Research digest for practitioners: May 2016

Research digest for practitioners: May 2016

This month’s Journal of Studies in International Education addresses topic areas that are central to the field, including intercultural competence, barriers to study abroad and the student experience. Bridging research with practice is the main aim of the research digest. We hope this blog gives you a little teaser to entice you to explore the articles in more depth.    

Why Do Countries Differ in Their Rates of Outbound Student Mobility?

Topic: Factors of outbound student mobility

Why do students leave their home countries to study elsewhere? Kritz investigates this question by assessing the constrained-schooling notion which suggests that students go abroad because they lack study opportunities at home. UNESCO data was used to empirically test outbound student mobility in 190 countries. The findings align with the constrained-schooling thesis; countries with lower tertiary supply have higher outward student mobility.

Definition of Intercultural Competence According to Undergraduate Students at an International University in Germany

By: Özen Odağ, Hannah R. Wallin and Karina K. Kedzior

Topic: Conceptualisation of intercultural competence

We know how scholars define intercultural competence, but how do students define it? This qualitative study found that interaction, communication and cultural harmony are the key aspects of how 130 undergraduate students studying at a German university conceptualise intercultural competence. Results from a questionnaire show that students define intercultural competence as understanding the worldviews of others, and having the skills to interact and communicate with people from other cultures. These findings differs from how international scholars define intercultural competence in the sense that students focus less on the introspective aspects of cultural self-reflection, awareness, and skills than international scholars.

Empty Success or Brilliant Failure: An Analysis of Chinese Students’ Study Abroad Experience in a Collaborative Master of Education Program

By: Wang Fang, Anthony Clarke and Yu Wei

Topic: Student experience

This study follows a cohort of 14 Chinese students enrolled in a collaborative Master’s programme in education offered by a Chinese and Canadian institution. The research focused in on the nature and substance of the student experience by gathering data via interviews, surveys, and evaluations throughout the two year programme. Four specific dimensions of the programme were assessed: expectations, feelings, attitudes and experience, leading to four tensions experienced by the students:

  1. The system of schooling versus the educative agenda
  2. A teaching qualification versus a degree in Education
  3. Being tied to a desk versus being free to explore
  4. And reporting on versus inquiring into practice.

The authors were facilitators and instructors in the programme and used this study as a reflective exercise to challenge the ‘victory narrative’ that is often used when describing study abroad experiences.

Building a Norm of Internationalization: The Case of Estonia’s Higher Education System

By: Merli Tamtik and Laura Kirss

Topic: The processes leading to internationalisation

This article explores the process of how internationalisation was built by actors and stakeholders resulting in a country-specific, Estonian approach. How did the idea of internationalisation get promoted, adopted, and disseminated and eventually become a norm in Estonian higher education? Data from 28 interviews, three focus groups and numerous policy documents were analysed.

Three stages were identified in the findings:

  1. Norm emergence (mid-1990s–2005): the emergence of norm-entrepreneurs from the Ministry and higher education institutions for political and economic motives
  2. Norm cascade (2006–2010): the number of norm-followers increased with the addition of higher education administrators, international networks, and foundations. The motives during this phase were mostly placated on legitimacy and reputation.
  3. Internationalisation (2010–onward): norms become widely accepted resulting in conformity in law, bureaucracy, and professions.

Similar Students and Different Countries? An Analysis of the Barriers and Drivers for Erasmus Participation in Seven Countries

By: Maarja Beerkens, Manuel Souto-Otero, Hans de Wit and Jeroen Huisman

Topic: Erasmus participation

Increasing the number of students participating in study abroad is a policy interest in Europe, especially in light of the Erasmus+ programme. But what are the perceived barriers to participating in an Erasmus exchange period? Student survey data from seven countries was used to assess perceived barriers and drivers impacting Erasmus participation. The findings show that home ties and lack of interest are the most robust barriers for non-participation in the Erasmus programme. The main motivational factor for Erasmus participation is cultural experience. While the analysis did show some differences between countries, it showed little about systematic differences across countries.

Leasa Weimer is Knowledge Development Adviser at the EAIE

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Leasa Weimer
EAIE, the NetherlandsLeasa is Knowledge Development Adviser for the EAIE.