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Project Information

Bringing the learning home seeks to enhance Australian students’ international exchange and study abroad experience.

Dr Greg Downey (Anthropology, Macquarie University), Associate Professor Tonia Gray (education, University of Western Sydney; formerly of University of Wollongong) and project leader Associate Professor Jan Gothard (History, Murdoch University) have been awarded a grant of $200,000 by the Australian Learning and Teaching Council (ALTC ) to develop teaching resources designed to enhance the acquisition of intercultural competence amongst students undertaking study abroad/exchange. The grant is managed from Murdoch University.

International student mobility, of which study abroad and exchange are an important part, is an increasingly important element in Australian universities today. Study abroad is recognised as contributing both to important generic graduate qualities such as globally–oriented citizenship, and to campus internationalisation more generally. For these reasons, exchange and other forms of study abroad are also of growing significance as part of government policy. The numbers of students undertaking study abroad through exchange, short-term international placements or study tours is growing. However, concomitant development of support for and resources to enhance appropriate learning outcomes for students participating in these programs has been neglected. Consequently, an educational and learning opportunity of critical significance for both individual students and for universities is not fully realised. The Bringing the Learning Home project sought to enhance the value of the study abroad and exchange experience for Australian students by creating and disseminating learning and teaching materials framed around appropriately structured and conceptualised learning outcomes.

The project focused on the learning opportunities for Australian students inherent in the three different phases in the study abroad and exchange experience, namely pre-departure, in-country and re-entry. The project team also analysed the demographic and cultural profile of Australian students undertaking exchange. The project team sought to generate learning outcomes for the exchange process and to support the attainment of these outcomes. Based on these learning goals, the team produced learning and teaching materials appropriate to Australian students which could be adapted for presentation on all Australian campuses. The team especially sought to integrate student reflection on their learning experiences into refining project goals and producing appropriate teaching and learning materials.

In the words of the International Office director of one Australian University:

I saw skill development and awareness of the cultural insights students were gaining through exchange as of fundamental importance to offering an opportunity of long-term worth and significance to students, and this project puts necessary building blocks in place for students to have such an experience (3 February 2012)