… towards a more culturally and ethnically sensitive way of teaching and learning theology
Faculty at TEDS believe that the process of globalizing the content of the course work has begun. However, the pedagogical challenges presented by an ethnically diverse student body deserve specific attention.
Initiatives have been undertaken by faculty in their attempt to address these issues, but common questions have been posed and are still unanswered: How does this internationalization filter down to the practical everyday issues of managing our classrooms, issues such as facilitating group discussions, understanding culturally informed learning styles, and grading of assignments? How can a teacher foster a classroom environment that will really enable the students (domestic and international) to think theologically in a globalizing way? How do we deal with different perspectives on the role of teachers and learners and the relationship between them, on the ownership of knowledge (leading for instance to matters of plagiarism), or on issues of critical thinking?
Answers found in the literature are limited. Research on questions related to international students and multinational classrooms usually address issues such as admission processes, English language skills, adaptation to America and personal counseling of internationals. Valuable tools for teachers to more effectively teach international students exist, but they are usually meant for one-on-one situations, for an interaction between a teacher and an international student, not for an international classroom or learning environment.
In addition, the opportunities introduced by the presence of international students in the learning environment are often not perceived or appreciated. Closer attention should be given, not just to dealing with the problems or challenges international students bring to faculty in American schools, but also to recognizing international students as a valuable resource that will enhance learning in contexts where they participate.
This project seeks to address the pedagogical issues of teaching and learning in international classrooms by providing a series of forums (workshops) for the discussion of these pressing questions, listening to faculty and students, both domestic and international, and allowing them to voice their experiences, anxieties, hopes, and ideas, trying also to take advantage of the current institutional momentum to implement long term changes towards a more culturally and ethnically sensitive way of teaching and learning theology at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School.