Culturally Diverse Students in Higher Education: Challenges and Possibilities within Academic Literacy Practices
With growing diversity in the population, higher education faces a new situation with increasing student diversity. In our paper, we will explore questions concerning the consequences student diversity has for higher-education institutions. Based on our experience from three different R&D projects, the differences in culture and academic literacy practices give culturally diverse students challenges that have often been ignored in academia. Some other studies also document that this group of students has a much higher risk of dropping out and underachieving than majority students (Andersen & Skaarer- Kreutz, 2007; Støren, 2009). In our paper, we are going to discuss the students’ challenges and discourse of remediation that is often associated with their challenges and suggest how higher-education institutions can adjust their practices to be more oriented to intercultural communication. Intercultural communication as a dialogic approach may create dynamics in academic tutoring and lead to mutual change/transformation instead of a one-way adaptation of existing academic literacy norms. We argue that all teachers should be aware of cultural differences in literacy practices in the education systems and strive to adjust their teaching practices to the diversity in the classroom. This approach, we believe, can contribute to a better learning environment for all students, independently of their backgrounds.