Immigrant Students’ Experiences of Higher Education in Iceland: Why Does Culturally Responsive Teaching Matter?
Keywords:immigrants, higher education, multicultural education, culturally responsive teaching, qualitative research
The paper is based on the first, extensive, qualitative study on immigrant students’ experiences of university education in Iceland. The theoretical framework is based on culturally responsive teaching that derives from multicultural education theory which focuses on analysing the position of minority groups, including immigrants in societies with special attention to their access to education. According to the theory, culturally responsive teaching methods and balanced workload based on the students’ language abilities, previous experiences and background have positive effects on the immigrant students’ well-being and generally contribute to their sense of belonging in the universities (e.g. Gay, 2018; Nieto, 2010). The participants of the study are 41 immigrant university students who participated in focus group and individual interviews. The findings show that despite the fact that culturally responsive teaching as an established teaching method is still an uncommon phenomenon in Icelandic universities, the students’ experiences are highly positive, even when culturally responsive teaching is applied unsystematically by some teachers. Furthermore, the findings reveal that the students especially valued an atmosphere of care, trust and power-sharing in the classroom. The study makes a significant contribution to understanding immigrant students’ experiences of the education process in Icelandic universities that currently emphasise the importance of multicultural education and pay special attention to providing equal rights to education to everyone regardless of their origin. Furthermore, the study is relevant from a comparative perspective and contributes to the general discussion about immigrant students in higher education in Europe.
Alex, J. L., Miller, E. A., Platt, R. E., Rachal, J. R., & Gammill, D. M. (2007). Making the invisible visible: A model for delivery systems in adult education. Journal of Adult Education, 36(2), 13-22. Retrieved from http://files.eric.ed.gov/fulltext/EJ891066.pdf
Ashwin, P., Boud, D., Coate, K., Hallett, F., Krause, K.-L., Leibowitz, B., Keane, E. (2015). Reflective teaching in higher education. New York: Bloomsbury Academic.
Banks, J. A., & Banks, C. A. M. (2015). Multicultural education: Issues and perspectives (9th Ed.). Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons.
Boesch, B. (2014). The importance of the professor in college classroom climate for immigrant students. College Quarterly, 17(4). Retrieved from https://eric.ed.gov/?id=EJ1058110
Books, S., Ragnarsdóttir, H., Jónsson, Ó. P., & Macdonald, A. (2011). A university program with “the whole world as a focus”: An Icelandic response to globalization. Innovative Higher Education, 36(2), 125-139. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10755-010-9163-77
Braun, V., & Clarke, V. (2013). Successful qualitative research. London: Sage.
Brinkmann, S., & Kvale, S. (2015). InterViews: Learning the craft of qualitative research interviewing (2. Ed.). Thousand Oaks: Sage.
Burner, T., Nodeland, T. S., & Aamaas, Å. (2018). Critical perspectives on perceptions and practices of diversity in education. Nordic Journal of Comparative and International Education (NJCIE), 2(1), 3-15. https://doi.org/10.7577/njcie.2188
Carusetta, E., & Cranton, P. (2009). Learning to teach: An illustrative case from the Canadian community college system. New directions for adult and continuing education (124), 73-81. https://doi.org/10.1002/ace.354
Creswell, J. W. (2008). Educational research: Planning, conducting, and evaluating quantitative and qualitative research. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson.
De Vita, G. (2005). Fostering intercultural learning through multicultural group work. In J. Carroll & J. Ryan (Eds.), Teaching international students: Improving learning for all (pp. 75-83). New York: Routledge.
Engstrom, C., & Tinto, V. (2008). Access without support is not opportunity. Change: The magazine of higher learning, 40(1), pp. 46-50. https://doi.org/10.3200/CHNG.40.1.46-50
European Commission/EACEA/Eurydice. (2015). The European Higher Education Area in 2015: Bologna Process Implementation Report. Luxembourg: Publications Office of the European Union.
Flick, U. (2009). An introduction to qualitative research (4th Ed.). London: Sage.
Fylkesnes, S., Mausethagen, S., & Nilsen, A. B. (2018). The double meaning making of the term cultural diversity in teacher educator discourses. Nordic Journal of Comparative and International Education (NJCIE), 2(1), 16-38. https://doi.org/10.7577/njcie.2284
Gaebel, M., & Zhang, T. (2018). Trends 2018: Learning and teaching in the European Higher Education Area. Retrieved from https://eua.eu/resources/publications/757:trends-2018-learning-and-teaching-in-the-european-higher-education-area.html
Gay, G. (2018). Culturally responsive teaching: Theory, research, and practice (3rd Ed.). New York: Teachers College Press.
Gay, G. (2001). Preparing for culturally responsive teaching. Journal of Teacher Education, 53(2), 106-116. https://doi.org/10.1177/00224871020530020033
Hassanien, A. (2006). Student experience of group work and group assessment in higher education. Journal of teaching in travel & tourism, 6(1), 17-39. https://doi.org/10.1300/J172v06n01_02
Hill, L. H. (2014). Graduate students’ perspectives on effective teaching. Adult learning, 25(2), 57-65. https://doi.org/10.1177/1045159514522433
Karge, B. D., Phillips, K. M., Jessee, T., & McCabe, M. (2011). Effective strategies for engaging adult learners. Journal of College Teaching & Learning, 8(12), 53-56. https://doi.org/10.19030/tlc.v8i12.6621
Ladson-Billings, G. (1995). Toward a theory of culturally relevant pedagogy. American Educational Research Journal, 32(3), 465-491. https://doi.org/10.3102/00028312032003465
Ladson-Billings, G. (2014). Culturally relevant pedagogy 2.0: aka the remix. Harvard Educational Review, 84(1), 74-84. https://doi.org/10.17763/haer.84.1.p2rj131485484751
Lichtman, M. (2013). Qualitative Research in Education (3rd Ed.). Thousand Oaks, California: SAGE Publications.
Nieto, S. (2010). The light in their eyes: Creating multicultural learning communities. New York: Teachers College Press.
Nodelman, D. J. (2013). Culturally responsive methodology within an aesthetic framework. In M. Berryman, S. Soohoo, & A. Nevin (Eds.), Culturally responsive methodologies (pp. 149-173). Bingley: Emerald group.
Parekh, B. (2005). Rethinking multiculturalism: Cultural diversity and political theory. New York: Palgrave Macmillan.
Popov, V., Brinkman, D., Biemans, H. J. A., Mulder, M., Kuznetsov, A., & Noroozi, O. (2012). Multicultural student group work in higher education: An explorative case study on challenges as perceived by students. International Journal of Intercultural Relations, 36(2), 302-317. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ijintrel.2011.09.004
Ragnarsdóttir, H., & Blöndal, H. (2007). Háskólastigið í ljósi hnattvæðingar: Rannsókn á stöðu og reynslu erlendra nemenda við Kennaraháskóla Íslands [University education in light of globalisation: Research on the position and experiences of immigrant students at the Iceland University of Education]. Uppeldi og menntun [Icelandic Journal of Education], 16(2), 161-182. Retrieved from http://timarit.is/view_page_init.jsp?pageId=5209297
Ragnarsdóttir, H., & Blöndal, H. (2014). Fjölmenningarlegt námssamfélag: Reynsla nem- enda af alþjóðlegu námi í menntunarfræði við Háskóla Íslands [Multicultural learning community: The experiences of students in the International Studies in Education programme at the University of Iceland]. Uppeldi og menntun [Icelandic Journal of Education], 23(1), 27-45. Retrieved from http://timarit.is/view_page_init.jsp?pageId=6009450
Rubenson, K. (2011). Adult learning and education. Oxford: Academic Press.
Sandelowski, M. (1994). Notes on qualitative methods: The use of quotes in qualitative research. Research in Nursing & Health, 17, 479–482. https://doi.org/10.1002/nur.4770170611
Slee, J. (2010). A systemic approach to culturally responsive assessment practices and evaluation. Higher Education Quarterly, 64(3), 246-260. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1468-2273.2010.00464.x
Statistics Iceland. (2016). Immigrants and persons with foreign background 2016. Retrieved from http://statice.is/publications/news-archive/population/immigrants-and-persons-with-foreign-background-2016/
Statistics Iceland. (2018). Fjöldi nýnema á háskólastigi hefur tvöfaldast á tuttugu árum [Number of new university students doubled during past twenty years]. Retrieved from https://hagstofa.is/utgafur/frettasafn/menntun/nynemar-i-haskolum-2010-2017/
Stjórnarskrá lýðveldisins Íslands [Constitution of the Republic of Iceland]. (1944). Retrieved from https://www.althingi.is/lagas/nuna/1944033.html
Swaminathan, R., & Alfred, M. (2001). Strangers in the mirror: Immigrant students in the higher education classroom. Adult learning, 13(1), 29-32. https://doi.org/10.1177/104515950101200408
Vella, J. (2002). Learning to listen, learning to teach: The power of dialogue in teaching adults. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.
Villegas, A. M., & Lucas, T. (2002). Preparing culturally responsive teachers rethinking the curriculum. Journal of Teacher Education, 53(1), 20-32. https://doi.org/10.1177/0022487102053001003
How to Cite
Copyright (c) 2019 Artem Ingmar Benediktsson, Anna Katarzyna Wozniczka, Anh Dao Katrin Tran, Hanna Ragnarsdottir
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.
Declaration on copyright
- The author/s will keep their copyright and right of reproduction of their own manuscript, with the work simultaneously licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution License, but give the journal a permanent right to 1) present the manuscript to the public in the original form in which it was digitally published and 2) to be registered and cited as the first publication of the manuscript.
- The author itself must manage its financial reproduction rights in relation to any third-parties.
- The journal does not provide any financial or other remuneration for contributions submitted.
- Readers of the journal may print the manuscripts presented under the same conditions that apply to reproduction of a physical copy. This means that mass reproduction of physical copies or production of copies for commercial purposes is not permitted without the agreement of the author/s.