Our curriculum offers a rigorous, research-based approach to developing intercultural competence and university-level writing skills among both international and domestic undergraduate students. This curriculum meets all of the Introductory Composition at Purdue Course Outcomes while also developing students’ intercultural competence.
The Transculturation in Introductory Composition curriculum is pillared by three pedagogical interventions:
- A linked-course model that pairs mainstream writing classes enrolled by mainly domestic students and L2/multilingual writing classes enrolled by mainly international students.
- A multicultural reader which invites students to explore controversial themes and concepts across different cultural contexts
- A research-based writing assignment sequence that requires a significant amount of collaboration between international and domestic students, prompting in-depth, thoughtful intercultural inquiry
Research-Based Writing Assignment Sequence
Case Study Report: For the first project, we pair one domestic student with one international student. Students conduct secondary research about their peer’s home culture and fieldwork research through peer interviews and peer observations, resulting in a sociocultural profile. This project raises awareness of the potential stereotypes, misconceptions or hasty conclusions about a representative coming from a particular culture or community. Here, we emphasize how research and analysis help to understand a person more comprehensively .
Cultural Inquiry Project: This project requires students to investigate an unfamiliar cultural phenomenon in a culture different from their own. For this project, students further develop their research skills by writing a research proposal, compiling an annotated bibliography, and finally, by reporting their findings in a research report. This project increases students’ cultural sensitivity in evaluating and interpreting cultural phenomena.
Digital Remediation Project: In the final assignment, students remediate their second project, the Cultural Inquiry Project in a digital format using tools such as InDesign or WordPress. For this project, students employ multimodal materials including texts, pictures and photos, graphs and charts, audios and videos. This project develops students’ rhetorical and multimodal literacies to exhibit sensitive content in a different medium for a different audience.
Reflective Writing: Throughout the semester, students complete four reflective journals on course themes and related experiences as well as an end-of-course reflection.
Key to our curriculum is a series of team-taught lessons wherein both linked courses meet together. Our paired instructors come from different cultural backgrounds, thus modeling intercultural collaboration.
Brief Overview of Research Base
Our project draws on the intercultural competence scholarship of M.J. Bennett, J.M. Bennett, and D.K. Deardorff. We align our curriculum and associated research with the Bennett & Bennett Developmental Model of Intercultural Sensitivity (1986; 1993) and with the intercultural competence assessment practices articulated by Deardorff (2006; 2011).
Reflective writing — a critical component of both the pedagogical and research structure of this project — supports the meta-cognition needed for growth in writing skills (Yancey, 1998) as well as development of intercultural competence (Feng, 2016).
Our project is an example of an internationalization-at-home model (Nilsson, 2003) for writing program internationalization. Often, internationalization is the province of study abroad programs or professors who do international work. In contrast, an IaH model integrates the internationalization process into an entire program or university, and leverages diversity already present on campus to improve the intercultural development of the entire community.
Further, our curriculum design follows the principles set forth in the Council of Writing Program Administrator’s Framework for Success in Postsecondary Writing.
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