University of Michigan. Preferably choose (English) materials from partner universities whose quality is guaranteed, and for which you can make specific agreements, for example in the context of ENLIGHT (European University Network);
- take into account the foreign language skills of your students.
Stimulate collaboration in comparative research
Stimulate collaboration with (foreign) students in the context of a Master’s dissertation or other research assignments, for example exchange students residing in Ghent (on campus) or students at partner universities (online). Ask them to link their research results to the local context and draw conclusions from it.
Organise an international classroom
A culturally diversified student population offers opportunities to deliberately mix regular students and international (exchange) students. If this happens on a large scale, in combination with international content, visiting professors, an suitable didactic approach and adapted classroom management, this is called an international classroom.
Develop a learning path on 'International Collaborative Learning'
With Collaborative Online International Learning (COIL), you can develop an online learning path with (a) foreign partner(s) in which students from different backgrounds work together on a specific case. At Ghent University, COIL is still in its infancy, but there are a number of good examples abroad. The European University Network ENLIGHT offers opportunities to develop COIL.
How to Assess Internationalisation?
If you assess international/intercultural final competencies in your course units, there are a number of points to consider:
- choose a suitable assessment method. International and intercultural competencies encompass knowledge and understanding as well as skills and attitudes. You need to tailor your assessment to the teaching and learning activities – ranging from ‘traditional’ credit exchanges to sporadic I@H teaching activities - that teach students international/intercultural competencies.
- traditional exams are an obvious choice to assess students’ knowledge and understanding of international/intercultural competencies, e.g. knowledge of one’s own cultural rules and biases;
- to assess specific skills (e.g. working together in an international team) or attitudes (e.g. systematically taking into account intercultural diversity in professional actions) (group) assignments, projects, self-assessment, peer assessment, portfolio are more suitable;
- according to the SAGE Handbook of Intercultural Competence, the combination of direct and indirect assessment methods works well to assess international/intercultural competencies. In the context of an international classroom, for example:
- students in a well-considered and mixed group can demonstrate in a joint presentation (i.e. direct product-oriented assessment) that they are able to work in an international team;
- by means of a reflective journal (i.e.: indirect assessment), in which the same group of students reflects on co-operation problems (and their solutions), they demonstrate that they have acquired international/intercultural competencies.
- Use clear, observable assessment criteria to assess more complex aspects of international/intercultural competencies. Clarify what you mean by those international/intercultural competencies. Use slightly broader assessment criteria, based on your learning objectives, supplemented with levels or standards that indicate the extent to which each criterion has been met. Rubrics conveniently combine assessment criteria and levels or standards. For example, you could use the rubric for intercultural knowledge and competency. You can adapt this rubric specifically to what you want to assess in the course unit.
The Master’s dissertation and work placement are a means for future graduates to demonstrate that they can apply the acquired knowledge and skills in an integrated manner. In case of Master’s dissertations or work placements with an international component, therefore, it is necessary to include the acquisition of international/intercultural competencies in the corresponding assessment forms.