Transcultural competence: Exploring postgraduate student and staff perceptions across disciplines at one UK university

Katie Dunworth, Trevor Grimshaw, Janina Iwaniec, James Mckinley

Research output: Contribution to conferenceAbstractpeer-review


This paper reports on the preliminary findings from a project that investigated the extent to which intercultural/transcultural competence is enhanced or inhibited through current teaching and learning practices across postgraduate taught programmes in four distinct teaching disciplines at one university in the UK. The project also sought to examine how student and tutor perceptions of intercultural/transcultural competence compare, and identify any tensions and issues between staff and student understandings with a view to improving teaching and learning processes and outcomes.
The project was guided by an overarching view of transcultural/intercultural competence as a dynamic and contextually fluid process that involves respect for the values of different cultural groups. However, it was expected that through the data a conceptual model of transcultural/intercultural competence within the context of the university in question would emerge over the course of the analysis of the data.
The project was exploratory-interpretive in nature and followed a multiple-case design. Seven postgraduate programmes from the institution’s four teaching faculties were analysed, using data obtained from staff and students within each programme. Specifically, data collection involved focus groups with students from each programme and a background interview and a stimulated recall interview with the lecturers using audio-visual recordings from one observed class as a stimulus. Data analysis was inductive and at the time of writing is ongoing, using procedures of codification, thematic analysis and categorisation and include both within-case and cross-case analysis. The preliminary findings indicate that cultures are seen as multiple and intersecting by both staff and students, and relate to discipline, nationality, level of degree and the educational institution; while competence is viewed by students and staff as deriving from social, psychological, academic and linguistic capabilities and are in flux within the rapidly changing globalised higher education environment. The paper will discuss the implications of the results for teaching and learning at the institution where the study took place.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusAcceptance date - 31 Jan 2017
Eventi-mean 5 Conference - Bristol
Duration: 6 Apr 20178 Apr 2017


Conferencei-mean 5 Conference


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