Cultural Diversity: Misconceptions, Misinterpretations, and Misunderstandings in the Classroom

Cultural Diversity: Misconceptions, Misinterpretations, and Misunderstandings in the Classroom

Donna M. Velliaris (University of South Australia, Australia) and Janine M. Pierce (University of South Australia, Australia)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-2069-6.ch006
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Abstract

Autoethnography is a genre of writing that connects the personal to the cultural, placing the self within a social context. These texts are usually written in the first-person and feature dialogue, emotion, and self-consciousness as relational and institutional stories are affected by history, culture and social structure; authors use their ‘own' experiences to look deeply at ‘self-other' interactions by starting with ‘self'. Both authors, educators at the Eynesbury Institute of Business and Technology (EIBT) responded to the question: In the context of EIBT, what significant professional experiences of miscommunication have had an impact on your pedagogical praxis today? Educators are constantly in the process of negotiating the social, cultural and educational forces, trends and structures within which they work. These researcher-practitioners share the ‘lived' cultural misconceptions, misinterpretations, and misunderstandings they have experienced in this school setting and in their own classrooms.
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Background

The Eynesbury Institute of Business and Technology (EIBT) was founded in 1998 and has since established a strong profile for pre-university pathways. Specific to this research are the students who enter EIBT to undertake a Diploma in:

  • 1.

    Business;

  • 2.

    Engineering; and

  • 3.

    Information Technology

EIBT diplomas comprise the same courses that constitute the ‘first-year’ of a Bachelor’s degree at the partner university; The University of Adelaide or the University of South Australia. EIBT international students are generally between the ages of 17-23 years and represent more than 20 different nationalities/ethnicities at any one time (Velliaris & Coleman-George, 2015a, 2015b; Velliaris, Willis, & Breen, 2015a, 2015b; Velliaris, Willis, & Pierce, 2015). The impetus for this research was the recognition that—as an Australian 'pathway' provider—EIBT lecturers face many social, cultural and educational challenges resulting from greater numbers, nations and ability-levels within its international student demographic (refer to Table 1).

Table 1.
Citizenship/ethnicity of EIBT students over the past three years
Country2012-032013-012013-022013-032014-012014-022014-032015-012015-022015-03
Australia7952435522
China113154139137205202256305247252
Hong Kong48655150512930272533
India-5891210101057
Indonesia-246414322
Kenya--13555633
Macao233133-201815
Malaysia614129161717644
South Korea7753332236
Vietnam10101211192426231518
Other1317914191819171320
Total206286249245341315374424337362

NB: Trimester 1 in 2012 (= 2012-01), Trimester 2 in 2012 (= 2012-02), and Trimester 3 in 2012 (= 2012-03) etc.

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