Assessing students’ journeys from theory to practice in intercultural education

Whitaker, Teresa and Kenny, Mairín (2016) Assessing students’ journeys from theory to practice in intercultural education. AISHE-J: The All Ireland Journal of Teaching & Learning in Higher Education, 8 (2).


In this discussion paper we examine the development and assessment of a module on intercultural education which we designed, taught and assessed as one module on a master’s programme in a private Higher Education Institution. The programme was initially designed for primary school teachers as formal continuous professional development, however, teachers from other educational settings such as, early childhood, and post-primary also registered for the programme. The module was entitled Intercultural Education and the focus was on how intercultural education promotes social inclusion and eschews discrimination of any kind whether it is based on age, race, gender, religion, disability, sexual orientation, family or marital status, and Traveller status. Policies encourage teachers to be political activists and to challenge discrimination of all kinds. The European Council emphasises the importance of intercultural competence and dialogue, exchange and education in building a common European future based on values and principles, so that human rights and democracy are safeguarded. It further argues that intercultural competence is at the heart of education and can be developed, learned and maintained throughout life. The Intercultural Education Strategy (2010) states that it is imperative that qualified teachers engage in modules on interculturalism through continuous professional development. The assessment for the module was based on a critically reflective 3,000 word essay focusing on a classroom intervention to promote intercultural education and social inclusion. Essays were written on the following topics: race/ethnicity promoting awareness of intercultural guidelines, religion, Travellers, homosexuality, increasing parental involvement, conflict resolution, policy development, racism identity and promoting equal opportunities. This paper will explore three exemplars of classroom based interventions that focused on aspects of ethnicity such as food, religion, language and Travellers. The module and assessment strategy proved to be successful as evidenced by the positive feedback from students and also evidenced by their critically reflective essays.

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