Flying In and Out: Research into Off-shore Teaching in Higher Education
In recent years, the globalisation of university operations has included, amongst others, the provision of off-shore degree programs by lecturing staff based at the respective universities' home countries (Bodycott and Walker, 2000; Dunn and Wallace, 2003). The cultural differences involved in such professional practice can be unique in nature. On the one hand, it is different from teaching a group of international students in the home country, as a lecturer now finds her/himself a minority in a foreign culture. There is likely a greater pressure for the visiting lecturer to respond to the particular culture in which he/she practices (Bodycott and Walker, 2000). On the other hand, how a visiting lecturer prepares for this experience and is supported by appropriate infrastructure may impact on the pressures placed on the lecturer in terms of how one approaches working in a different culture.
Current academic knowledge about the resolution of culture shock by expatriates (e.g. Hofstede, 1997) is not likely to be useful for any of these lecturers as the stay is often too short for acculturation (Hofstede, 2001) to take effect. Nevertheless, while the commercial / business sector has an established history of researching and supporting the cultural socialisation of expatriate executives (e.g. Edwards and Edwards, 2001), the relative recent phenomenon and unique characteristics of off-shore lecturing has meant a dearth of research studies and academic knowledge relating to teachers' sense-making of difference in their off-shore sites of practice (Bodycott and Walker, 2000). The conceptualisation of this proposed study arose from this observation.
Keywords: Culture and Dissonance, Higher Education, Teaching and Learning, Off-shore Education
Dr Julie Edwards
Senior Lecturer, Social Sciences, Education, Monash University
Dr Wee Tiong Seah
Lecturer, Education, Monash University