Developing relationality and student belonging: the need for building cosmopolitan engagement in undergraduate communities

Bamford, Jan and Pollard, Lucie (2018) Developing relationality and student belonging: the need for building cosmopolitan engagement in undergraduate communities. London Review of Education, 16 (2). pp. 214-227. ISSN 1474-8460

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Abstract / Description

This paper addresses evidence that developing a sense of belonging for students from different ethnic groups impacts on their engagement. It notes previous findings that in universities habits of coexistence may present barriers to the development of relationships and the sense of student belonging. The paper proposes that cosmopolitan engagement offers a frame for considering the experience of cultural difference in the classroom. It stresses the importance of relationality and communication. The research, involving students undertaking business and science programmes in two culturally similar post-92 London universities, sought to develop a better understanding of how students in London engage with higher education, their learning and with cultural others and the impact on their learning of differing communication patterns. The study finds that students often feel distant from their tutors and afraid to ask for further explanation. Instead, they rely on a circle of friends to provide support and clarification. Students identified the development of agency through engaging with others from different cultures. Engagement in practical collective tasks such as forensic lab work seems to have the potential to encourage communication across cultures, but observation suggested that the students tended to self-segregate. The article concludes that there cannot be a presumption of cosmopolitan engagement. Rather universities need to develop strategies for improving communication between students and staff and between students of different cultural backgrounds.

Item Type: Article
Uncontrolled Keywords: cultural plurality; cosmopolitan engagement; relationality; student belonging; commuter students
Subjects: 300 Social sciences > 370 Education
Department: Guildhall School of Business and Law
Depositing User: Jan Bamford
Date Deposited: 27 Apr 2018 10:30
Last Modified: 11 Sep 2020 16:41


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