14.10. Internationalise or step aside? A case study of meaning making in international competence and intercultural learning in the spaces of encounter limited by the pedagogical relationship between the learner, the teacher and the educational actor

Public examination of a doctoral dissertation in the field of education
Doctoral candidate: Liisa Timonen, M.Soc.Sc.
Date and venue: Friday, 14 Oct at 12 noon in Educa E100, Joensuu Campus.
Language of the dissertation and public examination: Finnish

In my case study I search, analyse and interpret meanings of international competence and intercultural learning within the North Karelia University of Applied Sciences. Within my study I am both a researcher and a teacher as I am investigating my own working community. I am a reflective practitioner who enlightens her own professional praxis (Schön 1990). I am searching understanding within the context of the pedagogical relationship, which defines the roles and places of the different actors – teacher, learner and other members– of the community. I travel in the terrain of constructive and critical paradigms. During my researcher’s trip in the world of meanings I rely on the phenomenological tradition, which shows me the way to seek for the relational truth (Heidegger 2007). While interpreting meanings I rely on the hermeneutical tradition, which enables me the process of constructing the experienced reality (Gadamer 1975).

My pedagogical thinking is guided by the principle of human teachership, which aims to support learner’s transformative learning and growing as an autonomous learner and actor (Holec 1981; Little 2004; Mezirow 2000). The key concepts are autonomy, authentic learning and dialogue (e g. Kohonen 2009b; Jaatinen 2007). My understanding of intercultural education relies on the principles of equal encountering of the other and the aim of supporting learner’s own identity and educating her to the direction of multicultural identity (e.g. Kaikkonen 2001). As a teacher I work towards the principles using experiential learning and try to offer the learner a possibility to learn through drama. The aim of intercultural education is an active, critically thinking and multiculturally aware learner, who is able to make her own choices in the diverse world (e.g. Nieto & Bode 2008).

I have implemented my case study in three different steps. First, I have mapped, then described and finally understood the world of meanings. All the phases have somewhat different aims and methods. Within the mapping phase I tried to understand of the concept of international competence as it was seen by the educational key actors, working life partners and international key partners. I found four different discursive perspectives to define the concept. However, international competence seemed somehow different every time depending on the discursive perspective and thus needed to be re-defined again and again. During the descriptive phase I was looking forward to the teacher’s pedagogical knowing (Husu 2002), which guides me when I am supporting learner’s intercultural learning. I noticed that I rely on rational and situational knowing as well as moral discussion and vary the angle of knowledge related to situational demands. A responsible teacher also needs to step out from the classroom and participate in the shared discussion to actively support the growth of understanding. During the third phase I looked to the learner’s own life world and studied the learner’s meaning making of international competence and intercultural learning. I realised that the learner’s interest, autonomy and motivation vary. I found four different groups of learners, which all set me different kinds of challenges as teacher. As a summary of the results I discuss the problems of seeking for the joint understanding as a demanding and probably never ending process.

The public examination of M. Soc. Sc. Liisa Timonen’s doctoral dissertation entitled "Internationalise or step aside? A case study of meaning making in international competence and intercultural learning in the spaces of encounter limited by the pedagogical relationship between the learner, the teacher and the educational actor" will take place in the Philosophical Faculty at the University of Eastern Finland. The field of the dissertation is Education.

Professor Pentti Moilanen (University of Jyväskylä) and Professor Pauli Kaikkonen (University of Tampere) will act as the opponents and Professor Ritva Kantelinen (University of Eastern Finland) will act as the custos in the public examination.


Publishing year: 2011

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