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 Supervisors as boundary brokers: Issues and good practice in cross cultural supervision and Supervisors as boundary brokers: Issues and good practice in cross cultural supervision and examination Gina Wisker University of Brighton 1

Background and introduction Context, some assumptions , THE phone interview Culturally inflected doctoral study Background and introduction Context, some assumptions , THE phone interview Culturally inflected doctoral study and supervision Supervisors as boundary brokers Examiners Our research –several projects Case studies, examples, quotations Questions and discussion 2

Global research education context Many of us as supervisors, and examiners, find we are Global research education context Many of us as supervisors, and examiners, find we are engaging with students and knowledge construction practices from different cultural and learning culture backgrounds. Learning and research difference affected by cultural background, choice of topic, modes of approaching research, and co construction of knowledge through the research process. 3

 In these cultural learning inflected contexts, supervisors and examiners act as boundary brokers In these cultural learning inflected contexts, supervisors and examiners act as boundary brokers for the recognition and empowerment (or otherwise) of cultural learning inflected modes of knowledge construction, topics, and thesis /assessment formats. 4

Questions What issues have presented themselves for you as a supervisor, examiner or international/culturally Questions What issues have presented themselves for you as a supervisor, examiner or international/culturally different student( different from host country or dominant culture)? What do you do or could you do to ensure avoidance of cultural imperialism? And enable empowerment and recognition of culturally inflected voice, topic, methodology and methods so that the Ph. D and our practices change? 5

Previous work Action research conducted by Wisker, Robinson Yehudit od-Cohen, Miri Shacham et al Previous work Action research conducted by Wisker, Robinson Yehudit od-Cohen, Miri Shacham et al with a large (Israeli) Ph. D cohort based programme (1997 -2011), Anglia Ruskin University; Cross cultural supervision research by Jennie Jones and Gina Wisker (2008 -2010), Cross cultural supervision and examination research Wisker and Robinson -focus on how cultural capital and the ‘culturally inflected voice’ affect students’ choice of topics, context, research methodologies and methods, and construction of knowledge. (Wisker Robinson Jones 2011, Wisker and Robinson 2010, 2012, 2013, 2015 ) 6

Current presentation re-scrutinising data from previous research projects and pulling these together to explore Current presentation re-scrutinising data from previous research projects and pulling these together to explore the issue of boundary brokers, and enabling. research into tensions and opportunities in the supervision and the examining of culturally inflected doctoral theses. earlier (2013) small scale qualitative research comprising interviews with experienced, culturally diverse supervisors and examiners, exploring ways in which they operate their roles as ‘boundary brokers’ and perceive they take culturally aware approaches to empowering, nurturing, recognising and rewarding the quality of the work of culturally inflected doctoral theses. (or not…) 7

‘A thesis does need to adequately construct knowledge or understanding according to academic conventions, ‘A thesis does need to adequately construct knowledge or understanding according to academic conventions, which vary between disciplines. But a specifically culturally focused thesis may properly (and powerfully) bring in its own cultures, values, metaphors, stories. Some examiners may need to remind themselves of the flexibility and dynamism of academic convention. ’ (E 9) 8

Evidence/data /cases Emerging themes include: Qualities of the research and thesis: importance of selection Evidence/data /cases Emerging themes include: Qualities of the research and thesis: importance of selection of topic, literature-referencing, engagement with theory and methodology, language and expression Cultural information and sensitivity: explicit context, knowledge construction and learning background, impact Supervisor and Examiner awareness of practices which enable and recognise quality and difference represented by culturally inflected research and theses. 9

Culture- context, significance and effect Students from different cultural contexts ( to our own) Culture- context, significance and effect Students from different cultural contexts ( to our own) often • work in culturally inflected ways in terms of research and learning behaviours • choose culturally and contextually inflected areas to work in • intend their research to make changes which are culturally significant • can benefit and makes those changes in own cultural context because of the Ph. D award -in terms of credibility and the right to speak

Some culturally inflected and contextualised topics • • • Women’s empowerment groups in Israel Some culturally inflected and contextualised topics • • • Women’s empowerment groups in Israel Cultural and professional effects of educated Muslim women in Sierra Leone Using emotional intelligence in developing police in Tel Aviv (removal of settlers from West Bank) Influence of belief in Virgin Mary on the identity of immigrated Irish women Arab women pharmacy teachers in Saudi Arabia dealing with knowledge, power, gender and teaching enabling learning. Settling in -experiences of Chinese postgraduate students studying in the UK

Support, enabling, gatekeeping – The Institution’s duty “In spite of identification of special supervisory Support, enabling, gatekeeping – The Institution’s duty “In spite of identification of special supervisory requirements of international postgraduate students and their supervisors, policies and plans identifying the need for, amongst other priorities, development of cross-cultural understanding, recognition and support of cultural identity, there has been very little systematic response at institutional levels. ” ( something I said earlier – hasit changed? )(Wisker, paper delivered to EARLI conference Padua, 2003)

Fundamental issues from the research As supervisors, what can we do to support and Fundamental issues from the research As supervisors, what can we do to support and empower the student’s culturally contextualised voice -focus and topic , -modes of research learning , -achievement, -effectiveness Simultaneous with the academic research practice, process and skills

Fundamental issues How far are learning &teaching and research methods and approaches culture free Fundamental issues How far are learning &teaching and research methods and approaches culture free and just good practice? How far might we be insisting on a Western /masculinist/ positivist/post-positivist or other learning/teaching or research paradigm just from familiarity? Is this insistence a form of cultural imperialism? Or an enabling strategy for students to learn about diversity and flexibility of approaches and conceptualisation, presentation etc? why does it matter?

Fundamental issues • • Some cultures consider knowledge is shared- individual Ph. D? Some Fundamental issues • • Some cultures consider knowledge is shared- individual Ph. D? Some cultures consider it insulting to argue with elders/authorities -which affects critical debate (myth of the Asian learner, approval for ‘indoctrination’ in Saudi Arabia ) Some students might not easily gain access to their population or ‘truths’ because of differences in culture, status, insider/outsider Language facility –tertiary literacy - might hamper critical thinking and expression skills

Cross cultural supervision research and student voices ( across 3 projects) 1 Israeli Ph. Cross cultural supervision research and student voices ( across 3 projects) 1 Israeli Ph. D students 1997 -2009 (Anglia Ruskin University Gina Wisker, Yehudit od-Cohen, Gill Robinson et al) 2 Cross cultural supervision research 2008 -2010 (CLT University of Brighton, ARU, Jennie Jones and Gina Wisker ) 3 Cross cultural supervision and examination research, (Wisker and Robinson, 2013 -5)

Concerns informing and from the research Support, induction, orientation, and training Cultural discrimination and Concerns informing and from the research Support, induction, orientation, and training Cultural discrimination and lack of respect for other cultures cultural empathy cultural awareness Inability to hear the student’s voice Communication difficulties Misunderstandings Difficulty in adjusting or changing practice to meet the varied needs of International/culturally diverse postgraduates Examiner inflexibility (real or imagined)

Research has revealed- Parts played in any difficulties or success of Personal – self Research has revealed- Parts played in any difficulties or success of Personal – self image, emotional wellbeing, confidence, friends and family Learning – culturally inflected learning teaching and research differences, learning development, working conceptually, in own voice, on a doable and effective project Institutional – expectations, information, rules, -clashes eg plagiarism, visa timed out , -support, tertiary literacy, supervision, advocacy and clarification

 Please consider what the data from these interviews and the case studies suggest Please consider what the data from these interviews and the case studies suggest about what works and what could be developed in our supervisory and examining work with culturally diverse/international postgraduates- enabling the culturally inflected voice.

 • • Supervisors speak “I think some international students find the need to • • Supervisors speak “I think some international students find the need to work and study independently very hard, because there is a very wide spectrum of what people expect from a Ph. D in the UK. That is very hard for people who come from a culture where everything is documented. ” (Interview 10) ‘The use of specific terminology posses two challenges. The first is of introducing the candidates to a whole new range of terms and concepts that they have never encountered and the second is of transmitting the meaning of such terms from one culture to another. ‘(Interview 6) “ She found it difficult to be critical and to do critical analysis and would take things very much at first glance. She had very fixed notions, which were impossible for us to change. ” (Interview 1)

Students speak - (personal) ‘From discussions with doctorate level students in X I anticipated Students speak - (personal) ‘From discussions with doctorate level students in X I anticipated that I would be asked to do a bit of research that interested my advisor; this in addition to course requirements ‘ ‘the approach which places responsibility on the doctoral candidate to be an expert in his field appealed to me. This, coupled with the detailed and graded materials dealing with research and methodology suited me personally. ‘

(personal) ‘The …. . relationship between supervisor and candidate. . . foremost in my (personal) ‘The …. . relationship between supervisor and candidate. . . foremost in my mind is the level of trust that should exist between them. In my opinion this is one of the most important issues that a supervisor can attend to. It is relevant in general but more so in the case when the supervisor and candidate operate in different cultures. ‘ ‘In my experience, cross-cultural interaction when done with care and commitment can be an immensely enriching experience for all participants. I can attest from my own personal experience that I fully enjoyed this interaction with my supervisor and her colleagues. ‘

(academic) ‘there also the cultural differences where approaches and expectations are different from the (academic) ‘there also the cultural differences where approaches and expectations are different from the two sides. I remember some comments made by my cohorts such as “the English want it done this way, or they do not understand this issue like we do”. ‘ ‘it is my impression that the way to surmount these crosscultural difficulties is by a fully engaged dialogue which is fluid and continuous all along the duration of the process. ‘

Some considerations Find out how and if cultural diversity is likely to affect ◦ Some considerations Find out how and if cultural diversity is likely to affect ◦ ◦ ◦ ◦ choice of area of research, ways of constructing knowledge, approaches to research, access to population, ways of articulating ideas & arguments, engagement with the literature, ways of writing up, presenting and defending the findings & thesis

Some effective practices increased awareness of, adjustment to and where appropriate foregrounding of culturally Some effective practices increased awareness of, adjustment to and where appropriate foregrounding of culturally different contexts, learning styles, expectations and behaviours acceptance of and support for different learning approaches and research modes where this is appropriate need to ensure that students have appropriate access to tertiary literacy support -for writing, and examination

Clarity, focus, quality, supporting students to prepare their work for success- supervisor comments 26 Clarity, focus, quality, supporting students to prepare their work for success- supervisor comments 26

Qualities of thesis The need for a robust, appropriate, defensible topic – so that Qualities of thesis The need for a robust, appropriate, defensible topic – so that the cultural inflection is not the only reason for the work. ‘Be careful of the topic. I have supervised an Indonesian student who wanted to do a comparison of some Indonesian and Australian Aboriginal writers, in relation to motherhood. It turned out to be hard to explain why’. (E 3) 27

‘ ‘Local traditions will determine the role of theory in research at the doctoral ‘ ‘Local traditions will determine the role of theory in research at the doctoral level. ’(E 1) ‘ Where students are breaking new bounds with the use of culturally inflected, decolonised, indigenous etc research methodologies and knowledge construction, making this implicit in the text as one would expect the culturally contextualised topic and background information to be explicit, will be useful. ’ (E 3) 28

Cultural information and sensitivity Make cultural context explicit ‘Educational practices in any country are Cultural information and sensitivity Make cultural context explicit ‘Educational practices in any country are influenced by the cultural and philosophical traditions that prevail there. Understanding these influences – or at least being familiar with the central values and practices – is essential, since this opens understanding of how candidates approach and undertake their research. ’ (E 5) ‘the student’s own educational, personal and social context …. the topic itself could have important implications (especially in terms of gender, ethnic, political and religious sensitivities …the subject/disciplinary context may be differently perceived amongst different cultures…. the institutional context. ’ (E 7) 29

Critical awareness of the western and often northern cultural context of knowledge construction and Critical awareness of the western and often northern cultural context of knowledge construction and interpretation was seen as important so that students can situate their own learning within or against it. This relates closely to current debates about different worldviews and decolonising methodologies: ‘Explaining inductive or deductive paradigms of knowledge construction will be apparent in a country’s philosophical traditions though it may not always be explicit’ (E 5), and ‘The major problem here relates to what is meant by knowledge and truth in different cultures. ’(E 7) 30

Examiners as boundary brokers 31 Examiners as boundary brokers 31

Examiners and supervisors commented on The need for examiners to ‘Be open to a Examiners and supervisors commented on The need for examiners to ‘Be open to a topic that might not seem important to you but might be to someone else from a different culture’ (E 2) building on some (not necessarily expert) acquired culturally inflected ‘insider’ knowledge. ‘Examiners sometimes lack confidence in their ability to examine this aspect of the material with the same rigour that they bring to more familiar material’ (E 4). 32

Culturally inflected approaches should be made explicit: ‘I tend to be asked to examine Culturally inflected approaches should be made explicit: ‘I tend to be asked to examine dissertations that are “less traditional” in structure and in methodological approach. In these circumstances, I find it interesting to talk with the candidate about how this particular approach will be regarded in their own, local context that may privilege rather more traditional approaches. ’ (E 9) 33

Literature referencing Examiners felt that whatever the topic, literature needed to be global, from Literature referencing Examiners felt that whatever the topic, literature needed to be global, from a variety of contexts, neither just from the general area in which the student was living, working, or had originated, nor just from the UK, US or Australia. Students’ specialist knowledge of literature from their own cultural context should be valued alongside international reading. 34

Engagement with theory and methodology Examiners were aware of deference to authorities in some Engagement with theory and methodology Examiners were aware of deference to authorities in some cultures, the more didactic modes of teaching which affected students’ comfort and facility with theorising and arguing, disciplinary differences and local norms. However, they were clear that there should be well cited and referenced, theorised work in a dialogue with the student’s own. Some mentioned culturally inflected theorising and methodologies: 35

 Examiners need to know about the- ‘Effect of culture on contextual factors – Examiners need to know about the- ‘Effect of culture on contextual factors – response to situations, policy etc. needs to be considered and understood. ’ (E 3) and: ‘My expectation that the examinee will provide some of that detail for the examiner. ’ (E 3) 36

 Different academic traditions will often privilege different kinds of theory. The examiner, while Different academic traditions will often privilege different kinds of theory. The examiner, while taking note of the relevant canon of theoretical perspectives, may nonetheless be ready to acknowledge approaches which may lie outside his/her experience. ’ (E l) 37

Examiner awareness Examiners were aware of: the potential impact of research from culturally inflected Examiner awareness Examiners were aware of: the potential impact of research from culturally inflected topics and stressed international standards, global as well as local effects: ‘Are there other cultural groups who will welcome this author’s theory, methodology and findings? That makes the work valuable? ‘(E 2) the need to value the culturally inflected, move beyond the merely local : ‘pointing to the potential global or local impact of a piece of research is desirable as long as it is done in a measured and well-justified way. ’ (E 7) consideration of local impact when the work is disseminated in the student’s own language : ‘The work of Chinese writers can have a large impact, especially if published in Chinese. ’ (E 3) ‘positionality’, where the work could be influential if positioned appropriately, and presented to the right people in the right contexts. 38

cultural difference-examiner comments- Ph. D examiner comments on an Aboriginal storyworking Ph. D thesis cultural difference-examiner comments- Ph. D examiner comments on an Aboriginal storyworking Ph. D thesis ‘This thesis offers a thoughtful, reflective and well-argued case for indigenous storyworking as a methodology. As such then it represents a bridge between the forms and expectations of more conventional thesis shape and argument, use of theory and evidence and development in chapters, and a piece of storywork itself, as the author uses autoethnography, identifies as a mythographer, and embeds various other forms of development and response in different sections. The reflective story elements tend to be laid out in italics and interwoven with the more theorised defence and the history of the development of the right to speak and write in this form. The ‘artefacts’ are more conventional in many ways, essays exploring themes such as mothering, gods and thinkers movement and flight so that the establishment of a right to speak in different ways and assert the link between identity and storyworking, identity and different formal modes of speaking is central to thesis as a whole. ‘ 39

Creative work and Cultural difference Indigenous knowledge, professional and creative practice -Aboriginal example One Creative work and Cultural difference Indigenous knowledge, professional and creative practice -Aboriginal example One Ph. D candidate wished to explore issues to do with relationships to the land. She found that using traditional artistic expression coupled with community and family supervision and support and a conventional enough Ph. D shape enabled this research, theorising, engagement and expression. Her work was culturally inflected in terms of topic, methodology and methods, and form of ‘writing up’. How could/would you examine such work ? 40

Student producing culturally inflected creative work‘…. that’s all good but how am I going Student producing culturally inflected creative work‘…. that’s all good but how am I going to pull that together and she said that’s for you to decide. You have to find the right words to recapture the indigenous thinking so I thought metaphors, analogies and those sort of things and in the end I stuck with the metaphors because that seemed to fit the stories for each side. So we had people who are responsible for looking after those places. So there’s a whole set of aborigine society rules and protocols and I though this is really interesting because I don’t think any indigenous people have done their Ph. Ds thinking about all of those things before and choosing them and that’s when I started doing the paintings, and I said to my mum about the time my auntie used to paint all the artefacts and do the weavings and stuff. She said alright then I’ll let you do that. So then I started painting on canvas for the first time in 2001 when I did them. So that depicts what we call here the wet season and that’s looking for the south west when I was painting that day and I was standing at a particular place. ’ 41

That was a part of the process for me to understand how I position That was a part of the process for me to understand how I position myself within the Ph. D. And that the Ph. D wasn’t just going to be an artefact of western academia it was part of our aboriginal life. So when I was asked the question once is it just another academic artefact I said no its not because my mum sung this thesis with the paintings that I did and my daughters danced to it while I painted bits in between and now its become a pathway for my family, particularly my daughters to be able to integrate successfully. So they understand what the ceremony is and what it means to belong to the country and how to engage with people In the country and extended families through the ceremonies and what it means to come into a university environment. ‘ 42

The dry 43 The dry 43

Conclusion ‘A thesis does need to adequately construct knowledge or understanding according to academic Conclusion ‘A thesis does need to adequately construct knowledge or understanding according to academic conventions, which vary between disciplines. But a specifically culturally focused thesis may properly (and powerfully) bring in its own cultures, values, metaphors, stories. Some examiners may need to remind themselves of the flexibility and dynamism of academic convention. ’ (E 9) Supervisor and Examiner awareness, appreciation and recognition for culturally inflected topics, research methodologies, expression and forms of knowledge construction can produce a ‘field of power’, an enabling space of recognition and mutual benefit where ‘mutual exclusion' often operates, (Bourdieu 1996, p. 232). With insight and enabling practices we could see ‘flow’ between different culturally inflected research populations influencing widespread change. Global cultural flows (Appadurai 1996, p. 27) can facilitate recognition of silenced voices of indigenous, international and immigrated researchers and their topics, expressions, methodology and methods. 44

Discussion Please share any of your own instances of experiencing: cross cultural supervising, (as Discussion Please share any of your own instances of experiencing: cross cultural supervising, (as student or supervisor) cross cultural examining effective practices to recognise, enable and empower doctoral students’ achievement through supervision, and examining practices in cross cultural contexts (which you have experienced or heard of). 45

Case studies for discussion-what should you take into account? what should you do? 1. Case studies for discussion-what should you take into account? what should you do? 1. 2. 3. A student (from another culture to your own/the predominant culture in the university ) presents with a research area ’ why girls fail in school’ which you feel has a few flaws-( pre-empting a negative result, in the UK/US/Australia girls tend to achieve well in school. . . )but she insists that in Kurdistan this is highly topical. An international student has grand transformational aims for their research and insists that an accumulative approach( questionnaires)was fine for their masters and is absolutely normal ‘back home’ but you are a little concerned about potential dissonance. The culturally inflected knowledge construction background of the student whose thesis you are examining is largely oral and or visual. The thesis comprises a DVD, images, and about 10, 000 words of largely descriptive text. 46