Culturally Responsive Pathway Pedagogues: Respecting the Intricacies of Student Diversity in the Classroom

Culturally Responsive Pathway Pedagogues: Respecting the Intricacies of Student Diversity in the Classroom

Donna M. Velliaris (Eynesbury Institute of Business and Technology, Australia)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-9953-3.ch002
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The Eynesbury Institute of Business and Technology (EIBT) is a pre-university pathway institution to The University of Adelaide or the University of South Australia. This chapter contributes to improving the understanding of effective communication across culturally diverse classrooms. As evidenced in the qualitative data collected from a small number of EIBT educators, in order to become a culturally relevant pedagogue, one must be prepared to engage in a reflective process about what it means to teach students and communicate with those who come from a different cultural background. Pedagogical preferences must be (re)conceptualised in a manner that recognises and respects the intricacies of cultural difference. As a pathway institution, EIBT is a unique educational setting and this work presents ‘authentic' educator-practitioner narratives that contribute to a rather shallow body of knowledge pertaining to this increasingly important sector of Higher Education (HE).
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Background: A Pre-University Pathway

The Eynesbury Institute of Business and Technology (EIBT) was founded in 1998 and has since established a strong international profile for pre-university pathways. Specific to this research are the students who enter EIBT to undertake a Diploma in Business; Information Technology; or Engineering with provisional entry into The University of Adelaide or the University of South Australia. EIBT attracts students early in their tertiary lifecycle and secures their HE destination prior to them meeting direct entry requirements (Bode, 2013; Fiocco, 2006; Navitas, 2014; Velliaris & Willis, 2014; Velliaris, Willis, & Breen, 2015). EIBT diplomas comprise the same eight courses that constitute the ‘first-year’ of a bachelor degree at the partner university.

EIBT student recruitment is predominantly directed towards full fee-paying international students who: (a) have completed Year 11 high school in Australia and would prefer to continue their studies in a different academic context; (b) have completed Year 12 high school in Australia, but did not obtain an Australian Tertiary Admission Rank (ATAR-score) sufficient for direct entry into university; (c) have graduated from high school abroad, but whose English language proficiency did not meet the minimum requirement for direct entry into university; or (d) are 20+ years of age with a relevant employment history. Approximately 40 ‘sessional’ lecturers ranging in age from their 20s (PhD candidates) to their 60s (experienced academics and/or workplace professionals), deliver 40 courses across three back-to-back trimesters. The pathway university moderates diploma program delivery and grants advanced standing i.e., credit transfer—equivalent to first-year—for all eight courses if students achieve an overall minimum entry-level Grade Point Average (GPA) upon diploma graduation.

EIBT students are generally between 17-27 years and throughout 2014 represented more than 20 different nationalities/ethnicities (Velliaris & Breen, 2014; Velliaris & Coleman-George, 2014; Velliaris & Willis, 2014). In alphabetical order they included: Bangladesh, Cambodia, China [mainland, Hong Kong and Macau], Colombia, Egypt, France, India, Indonesia, Iran;,Kenya, Lebanon, Libya, Malaysia, Nepal, Nigeria, Oman, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, South Korea, Sri Lanka, Taiwan, Turkey,Venezuela, and Vietnam (See Table 1). Encounters with students from such varied ethnic, geographic, linguistic, and/or religious upbringings, together with backgrounds such as age, gender, generation, lifestyle, sexual orientation, and/or social class, invites critical awareness of commonalties and points of difference.

Table 1.
Citizenship of EIBT students over the past eight trimesters
Hong Kong4865515051293027
South Korea77533322

Key Terms in this Chapter

Pedagogy: Educators’ professional practice, especially those aspects that involve building and nurturing relationships, program decision-making, teaching and learning, and assessment.

Well-Being: Sound well-being results from the satisfaction of basic needs: tenderness and affection; security and clarity; social recognition; to feel competent; physical needs and for meaning in life. It includes happiness and satisfaction, effective social functioning, and the dispositions of optimism, openness, curiosity and resilience.

Course: A syllabus item offered by EIBT or one subject leading to an EIBT diploma award (8-courses required for graduation). Such courses are identified by a subject area and catalogue number e.g., ECON1008 is a first-year ‘Principals of Economics’ course.

International Student(s): Individuals enrolled in the Eynesbury Institute of Business and Technology on temporary student visas and who are almost exclusively Non-English Speaking Background (NESB). An international applicant must be eligible for an Australian student visa and may be liable for international tuition fees. Students are not ‘international’ if they are an Australian citizen, Australian dual citizen, Permanent Resident (PR) of Australia, and/or a New Zealand citizen studying in Australia.

The Group of Eight (Go8): A coalition of leading Australian universities; comprehensive in general and professional education and distinguished by depth and breadth in research.

Statement of Attainment: The formal certification in the VET sector by an Registered Training Organisation (RTO) under the Australian Qualifications Framework (AQF) that an individual has achieved part of a qualification; or one or more units of competency or modules from a nationally endorsed training package; or all the units of competency or modules comprising learning outcomes for an accredited course that does not meet the requirements for an AQF qualification.

Advanced Standing (also Credit, Course Exemption, Exemption): The acknowledgement that a person has satisfied the requirements of a module/course (subject) or unit of competency either through previous study (Credit Transfer) or through work or life experience (Recognition of Prior Learning). The granting of credit exempts the student from the identified course: a student granted credit for a course is not required to complete that course in order to qualify for the award.

Recognised Tertiary Education Provider: An education provider registered by the relevant government authority to deliver tertiary awards.

Registered Training Organisation: Organisations registered by Australian state and territory training authorities to deliver nationally recognised training.

Culture: A broad concept that encompasses the beliefs, knowledge, language, lifestyle, norms, practices, skills, traditions, and values shared by a group of people.

Grade Point Average (GPA): The average of the grades obtained in all courses, weighted by the unit value of each course. If students are enrolled in more than one program, they will have a program GPA for each, calculated using the final grades for the courses associated with each program.

Relationships: Interactions that further students’ well-being, learning and development. Both educators and the students have intent to learn from each other.

EIBT: The Eynesbury Institute of Business and Technology offers full fee-paying pre-university pathway Diplomas in: (1) Business; (2) Information Technology; and (3) Engineering, predominantly for international students entering one of two South Australian higher education institutions: The University of Adelaide ; or The University of South Australia.

Culturally Relevant Pedagogy: Teaching that integrates a student’s background knowledge and prior home and community experiences into the curriculum and the educative experiences that take place in the classroom.

Recognition of Prior Learning: The determination, on an individual basis, of the advanced standing the learner is entitled to as a result of previous formal training, work experience and/ or life experience.

Pathway Provider: Educational institutions that offer students alternative forms of entry into university programs. Applicants may include: early school leavers; those that have not achieved the academic and/or English requirements to obtain direct entry; or students looking to return to study after a period of absence.

Inclusion: Taking into account students’ social, cultural and linguistic diversity (including learning styles, abilities, disabilities, gender, family circumstances and geographic location) in teaching and learning decision-making processes. The intent is to ensure that all students have equitable access to resources and participation, and opportunities to demonstrate their learning and to value difference.

Credit Transfer: The determination, on an individual basis, of the advanced standing the learner is entitled to as a result of module/course (subject) or unit of competency completed at another institution.

Diploma: An EIBT diploma comprises 8-courses that take between 6-months and 2-years to complete. Diplomas are generally considered equivalent to first-year at the degree level. Such diplomas in Australia are delivered by universities, technical colleges and other private Registered Training Organisations (RTOs).

Articulation: This is the process by which a university matches its courses or requirements to coursework completed at another institution e.g., EIBT. Students use course articulation to assure that courses they have previously completed will not have to be repeated at the institution to which they wish to transfer.

Australian Tertiary Admission Rank (ATAR): The primary criterion for entry into most undergraduate-entry university programs in Australia. The ATAR score is derived from a single aggregate score that is the sum of the four best subjects that the student completed at a Year 12 standard added to 10% of the sum of the weakest two subjects (for a total of 6 subjects).

Acculturation: In its simplest sense, this includes the changes that arise following contact between/among individuals from a different cultural background. This may lead to progressive adoption of elements of the other culture e.g., ideas, words, values and/or behaviours.

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