Cross-Cultural Perspectives in Educational Research

Cross-Cultural Perspectives in Educational Research

Cross-Cultural Perspectives in Educational Research

Cross-Cultural Perspectives in Educational Research

Synopsis

The research student population of higher educational institutions continues to expand to include people from an ever-widening range of cultural and educational backgrounds. However, many research methods courses are still directed at the traditional student population. This book examines aspects of postgraduate research from a cross-cultural perspective, analysing the dilemmas faced by international students when defining a research question, choosing research methods, collecting data, deciding which language to use and writing their theses. Through an exploration of how international students re-examine their beliefs and research practices during their study in the UK, this book challenges the assumptions of all those engaged in educational research, addressing key questions such as: How do our teaching and learning experiences shape our approach to educational research? How do we judge 'good' educational research? What does it mean to be critical? The book uses the real-life experiences of international students to illuminate the kinds of challenges they may face. It supports both students and their supervisors, showing students how to approach cultural differences, and supervisors how to deal sensitively with the problems encountered by overseas students in their research.

Excerpt

How critical is critical?
Should I write two theses or one? My employer might not like the
kind of thesis my supervisor encourages me to write.
Saying 'I' in my home culture might be seen as being self-centred.

Questions and issues such as these raised by international students in research methods seminars have led me to write this book. As a PhD supervisor and examiner in a uk university, I have become increasingly aware of my underlying assumptions about what makes 'good' educational research through discussions with students who hold differing values and practices. All too often, however, these contrasting perspectives come to the fore only when a student is defending their thesis at a viva, trying to find a response to the examiner who says their work is 'too descriptive' or 'too prescriptive' and 'not critical enough'. As an examiner, I have had to guard against my tendency at that stage to focus on the text, the PhD thesis as the end-product, as opposed to finding other ways of assessing the PhD as a process of learning how to do research. in the context of educational research, it is particularly important to explore how the thesis may be shaped not just by the students' assumptions about the nature of knowledge and research, but also by their own experiences of education. Relationships between the teacher and student before and during a PhD course may influence whether a student feels he or she can 'be critical' and also what 'being critical' might mean in a new cultural context.

Over the past decade, the research student population of many higher education institutions has expanded to include students from a wider range of cultural and educational backgrounds. However, training courses on research methods and many texts on research methodologies are still . . .

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