Seeking to understand 'experiences of difference' in discussions with Saudi students at an Australian university

Midgley, Warren (2010) Seeking to understand 'experiences of difference' in discussions with Saudi students at an Australian university. [Thesis (PhD/Research)]

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This dissertation reports on a study seeking to understand the experiences of ten male students from Saudi Arabia enrolled in a nursing degree at an Australian regional university. It draws on data produced in five discussion groups that were designed to elicit stories from the students about their experiences in Australia. By reflecting upon the broader issues relating to research in this cross-cultural context, the dissertation presents new perspectives for research in applied linguistics, education and cross-cultural studies. It also offers a new approach to the concepts of language, culture and identity, conceptualising them as empty signifiers which point to ‘experiences of difference’ that cannot be neatly categorised as distinct phenomena. This approach also enables an exploration of ethical and methodological issues relating to cross-cultural research.

Three distinct analytical frameworks, developed from the primary and secondary theoretical work associated with M. M. Bakhtin, are employed. The first framework explores key themes in the students’ stories – expectations, differences and struggles – and highlights factors that might be important for enhanced understandings about the experiences of international students in an Australian context. It also indicates the weakness of reductionist approaches to researching the experiences of culturally and linguistically diverse students. The second analytical framework employs the theoretical concepts of authoritative discourse and the superaddressee to explore what the group discussions revealed about ‘experiences of difference’. This approach is presented as an alternative way of exploring the concepts of language, culture and identity. The third analytical framework identifies a number of ethical and methodological issues relating to the research more generally, including the role of serendipity in research, questions of ownership and knowledge rights, and the ethical dilemma of what to do with information that the researcher does not have permission to disclose.

The dissertation explores possible implications of these issues for research in cross-cultural contexts with a view to informing future studies. It concludes that further research using a variety of philosophical and methodological approaches in different contexts is required in order to gain a fuller understanding of the diversity and complexity of international student experiences.

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Item Type: Thesis (PhD/Research)
Item Status: Live Archive
Additional Information: Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) thesis.
Faculty/School / Institute/Centre: Historic - Faculty of Education (Up to 30 Jun 2013)
Faculty/School / Institute/Centre: Historic - Faculty of Education (Up to 30 Jun 2013)
Supervisors: Henderson, Robyn; Danaher, Patrick
Date Deposited: 12 Nov 2010 01:53
Last Modified: 13 Jul 2016 02:00
Uncontrolled Keywords: Saudia Arabia; Saudia Arabian; students; nursing; cross-cultural
Fields of Research (2008): 20 Language, Communication and Culture > 2002 Cultural Studies > 200209 Multicultural, Intercultural and Cross-cultural Studies
13 Education > 1301 Education Systems > 130103 Higher Education
Fields of Research (2020): 47 LANGUAGE, COMMUNICATION AND CULTURE > 4702 Cultural studies > 470212 Multicultural, intercultural and cross-cultural studies
39 EDUCATION > 3903 Education systems > 390303 Higher education

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