The Centre for Academic Development along with the Business School and the School of Medicine, Medical Sciences and Nutrition organised three mini online sessions on 'Supporting Learning for Students from Diverse Ethnic, Cultural and Educational Backgrounds,' to support University teaching staff. The organisers were Dr Jennifer Duthie (Centre for Academic Development), Dr Amudha Poobalan (School of Medicine, Medical Sciences and Nutrition), Dr Cheryl Dowie (Business School) and Dr Mark Whittington(Business School).
The first session took place on the 10th of August and was introduced by Prof Siladitya Bhattacharya (Head of the Medical School). Students from the Business School, the School of Medicine, Medical Sciences and Nutrition, and AUSA (Aberdeen University Students’ Association) shared their studying and learning experiences in Scotland. Through interviewing one another informally, they discussed some of the challenges they faced when adapting to a new education system and learning culture that was different to their own cultural learning scripts.
The second session on the 13th of August was introduced by Prof Abbe Brown (Dean for Student Support), and involved staff from the Business School and the School of Medicine, Medical Sciences and Nutrition presenting their own experiences of learning, working and teaching in new countries and cultures. The presenters were Dr Yanghong Hu (Business School), Dr Shamima Haque (Business school), Dr Mark Whittington (Business School) and Dr Amudha Poobalan (School of Medicine, Medical Sciences and Nutrition) who also shared some of the challenges encountered in supporting students from diverse, ethnic, cultural and educational backgrounds.
The third session on the 14th of August was again introduced by Prof Abbe Brown and involved staff sharing good, inclusive and supportive working/teaching practices. The presenters in this session were Dr Isla Callander (School of Law), Dr Cheryl Dowie (Business School), Dr Asha Venkatesh (School of Medicine, Medical Sciences and Nutrition) and Dr Amudha Poobalan (School of Medicine, Medical Sciences and Nutrition). Topics covered in this session were taking an educative approach to plagiarism, discussion on strategies to encourage student diversity within groups, discussion on support schemes through mentorship for PGT students, reviewing curriculum and implications for blended learning. Dr Jennifer Duthie (CAD) chaired the last two sessions.
All three sessions ran smoothly from beginning to end and both the participants and attendees engaged in insightful and informative discussion through Q&As and online chats. Session recordings have been made available for those who missed the sessions. The overall feedback from these sessions was very positive. Further sessions are being considered, with the aim of building more resources and opportunities to support teaching staff in the development of their cultural awareness.