Part of the 4TU.Federation
4TU.
Centre for
Engineering Education

Project introduction and background information

Current and future students will work in a rapidly changing world that differs significantly from the present situation. We do not know exactly which new learning outcomes will be needed, but population growth combined with globalisation and digitalisation makes it clear that a global mind-set and the ability to effectively operate in a multicultural environment will become even more crucial. Student immersion into different cultures within a university might facilitate the development of intercultural competence within “the international classroom”; however, the competencies and support of teaching staff are also essential for optimising this process. This project shows the approach of Wageningen University towards the international classroom and the results of cross-cultural Staff training. 

Objective and expected outcomes

Reflecting on the approach of Wageningen University towards the international classroom, including its student population, policies, and informational resources. This might help other universities to reflect on their approach as well.

Using  the results of cross-cultural Staff training to continuesly improve that training, as offered on the 4TU.CEE event page: https://www.4tu.nl/cee/en/events/

Results and learnings

The MSc and PhD students of Wageningen University come from all over the world. Their course groups are truly multicultural. Most Wageningen University teachers have experience with this environment, and some international classroom training is included in the teacher training programme for the University Teachers Qualification. Wageningen University supports the effective use of the international classroom through its policies, informational resources and actions. Additional requests for further support, including training, were made by Programme Directors. The evaluation of the first six additional training sessions showed that such training is useful, even in an environment with intercultural experienced teachers.

Recommendations

For many students, international classroom training is supplemented with intercultural learning during internships and research performed in other countries and cultures. These experiences might also benefit from teachers provided with additional cross-cultural training, which will help them in their role as long-distance mentors.

The training programme is continuously improved using (post) session communication with participants and the information of the online course evaluation system. This has resulted in more focus on the dynamic of intercultural interdisciplinary groupwork from 2020 onwards. There is a high demand for the sessions at the four universities and the sessions are continuously scheduled a year ahead. This is supplemented with dedicated sessions on request.

Practical outcomes

Paper (at the downloads on the right): "Supporting cross-cultural university education" by Emiel van Puffelen and Marijke van Oppen. 

Continuous improvement of cross-cultural Staff training offered on:  https://www.4tu.nl/cee/events/