Transnational Education Research and Development: Paradigm Possibilities

Transnational Education Research and Development: Paradigm Possibilities

Peter Ling (Swinburne University of Technology, Australia)
Copyright: © 2017 |Pages: 13
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-1738-2.ch013
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This chapter comprises reflections on a commissioned project entitled “Learning without borders: Linking development of transnational leadership roles to international and cross-cultural teaching excellence.” The project was designed to identify key issues for leadership in transnational education and in particular, the best arrangements for distributed leadership. It had both a research element and a development element. The research methods employed included observation, document analysis, surveys, focus groups and interviews. The approach to be taken was specified as action research. The paradigm in which the research element was to operate was not specified in the project proposal nor was it mentioned in the project report. The conclusion arrived at in this chapter is that the exercise is best described as falling in the pragmatic paradigm as various research approaches were adopted and a range of methods employed in order to provide a useful response to the commissioned task.
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Introduction And Context

This chapter comprises reflections on a public-sector commissioned project. As for many such projects financed through public funding, the project involved a coincidence of the interests of the funding body and the interests of the proposing institutions.

The research project that constitutes the focal point for this chapter was entitled Learning without borders: Linking development of transnational leadership roles to international and cross-cultural teaching excellence. The project, which relates to higher education, was supported by national funding in Australia, in the first instance through the Australian Learning and Teaching Council (ALTC) as a “Leadership” project and later by the successor to the ALTC, the Australian Government Office for Learning and Teaching (OLT). The project was proposed by two Australian Universities—Swinburne University and Curtin University. Each has a main campus in Australia and a campus in Sarawak, Malaysia. The project commenced in 2009 and concluded, following an extension, in 2013.

The project task was to identify, support and recognize leadership roles amongst academics at on-shore and off-shore Australian operated campuses. The project involved working with unit convenors and program coordinators responsible for interacting with transnational partners for program delivery and quality assurance. The intent was to identify key issues for leadership and in particular, the arrangements for distributed leadership in unit convenor and program coordinator roles. Focusing on both the knowledge base and broader experiences of these staff members, the project was designed to explore and initiate support and development models for wider implementation. The investigation was used to develop and disseminate recommendations for good practice in the recognition, support and development of academics in distributed leadership roles in transnational education and good practice in cross-cultural teaching and the internationalization of the taught curriculum. For purposes of the project, transnational education was defined as “an arrangement for provision of higher education where students acquire an award in one country issued by a higher education institution based in another country” (Mazzolini, Yeo, Ling, & Hall, 2012). The recommendations from the project provided the basis for ongoing implementation of programs and structures within the partner institutions (Mazzolini et al., 2012, p. 5).

The project, then, had both research and development components. The research element involved investigating the nature of current arrangements for the leadership of transnational education, both on home campuses and on transnational campuses, and the consequences of the model adopted for the staff involved as well as for student learning. One intention in the design of the project was to identify good practice in leadership of transnational education. The proposal had a development component producing recommendations for the management and leadership of transnational education as well as materials to support staff development aligned to the recommendations.

The research paradigm to be adopted in the project was not explicit but there was a statement of the approach to be employed—action research—and included in the report of the project were details of the data collection methods used and means of data analysis adopted. Reflecting on the research paradigm underpinning this project using the paradigm model in the introductory chapter of this book there is more than one possibility.

In determining the paradigm base of this project the research questions, the methodology, the form of the findings and nature of the outcomes of the project will be addressed. The ontology, axiology and epistemology underpinning the project have to be inferred and will be addressed in the discussion section of the chapter. The conclusion provides reflection on the paradigm into which the exercise fits.

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