Internationalizing the Curriculum to Benefit both International and Domestic Students
The traditional teaching and learning environment that is currently dominant across Canadian universities does not take into consideration international students’ previous educational backgrounds and diverse learning needs9.
The Internationalization of the Curriculum (loC) is a “powerful and practical way of bridging the gap between rhetoric and practice to including and valuing the contribution of international students"10 (p100).
More importantly, it enables both international and domestic students to develop an intercultural expertise to succeed in post-secondary studies and in increasingly transitional workplace1.
Strategies to Internationalize the Curriculum at the Course Level:
The Course Design Wheel11(p23)
The course design wheel provides a framework for a student-centered learning to internationalization of the curriculum which is supported by three major pillars11:
- Internationalization in content
- Internationalization in instructional strategies (teaching & learning)
- Interculturally sensitive assessment techniques
Internationalization in Course Content
Course content should include diverse perspectives and cultural differences. A straightforward way to internationalize course content is to draw on research studies conducted in different countries. By doing so, international students will feel empowered as they have access to locate research from their countries and in their languages12.
More Tips to Help Infuse Diverse Perspectives and Cultural Differences into Course Content8,13:
- Include subject matters relating to global and inter-cultural perspectives (e.g., inclusion of international and national case studies, examples, and illustrations);
- Address how knowledge is constructed differently across cultures;
- Make good use of international guest speakers who are on campus;
- Collaborate with colleagues and join networks of faculty who teach the same or similar courses in and outside Canada.
It is worth noting that, "internationalization goes beyond the mere addition of international examples. It needs to permeate the very nature of the discipline so that students gain a global understanding and perspective of the discipline"14(p94).
Internationalization in Teaching & Learning
Internationalization of curriculum requires instructors to optimize opportunities in planning and delivering courses that enhance international students' learning and create supportive learning environments to engage all students8.
However, interactions between students who perceive themselves to be different from each other seldom happen unless initiated12. Therefore, instructors need to set the tone at the early stage of the course to encourage intercultural interactions.
Interaction for Learning Framework
The Interaction for Learning Framework is composed of six interrelated dimensions, each represents a particular teaching aspect and learning opportunities associated with interactions between students of diverse cultural and linguistic backgrounds8.
- Acknowledges and capitalizes on student diversity as a resource for learning and teaching;
- Engages students from diverse cultural and linguistic backgrounds within the learning context in a variety of ways;
- Embeds interaction in curriculum planning and links to teaching, learning and assessment;
- Promotes peer engagement through curriculum-based activities; and
- Recognizes the variety of ways that interaction can be utilized across different learning contexts.
Explore the Six Components of the Interaction for Learning Framework
To learn more about the Interaction for Learning Framework and check a short video about engaging students, please use the link below:
Arkoudis, S., et al (2010). Finding Common Ground: enhancing interaction between domestic and international students. Retrieved June 28, 2017, from:
Interculturally Sensitive Assessment Techniques
As international students bring different educational experiences, assessment may be one of the most important areas in which international students need guidance8. Instructors will need to explain the assessment criteria and offer constructive feedback which provides international students with direction on how to improve academic performance19.
Tips for internationalizing assessment include13 (p14):
- Make assessment criteria related to global/multicultural capability explicit to students;
- Map out the links between assessment criteria and international standards in the discipline area or profession for students, so that they are aware of why the assessment items are important.
- Use assessment tasks early in the course which provide feedback on students' background knowledge, so that teaching can be modeled in such a way as to 'fill in' any gaps in requisite knowledge or skills and hence combat risk of failure;
- Include assessment items that draw on cultural contexts as well as disciplinary knowledge (e.g., comparative exercises that involve comparing/contrasting local and international standards, practices, issues, etc.);
- Design assessment tasks that require students to present information to, and receive feedback from, an international' or cross-cultural audience;
- Design activities that encourage students to interact with other another (real or virtual).
- Include the use of peer evaluation and feedback.
In addition, international students do not always fully demonstrate what they have learned because they may have difficulty understanding the instructor's expectations14. Therefore, instructors may reflect on the following questions14 (p99) while designing assessments.
- [Am I] assessing students for their mastery of academic discourse rather than for their critical or original thinking?
- [Do I] recognize or encourage different styles and approaches to learning?
- [Do I] allow students to use their own words and ways of expressing themselves?
- [Do I] assess content rather than penalize for spelling or grammatical expression except in the cases where spelling and grammar are inherent in the assessment criteria?