TEACHING AT UOW
               Anne Melano, Maureen Bell and Ruth Walker

                         ACADEMIC SERVICES DIVISION
This booklet draws on rich experiences of University
of Wollongong (UOW) staff who have taught,
administered and/or coordinated subjects and
courses across international teaching sites. We thank
and acknowledge their generosity in sharing their
valuable insights and expertise:
UOW Executive – Rob Castle, Joe Chicharo
Faculty of Arts – Chris Barker, Guy Davidson, Philip
Kitley, Mark McLelland, David Marshall, Brian Yecies
Faculty of Commerce – Peter McLean, Gary Noble,
Karin Wells
Faculty of Education – Peter Kell
Faculty of Health & Behavioural Sciences – Angela
Brown, Janette Curtis, Bill Janes, Joanne Joyce-
McCoach, Moira Williamson
Faculty of Informatics – Gene Awyzio, Penney
McFarlane, Katina Michael, Anji Phillips, Ian Piper,
Willy Susilo
Faculty of Law – Mark Loves, Judith Marychurch
Transnational Education & Alliances Unit – Bill
Damachis, Amanda Warren
Faculty International Support Unit – Robyn Phillips
Learning Development – Meeta Chatterjee, Kim
Draisma, Bronwyn James, Paul Moore, Alisa Percy
CEDIR – Ric Caladine, Gerry Lefoe

Published by the Centre for Educational Development,
Innovation and Recognition 2012

University of Wollongong
Northfields Avenue
Wollongong NSW 2522

2                                                       University of Wollongong

BACKGROUND                                               DURING THE TEACHING SESSION

How to use this booklet                             4    How does culture affect classroom interaction?     29

Introduction                                         5   How does culture affect student engagement with
                                                         assessment?                                     32
Modes of transnational teaching                     6
                                                         What sort of feedback should I give to students?   35
The qualities of effective transnational teachers    8
                                                         How explicit should I make the assessment
Staff support services                              10   criteria?                                          38

Student support services                            11   How can I help my students avoid plagiarism?       40

                                                         Preparing and inducting tutors and co-teachers     43
                                                         Communicating with tutors and co-teachers          45
What are my students’ academic skills?              12
                                                         Communicating with students                        47
How does culture affect subject materials?          15
                                                         What about student support?                        48
How does language affect learning?                  18
                                                         Learning and teaching using technology             49
Integrating academic skills – a few ideas           21
                                                         Connecting and networking                          51
Preparing for intensive transnational teaching      24
                                                         UOW Learning-Teaching-Research Nexus               54
Carrying out quality assurance                      27
                                                         Approaches to evaluation                           55

                                                         Discussing and sharing experiences                 56

                                                         BIBLIOGRAPHY                                       58

Transnational Teaching at UOW                                                                                3

This booklet is intended primarily for:
    ●● University of Wollongong (UOW) academics
       who are involved in transnational teaching for
       the first time
    ●● new transnational subject coordinators
       employed by partner institutions to deliver
       UOW programs.
The booklet does not cover UOW policies, guidelines
or procedures. These can be found on the UOW web
site. Rather, it offers a perspective on the preparation
needed, as well as tips and suggestions for how to
coordinate effective teaching and learning during the
transnational experience.
The booklet will also be of interest to course
coordinators, co-teachers/tutors and others with
a management or support role in transnational
Much of this advice has been drawn from interviews
with UOW subject and course coordinators and
co-teachers, located both in Australia and at
transnational locations, as well as the literature on
transnational teaching. The perspectives of students
from a transnational course have also been included.
Co-teachers will be interested in much of the material
in this booklet, particularly the sections on classroom
engagement and assessment. ‘Co-teachers’ is an
inclusive term covering all tutors, casual teachers and
adjuncts – that is, all those teaching in the subject other
than the subject coordinator/lecturer.
In this booklet ‘peers’ refers to all academics, including    “I prefer the term
subject coordinators and lecturers, whether located at        ‘transnational’ to ‘offshore’,
Wollongong or transnationally. All have a critical role       which seems like a secondary
to play. In particular, co-teachers may often be the          thing. ‘Offshore’ is putting
students’ main learning support.                              Australia at the centre of the
For new transnational course coordinators, a boxed            world.”
area at the top of each section provides additional
ideas, including some key issues that might need to           — Transnational co-teacher
be addressed. Course coordinators should read this
booklet in conjunction with the various procedures at
For new academic staff, it is suggested that this booklet
be read in conjunction with ‘Teaching at UOW’, available
from the Academic Development Unit or on the UOW
web site.

4                                                                                     University of Wollongong
Transnational teaching involves teaching in multiple     A key message is that you don’t have to do it alone.
countries. This includes teaching in intensive mode      UOW has many experienced transnational teachers
away from the professional and academic support          who are happy to give advice to others.
of the academic’s own campus. In 2011, University
                                                         UOW Learning Development can assist with
of Wollongong (UOW) academics taught in Australia,
                                                         assessment design, assessing students’ English
Dubai, Hong Kong, Malaysia and Singapore.
                                                         language proficiency and developing learning
UOW students have some fundamental similarities          activities.
in all locations. They want to acquire knowledge,
                                                         UOW Learning Design Unit can assist with subject
pass their subjects and be positively perceived by
                                                         design and online delivery.
their peers and teachers. New students may lack
confidence in their English language proficiency, have
trouble understanding visiting teachers, be uncertain
of the academic expectations of UOW, become upset
by a poor mark or feel isolated. As students progress
they become more adept at writing and critical
thinking, develop their discipline knowledge and gain
confidence in their abilities.
                                                                “It’s helped my teaching craft. It’s a
Yet although the fundamentals of learning are
                                                                marvellous experience to be able to
similar across countries, the cultural expressions of
                                                                think about what it is we do and how
teaching and learning can be very different. Teaching
transnationally therefore involves:                             we do it. It really brings the pedagogy
                                                                to the fore. … And it’s fun. The
    ●● exploring cultural dimensions of curriculum              classroom is fun, the streets are fun.
       and teaching approaches                                  Hong Kong is a good place to be what
    ●● modifying content, teaching practices and                we are and do what we do.”
       assessment for a cultural context while
       maintaining high academic standards                        — Angela Brown, Subject Coordinator,
                                                                       Faculty of Health & Behavioural
    ●● preparing oneself for teaching in different                                           Sciences
       cultural contexts
    ●● a willingness to understand and appreciate
       cultural perspectives and customs.
Preparation also involves more than planning
for teaching. Availability and effectiveness of
technologies, tutor support and student expectations
are some key issues a transnational teacher
manages.                                                 UOW Academic Development Unit can arrange
                                                         workshops on teaching transnationally.
Much of the advice in this booklet was sourced from
UOW academics, co-teachers and students who have         Experienced UOW transnational teachers comment
kindly shared their experiences and initial struggles.   that transnational teaching can be very rewarding
Some of these have been montaged as ‘cautionary          and enjoyable. We hope that you, too, enjoy the
tales’, while others are offered as examples of good     experience, and that this booklet will help you to feel
practice.                                                better prepared for the journey.

Transnational Teaching at UOW                                                                                      5
There is a wide variety of transnational teaching               ●● internationalisation of the curriculum
approaches, with the more successful involving close               – ideally, this would extend beyond
collaborative teaching with sister institutions. At                choosing case studies and would include
UOW, approaches used may include:                                  an international perspective in subjects,
                                                                   international collaboration between
    ●● subjects and courses delivered by a
                                                                   academics and students at different global
       transnational partner, quality assured by
                                                                   sites and rich opportunities for students to
       Wollongong academics
                                                                   enhance their cross-cultural skills
    ●● lectures delivered in an intensive teaching              ●● subjects and academic programs which are
       week by a Wollongong academic, supported                    constantly scrutinised for their relevance
       by tutorials delivered by the transnational                 and applicability not just at the transnational
       partner through the session                                 teaching location but at the main Wollongong
    ●● lectures in an intensive teaching week by a                 campus of UOW as well
       Wollongong academic, supported by elearning              ●● mutual respect
       or distance learning through the session.                ●● regular communication and sharing of good
                                                                   practice between academics at both locations.
                                                            2 LECTURES DELIVERED AS ‘INTENSIVES’,
                                                            SUPPORTED BY WEEKLY TUTORIALS WITH LOCAL CO-
In this approach, teachers/academics who are                TEACHERS (INTENSIVES PLUS TUTORIALS MODEL)
employed at a partner institution or at UOW Dubai
                                                            This has been the most common UOW experience. It
(UOWD) deliver UOW subjects and courses. UOW
                                                            involves coordinating a cohort of students hosted at a
academics are responsible for quality assurance.
                                                            partner institution in an overseas location. In this type
There are often two academics responsible for the           of transnational teaching, students are enrolled in
subject, one in each institution. The UOW subject           UOW programs, and study the same subjects as main
coordinator is the academic responsible for the design      campus students. Typically:
and delivery of the Australian subject. This UOW
                                                                ●● the same subject is taught at the both the
subject coordinator (or sometimes another UOW
                                                                   main campus and transnationally
academic) is also responsible for quality assurance at
all locations, including UOWD, and in this role they are        ●● subject materials, resources, and assessment
called the ‘Quality Assuror’. Academics in both locations          tasks are predominantly developed by the
contribute to the design of any necessary modifications            UOW subject coordinator
to the transnational version of the subject. The                ●● the UOW subject coordinator usually delivers
transnational partner or UOWD academic carries out (or             the core material to transnational students
supervises) the teaching and marking.                              in an intensive teaching week early in the
                                                                   session/semester at the transnational
Another possibility is that the subject is unique to the
                                                                   teaching site
transnational location. It will then usually be designed
by the transnational partner and/or UOWD subject                ●● local ‘co-teachers’ from the transnational
coordinator, and reviewed and approved through the                 partner institution guide and tutor the
transnational quality assurance procedure (see Policy              students through the remaining material
link box). A UOW academic is assigned responsibility               during the session, based on learning
for quality assurance.                                             activities developed by the UOW subject
Both versions of this model are based on partnership.
                                                                ●● the subjects are supported online via
Academics collaborate across locations on curriculum
                                                                   eLearning, which allows transnational
design, assessment tasks, case studies/examples and
                                                                   students to access subject resources and to
teaching methods in order to produce both localised
                                                                   interact online with lecturers, co-teachers
and internationally relevant subjects and programs.
                                                                   and their student peers outside of the
Other guiding principles in this collaborative process             intensive teaching week
are:                                                            ●● in some cases distance delivery methods
    ●● equivalence of content, assessment tasks and                such as eduStream lectures or activity
       learning outcomes across locations                          handbooks are used to combine distance and
                                                                   face-to-face teaching.

6                                                                                         University of Wollongong
This approach is used by the School of Nursing,                “Whatever delivery model is used, we need to
Midwifery and Indigenous Health. As with the previous          think about how the program will support global
approach, the UOW subject coordinator has cohorts              learning. How will students at transnational
of students in Australia as well as at the transnational       locations and Australian locations collaborate,
teaching location. They offer face-to-face teaching for        in group projects or discussion groups? Global
the transnational cohort through intensive teaching            learning is now an important part of subject
weeks at the beginning of session/semester.                    design.”
In this approach there are no tutorials or local co-                         — Sandra Wills, Executive Director,
teachers to support the student through the session.
Instead, more attention is given to supporting
students at a distance, using careful subject design
which makes the best use of eLearning tools for
learning and communication.
                                                             ‘Global learning’ has been defined as a student-
This approach is successful where:                           centred activity where learners from different
                                                             cultures use technology to improve their global
    ●● students are highly motivated, mature
                                                             perspectives while remaining in their home
       professionals who can study independently
                                                             countries (Gibson, Rimmington et al, 2008). For
    ●● teaching activities/assessments are designed          example, classes or groupwork where students
       to encourage peer learning and eLearning, and         located in different countries come together online.
    ●● UOW academics are committed to
       communicating with students during the
       session and supporting them using eLearning
       and other tools.


                 MODEL:      1. Partner delivery:          2. Intensives Plus          3. Intensives Plus
                             UOW Quality Assurance         Tutorials Model             eLearning/Distance
                             Model                                                     Model
 Subject Coordination        Partner institution           Wollongong academic         Wollongong academic
                             academic working with
                             Wollongong academic
 Lectures                    Partner institution           Wollongong academic         Wollongong academic
 Support during              Partner institution           Tutorials by partner        Wollongong academic
 session                     academic and tutor            institution co-teacher      teaching online through
                                                                                       eLearning, distance
                                                           Wollongong academic
                                                           available for questions,
                                                           advice and feedback
                                                           (mainly by email)

 Marking                     Bulk of marking is by         Bulk of marking is by       Wollongong academic
                             partner institution           Wollongong academic
                             academic and tutor
                                                           Some marking eg of
                             Quality assurance/ check      presentations is by
                             marking by Wollongong         partner institution co-
                             quality assurer               teacher

Transnational Teaching at UOW                                                                                       7
  The experience of transnational teaching inevitably         CULTURAL KNOWLEDGE
  challenges you to reflect on your role as a teacher.
                                                              Transnational teachers themselves need to be
  You may find yourself in situations where the usual
                                                              intercultural learners, seeking to increase their
  rules do not operate, where assumptions are not
                                                              cultural awareness and being open to learn from
  helpful, or where your ability to deal with situations
                                                              new experiences. To be effective, they need to
  is diminished by a lack of understanding of local
                                                              acknowledge the variety in teaching styles and
  custom. Transnational teaching may test your beliefs
                                                              different traditions of education that their students
  about teaching and learning and challenge your
                                                              may have experienced.
  flexibility and cultural awareness.
  Various writers refer to the key characteristics of            “Lecturers need induction training in being
  effective international and/or transnational teachers          culturally sensitive – we need to train lecturers
  (Farkas-Teekens, 1997, Leask, 2001, 2006, 2007,                how to show their interest in and respect for other
  Vulpe et al, 2000). These characteristics involve              cultures and environments.”
  teaching skills and approaches, personal attributes,                — Peter McLean, Faculty of Commerce
  cultural knowledge and knowledge of policy and
                                                              DISCIPLINE KNOWLEDGE
                                                              If a discipline varies across locations, transnational
                                                              teachers may need to be aware of any major
  In addition to providing timely and appropriate             departures which could affect students’ prior
  feedback on assessment tasks and an enthusiastic            knowledge and/or industry expectations.
  approach to what they are teaching, transnational
  teachers also need to:
                                                              KNOWLEDGE OF POLICY AND PROCEDURES
       ●● adapt learning activities to suit the needs of
                                                              Effective transnational teachers are informed
          transnational students. This typically involves
                                                              about international standards, issues, practices and
          including local content (examples and case
                                                              perspectives within their discipline. They are also
          studies) in the curriculum
                                                              informed about the relevant policies, guidelines and
       ●● make skilled use of multi-media and                 procedures. At UOW these include:
          communication technology, both to support
                                                                  ●● the Quality Assurance of Transnational
          communication of concepts and for student-
                                                                     Education (Offshore) and UOWD Teaching and
          student and student-teacher communication.
                                                                     Learning Procedure
                                                                  ●● the UOW Graduate Qualities
                                                                  ●● the Academic Integrity and Plagiarism Policy
  Effective teaching in any situation requires flexibility,
  patience and collegiality. In addition, in transnational        ●● the Code of Practice – Teaching and
  teaching it is important to be able to:                            Assessment
       ●● communicate with people of another culture              ●● the Good Practice Assessment Guidelines; the
          in a way that engenders respect and trust                  Teaching and Assessment Policy, and
       ●● work within the local conditions and                    ●● the Code of Practice – Students.
                                                              Transnational procedures can be accessed at https://
                                                              index.html#Transnational and the other documents
“It is really hard, there is a huge difference. Even if       can be accessed at:
they are doing a fantastic job teaching in Wollongong,        policy/learning/ Further information regarding
it may not work here, they may have to change.”               policies and procedures can be sourced by contacting
                                                              the Director, Transnational Education and Alliances at
                            — Transnational co-teacher        UOW.

  8                                                                                         University of Wollongong
Within the transnational teaching environment it is
important to be alert for potentially conflicting policies
or practices across institutions, and prepared to
help students, co-teachers and peers at all locations
                                                             CRITICAL ISSUES
understand UOW expectations and procedures.                    FOR COURSE
The Australian Vice Chancellors Committee’s
Provision of Education to International Students:
Codes and Guidelines for Australian Universities
(AVCC, 2005b, pp 7-8) contains a number of guidelines        • How will new transnational teachers be
dealing with teaching international students, many             prepared for their role – for example,
of which apply directly to transnational teaching              workshops, mentoring from course
contexts. For instance, it stipulates that staff               coordinator, mentoring from experienced
members representing universities overseas or                  transnational teachers? (The Academic
delivering programs to international students should           Development Unit can help facilitate a
be carefully selected and be:                                  workshop for your faculty if needed.)

    ●● sympathetic and clear communicators with              • How will you encourage teachers to see
       a thorough knowledge of their university’s              the transnational students as part of the
       courses and procedures, and of the Australian           UOW student body (not as peripheral or
       education system                                        ancillary)?

    ●● sensitive to the culture and customs of the           • How will you discourage assumptions
       country they are visiting and/or the students           of cultural superiority and encourage
       they are teaching, and aware of historical and          cultural openness?
       political background and educational systems          • How will you prepare, consult and/
    ●● knowledgeable, experienced and competent                or collaborate with academics and co-
       in the administration of student policy and in          teachers at different locations?
       face-to-face dealings with students
    ●● aware of the quality of the partnership
       arrangement where the university is engaged
       in offshore provision.
Additionally, the AVCC stipulates that Australian
universities should “recognise their on-going
responsibilities for the education and welfare of
international students, and take appropriate account
of the potential cultural and linguistic difficulties that
international students may encounter. Australian
universities should ensure that academic programs,
support services and learning environment offered to
all international students encourage them to have a
positive attitude about Australian education” (AVCC,
2005b, p 4).

Transnational Teaching at UOW                                                                              9

 Transnational           Advice and procedures for establishing new courses
 Education & Alliances
                         Annual review procedures
                         Quality assurance procedures

 Academic Development    Provides teaching development opportunities for all teaching
 Unit                    staff, including casual teachers. Includes University Learning
                         and Teaching program (ULT), tips for tutors workshops,
                         seminars and podcasts, advice on teaching awards and advice
                         on probation and promotion applications. Offered face-to-face
                         at Wollongong or online at other locations (unless funding is
                         availabe for travel).

 Learning Design         Offers assistance with curriculum design and teaching
                         technology, including assessment task design, use of eLearning
                         and innovative resource development.

 Faculty Service         Allocates technical and learning design staff for an agreed
 Agreements              number of hours to help selected academic staff members to
                         develop innovative teaching resources.

 Learning Development    Offers advice on curriculum development and embedding
                         student academic skills and English language skills. Produces
                         resources and handouts for students.
                         If funding is provided for travel, a Learning Developer may be
                         able visit a campus to offer workshop programs and integrated
                         seminars for students, or a block of individual student
                         consultations. These arrangements must be negotiated with the
                         Head of Learning Development.

 Library                 Through the faculty librarians, academics can access faculty-
                         specific advice on developing student research skills as well as
                         assistance with their own research. The Library also produces
                         online referencing guides for different Faculties and other
                         useful online tools which can be incorporated into teaching.

 Turnitin                Anti-plagiarism software that can be incorporated into subjects
                         and assessment tasks. Advice should be sought before use.

10                                                                                   University of Wollongong
 Library                   Transnational students have access to e-readings, online databases and e-books
                           through the UOW Library. In 2010, over 50,000 e-books were purchased by the
                           Library to enhance access by students, particularly at transnational and regional
                           campuses. The Library continues to add to the e-book collection.
                           The UOW Library also provides a number of online tools to assist with research,
                           including a referencing tool at
                           Students also would usually have access to a library through the partner

 Learning Development      Students can access online resources such as the Unilearning academic writing
                           tool, a range of handouts and guides to academic writing and statistical modules.
                           Where a student is identified as at-risk and referred by a subject coordinator or
                           lecturer, online individual consultations can be organised.

 StartSmart online         An online orientation to academic skills including referencing.

 Information technology    All students are given a UOW login and email account. Course administrators
                           should note that enrolments will need to be notified to ITS by ARD well ahead of
                           the transnational session so that user names can be created.
                           UOW eLearning (subject web sites) is available at every location.
                           Some technology may need to be negotiated with the partner institution:
                                ●● access to computers
                                ●● student Internet quotas
                                ●● classes held in computer labs
                                ●● specialist software.

 Academic advice           Subject advice is given by the subject coordinator.
                           Course advice is usually provided by the local course coordinator. Students may
                           also contact the Wollongong sub-dean.

 Accommodation             Students can be referred to accommodation service of the partner institution.

 Scholarships              Every scholarship comes with eligibility conditions. Some scholarships may be
                           available to UOW students at any location, but many are restricted. Interested
                           students should check the UOW scholarships web pages.

 Counselling               Students seeking counselling should be referred to the counselling service of the
                           partner institution.

 Grievances                Students at any location can instigate an Academic Grievance Resolution

Transnational Teaching at UOW                                                                                  11

                                                           Consider the level of skill needed to succeed in
 ACADEMIC SKILLS?                                          the subject/course, in areas such as: independent
                                                           research; referencing; literature reviews; essay
WHAT CAN I EXPECT?                                         writing; critical thinking and analysis; problem solving;
                                                           mathematics; computer programming; group work;
You can expect that students at all locations will         presentations; and academic English.
be similarly capable of learning. They will generally
be interested in developing deep understandings            Some possibilities are:
and problem-solving skills, consciously seeking                ●● talk to colleagues who have previously taught
an international outlook, and viewing international               and marked work from this student cohort
education as a long-term investment in career
                                                               ●● if students are entering from an articulated
advancement (Bell, 2008a, Gatfield and Hyde, 2005,
                                                                  course ask the course coordinator or faculty
Pyvis and Chapman, 2004, Rizvi, 2005). However, they
                                                                  officer to show you the subject outlines and
may well have different educational experiences or
                                                                  assessment tasks from prior courses
training to draw on this capacity for learning.
                                                               ●● ask for advice from the tutors, co-teachers or
                                                                  subject coordinator in their country of study,
      “Learning styles are similar to any class                   as they will best know their students
     anywhere. Students range from highly                      ●● consult with Learning Development at UOW,
     autonomous independent learners to dependent                 as they may have previously worked with
     learners. We need to be careful not to                       similar transnational student cohorts, or can
     stereotype. It’s a global classroom.”
       — Peter Kell, Course Coordinator 2003–2009,            CAUTIONARY TALE High failure rates in an
                               Faculty of Education           undergraduate subject. Students were admitted
                                                              to a course based on success in a very different
It is a good idea to question any assumptions                 subject area. When they performed poorly in their
about the learning capacity of students based on              first year the academics were shocked and unsure
nationality. For instance, various researchers have           how to handle the problems. It took some time to
refuted the earlier stereotype of students from Asian         identify the skills gaps and put support in place.
cultural backgrounds as taking a surface approach
to learning (Beasley & Parson, 1999; Biggs &
Watkins, 1996; Chalmers & Volet, 1997; Choi, 1997;                help you realistically assess the academic
Kelly & Ha, 1998; Kember, 2000; On, 1996). While                  and English language standards of students
students’ earlier educational experiences may have             ●● set an assessment due very early in the
encouraged particular approaches such as a focus                  session which can help to identify individual
on memorisation (Ng, 2001), globalisation influences              and group skills issues, and plan to follow up
on educational cultures in Asia are increasingly                  with support where needed.
emphasising critical thinking skills and active learning
(Bell, 2008b, 2009; Ng, 2001; Mok, 2003; Tan, 2003).
                                                              “Students coming from NSW high schools come
                                                              from a homogenous experience, but this isn’t
WHAT CAN’T I ASSUME?                                          the case for people coming to our transnational
You can’t assume that transnational students will             campuses. Don’t assume. They are often very
have the same academic skills as students at another          bright students but they don’t have the same
location or from another course, even across groups           background as our students. Their starting
that may seem similar. Students may have come                 point can be very different. Get help – it’s a joint
through very different national education systems             effort, not an individual one. Work with Learning
and/or prior studies, each with different emphases.           Development and other colleagues.”
It follows that extra development of some academic                            —Rob Castle, DVC(A)
skills may need to be built into the course/subject.

12                                                                                        University of Wollongong
Strategies can be grouped into two main approaches:            CRITICAL ISSUES FOR
     ●● offer extra support outside of class –
        ‘supplemental support’
                                                                 COURSE COORDINATORS
     ●● offer support within the subject – ‘integrated
                                                                 • How will you arrive a good understanding
                                                                   of students’ prior learning, for example are
Supplemental support can include extra tutorials                   there articulated courses where you could
for struggling students, English language workshops,               examine their previous curricula?
handouts or links to learning support resources.
For some courses, a special bridging program may                 • What are the academic skills needed?
be effective. This approach is attractive to subject               Are there likely to be any skills gaps? For
coordinators as it does not take up valuable class time            example, you might compare students’
during the intensive teaching weeks, draws on existing             skills to those of other cohorts you are
learning support material, and can take less time to               teaching (writing, maths, referencing,
develop or access. However, without clear guidance it              research, analysis etc)
can be hard for students to conceptually link generic            • If there are skills gaps, how will you plan
advice to their immediate learning needs. Access to                opportunities for students to acquire the
learning resources does not guarantee understanding                skills needed to succeed in subjects? For
or necessarily develop students’ capacity to apply the             example through orientation programs,
instruction to their assessment tasks.                             online academic skills modules, and/or the
Integrated support is generally considered to be the               development of subject-specific integrated
better model. An integrated approach is one which                  activities and resources. The Library and
finds ways to develop students’ academic skills at                 Learning Development academics can
the same time as they work with subject content.                   help develop these with you.
Language and learning support are most effective
when integrated into course and teaching design
(Percy et al, 2005).
Integrated support has the additional benefit of
                                                          DOES THE SUBJECT HAVE TO BE TAUGHT IN EXACTLY
ensuring that all students have the same learning
                                                          THE SAME WAY AT EACH CAMPUS?
support and avoids the stigma of ‘remedial’ assistance.
                                                          No. Diverse teaching strategies can be used to
Usually integration of academic skill development
                                                          bring students to the same standard. The Quality
is done by modifying learning and assessment tasks
                                                          Assurance of Transnational Education (Offshore) &
to build skills to the levels needed. For example, you
                                                          UOWD Teaching and Learning Procedure states that:
                                                          “The content of subjects, textbooks and readings and
    ●● give students tasks in class that model the
                                                          the nature of assessment tasks may vary between the
         approach that will be expected in assessment
                                                          equivalent UOW and offshore and/or UOWD subjects
                                                          so as to reflect the pedagogical needs of the student
    ●● provide examples of work that show what is         cohorts at each location, and to reflect particular
         expected                                         requirements imposed by relevant higher education
    ●● explicitly focus on a particular academic skill    accreditation agencies.”
         in different assessment tasks                    All variations must be approved by the faculty as part
    ●● incrementally develop academic skills across       of quality assurance of subject outlines.
         assessment tasks
    ●● make expectations clear in marking criteria          “The students love to have a Western person bring a
    ●● if students are unpractised at writing complex       completely different experience to their education.
         reports or long essays, consider splitting the     They love it and they hate it at the same time
         assessment into two or more components.            because you have different expectations of them
Although it might initially take more time to               compared to local teachers; you have a different
collaboratively develop curricula using integrated          teaching style; you expect a lot more autonomy and
learning support, it has the benefit of being               independence; you tend to have higher expectations
sustainable over time and across multiple deliveries.       of their performance in the classroom.”
                                                                        — Transnational co-teacher

Transnational Teaching at UOW                                                                                     13
  EXAMPLES OF PAST WORK –                                  WHERE CAN I GET HELP?
  FACULTY OF ARTS                                          1. Talk to your course coordinator for guidance and
Hong Kong students in the early intakes of a
                                                           2. Make contact with your Faculty’s Learning
transnational BA program reported their ‘culture
                                                           Development representative (the current list can be
shock’ and confusion about the academic
                                                           found at
expectations. One returning lecturer decided to
                                                           ldstaff). These specialists are available to help with:
address their concerns by working with Learning
Development to find models of good/poor academic               ●● embedding academic skills and language
writing by his main campus students who had                       support into a subject
just completed the same assessment task (with
                                                               ●● developing subject-specific resources or class
their permission). The Hong Kong students were
delighted with these models and the insights into
their Wollongong peers’ experience, and grew                   ●● designing sample exercises to help students
more creative not only in the selection of research               acquire suitable vocabulary, evaluate
projects but in their reflection of their local cultural          research, practice critical thinking etc
expectations.                                                  ●● refining assessment tasks and marking
    — Mark McLelland, Subject Coordinator, Faculty of             criteria
                                                Arts           ●● delivering formative feedback on English
                                                                  language and writing in an early assessment
                                                               ●● subject to funding approval, in cases of high
  INDUCTION – CENTRE FOR                                          need Learning Developers may be available to
                                                                  accompany you to classes to collaboratively
  TRANSNATIONAL CRIME                                             teach academic skills.
  PREVENTION                                               Be sure to give Learning Development plenty of notice
                                                           if you are going to need their assistance.
Many students in transnational crime prevention
are police or legal officers who have not been
to university before. To help them understand
expectations and build their academic skills, students
in both Wollongong and China complete a series of
online modules on academic expectations, research,
reading strategies and writing that were developed
by Learning Development and the Library, who also
taught a two-day workshop program of workshops on
campus at Wollongong. See
While students reported that they referred to the
online modules several times across the session,
                                                                            “I worked with Learning Development
they also reported not fully appreciating the generic
                                                                            to deliver a Wollongong subject to
workshop program as it was not attached to any
‘real’ assessment task. In 2010, follow-up workshops                        a different audience. The Learning
were offered immediately before assessment tasks                            Design group helped me as well, and
rather than at the beginning of session, so that                            the Library was fabulous. I found the
students could immediately see how they could                               university was very supportive of
use the academic skills needed for specific learning                        teaching offshore.”
tasks. Additionally, a core subject was redeveloped
to include scaffolded assessment tasks and learning                                — Moira Williamson, School of
resources designed to incrementally build students’                                 Nursing, Faculty of Health &
academic research and writing skills.                                                       Behavioural Science

        — Mark Loves, Course Coordinator, and Judith
              Marychurch, FEC Chair, Faculty of Law

  14                                                                                     University of Wollongong
You can expect that your transnational students
will have a basic knowledge of other countries, have
heard of a few very famous international people,
movements and brands, and will be aware of and
have opinions on major global events.
                                                              “The main difference is the experience
                                                              and background. What I have with local
                                                              teachers here is that we share the same
You can’t assume that students and teachers from              cultural background and the same
another country share knowledge that is well-known            knowledge, so when we mention an
in your country, whether of films/TV shows/books,             example we are all ‘yes yes that’s the one’.
social movements, brands, companies, historical               But with the Wollongong teachers you have
events, ideas, technologies, politics, people or              to try to figure out some really common
philosophies.                                                 examples so that we can share together. It
Even in cases where knowledge is shared, it can’t             is not just the example that is important – it
be assumed that people from other countries                   is through this example that I get what we
conceptualise or interpret it in the same way.                need students to learn”.
                                                                                — Transnational co-teacher

Sometimes you may be unsure of whether students
hold the same basic philosophical or theoretical
assumptions as those assumed in your subject. For
                                                          Rather than avoiding the issues, it can be beneficial
example, in Australia some commonly held principles,
                                                          to make any particular philosophical or theoretical
many of which arguably underlie public policy, include:
                                                          principles that underlie your subject explicit to
    ●● the individual economic good should be             students. One approach is to spell out these principles
       balanced with the collective economic good         in an early lecture, and open them up to discussion/
                                                          debate. Another approach is to try and find out about
    ●● individual human rights should be protected
                                                          any areas of difference before teaching begins, so that
       even against the powerful interests of
                                                          points of difference can be clarified to students.
                                                          Making your principles explicit and/or engaging in
    ●● religion is not a matter for the state
                                                          debate doesn’t necessarily mean you have to change
    ●● people should not be discriminated against         the subject content or the position from which you
       because of their gender, race, religion,           teach. It may mean:
       sexuality, disability or marital status
                                                              ●● spending more class time explaining
    ●● evolution describes the theory of origins best            principles
       supported by science
                                                              ●● acknowledging the different perspectives
       … and so on.
                                                                 of students and remaining open to ongoing
None of these principles are universally accepted                dialogue
(even within Australia). Opposing views may be held in
                                                              ●● clarifying expectations and ground rules.
other countries as diverse as the United States, Saudi
Arabia and China. These and other assumptions can         This levels the playing field, so that students and
profoundly impact on subject areas as diverse as law,     teachers know where they stand, and can respectfully
arts, health, science and commerce.                       acknowledge differing positions.

Transnational Teaching at UOW                                                                                  15
                                                           OWN REGION?
In many cases there will be two subject coordinators,
                                                           Yes, if they are illustrative examples — that is, those
one in each location. One may have developed
                                                           added to content to help students understand a point.
the original material for Australia and the other
                                                           Illustrative examples help students by connecting
may be modifying the subject for another country.
                                                           theory with their existing frame of reference. But
Alternatively the subject may be undergoing review so
                                                           if the example is outside their existing frame of
that it is suitable for delivery in both countries.
                                                           reference, it won’t have the desired effect. It may even
In either case, development of the modified subject        be confusing rather than helpful.
will need to be shared and collegial. An initial meeting
                                                           In many cases examples were originally added to help
will need to be scheduled to discuss broad issues:
                                                           the understanding of particular groups of students,
     ●● the aims and learning outcomes of the subject      and so are, to some degree, culturally based.
     ●● the graduate qualities developed in the subject
     ●● the learning capabilities and prior learning of       CAUTIONARY TALE: An exam paper contained a
        the transnational students                            scenario based on the Melbourne Cup, and a short
                                                              explanation that it was a culturally significant
     ●● whether the subject content including                 horse race was added to the transnational version
        examples and case studies is suitably pitched         of the paper. Many transnational students didn’t
        to transnational students                             fully understand what this scenario meant and
     ●● whether the assessment tasks are suitably             struggled to answer the question effectively.
        pitched to transnational students (for
        example, a large assessment of a type
        unfamiliar to transnational students may           No, if they are foundational examples — that is,
        need to be broken into several smaller             those which show critical turning points in an area of
        assessments to support students acquiring          study or practice, or are standard examples known
        new skills)                                        internationally in the field. Additional explanation may
                                                           help if these are from contexts unfamiliar to students.
     ●● what learning support will need to be
        integrated into the teaching across session        No, if they are deliberately intercultural — that
        to help students meet the learning and             is, they were designed specifically to build
        assessment expectations.                           intercultural competence in students, for example
                                                           involve culturally-specific areas such as Australian
Further meetings may be needed, whether online             Indigenous studies, or Western legal systems. Part
using chat tools or Skype video, or through email          of the reason for studying a degree offered by an
exchanges, to agree on and refine:                         overseas university/campus is to gain cultural
     ●● the suggested modifications to the subject         understanding.
        modules for the transnational context              Possibly, if they are professional examples — that
                                                           is, those which engage the students by showing how
     ●● if necessary, ways to slightly modify the
                                                           what they are learning relates to their chosen field.
        assessment tasks so that they remain
                                                           Graduate destinations and career prospects vary
        of equal weight, but meet the learning
                                                           according to location, and some adjustments may be
        capabilities of the transnational cohort
     ●● clear, specific marking criteria for the
        assessment tasks, to avoid possible student
        and tutor confusion.
Both subject coordinators contribute to agreeing on          “He actually gave a lot of local movies as examples
the modifications needed. The subject coordinator            and the students were all – ok here is a guy, an
located in Australia will usually be responsible for         Australian guy, who has seen things in our films
quality assurance. As Quality Assuror, they will provide     that we didn’t know about, and it is embarrassing
comments and may require modifications to any new            to us, these are our movies! But we learnt about it
material. Both subject coordinators need to aware of         through Australian eyes. It is a very good way of
and prepared for these roles and understand that their       learning – getting to know yourself and your city
decisions need to be collaborative and negotiated.           through the eyes of someone else.”
                                                                                          – Transnational student

16                                                                                       University of Wollongong
Not necessarily. Some academics choose to design
                                                              CRITICAL ISSUES FOR
the subject to contain a mixture of examples drawn              COURSE COORDINATORS
from all of the countries where they are teaching. This
mix of examples is then taught at each site, possibly
with more attention to some aspects more than                  • Which subjects are appropriate for the
others, depending on location.                                   program? What are the interests and
                                                                 professional aspirations of the students?
                                                                 What have they already studied? What
“We are going over there to integrate our culture,               accreditation arrangements will be
not to impose our culture. If we don’t do that we will           sought?
lose the students. Flying in and saying ‘here is my            • How will UOW Graduate Qualities be
wisdom’ and then flying out again is not the way.”               incorporated into course design, so that
                                                                 they are explicitly linked to teaching and
          — Penney McFarlane, Degree Coordinator,                learning activities?
                           Faculty of Informatics              • How will you convince new teachers in
                                                                 the program on the need for cultural
                                                                 modifications to materials from Australia?
AT EACH CAMPUS, OR CAN IT BE VARIED?                           • How will you stay in communication with
                                                                 teachers and quality assurors as subjects
The core subject content is usually the same at every            are modified for delivery across sites?
location, however:                                             • Can you negotiate faculty resources, time
                                                                 or other support for coordinators to modify
    ●● examples and case studies can vary across
       locations. Arguably, using examples and case
       studies originally designed to help Australian
       students may make the subject harder for
       others                                             ARE THERE DIFFERENT WAYS OF PRESENTING
    ●● some content may have to be changed for            INFORMATION AND IDEAS?
       other reasons, eg to meet local accreditation
       requirements.                                      It has been suggested that a cultural difference can
                                                          occur in how arguments are structured. A traditional
All variations must be approved by the faculty as part    Western discourse may present an assertion and then
of quality assurance of subject outlines.                 expand by providing evidence, examples etc. However
                                                          in some East Asian countries the opposite style is
WHERE CAN I SOURCE REGIONAL EXAMPLES AND CASE             often (but not always) preferred – first lay out related
STUDIES?                                                  information, then explore its ramifications to build a
                                                          picture or case, and finally finish with the assertion
    ●● If some students already work in the field of      or conclusion. This is somewhat oversimplified; for
       study, they may be able to offer suggestions.      example experiential learning in Western countries
    ●● Professional organisations in a region often       may also explore evidence before drawing out theory.
       have ideas for case studies that can also          We can be alert to cultural differences, and aware
       address concerns of local employers.               that people accustomed to one style may find the
    ●● Peers and co-teachers at the transnational         other style cumbersome. It may not be necessary to
       location are an invaluable source of ideas.        change your style, but it can be helpful to be aware of
       They may also be willing to read through your      this as an area of possible cultural difference.
       subject materials to give advice.                  “Chinese students expressed a strong preference
    ●● Academic journal articles from the region can      for starting with the big picture ie the driving forces
       be useful.                                         in the society and area before moving onto concrete
                                                          examples. This has been found to have great
    ●● For simple examples, local or international
                                                          importance for both the introduction of new topics
       newspapers and websites can be a good
                                                          as well as the consideration of actual examples and
                                                          scenarios” (Bowering and Lock, 2007, p 3).

Transnational Teaching at UOW                                                                                       17
WHAT CAN I EXPECT?                                         WHAT STRATEGIES CAN I USE TO HELP STUDENTS
                                                           UNDERSTAND THE LECTURES?
You can expect that your transnational students will
have passed an English proficiency test or equivalent          ●● Provide lecture notes or copies of slides ahead
to ensure they meet minimum standards in speaking,                 of the class. Students who find lectures hard to
reading, writing and listening.                                    follow or who can’t concentrate on discussion
                                                                   while taking notes will find this helpful.
You can expect that many of your transnational
students will lack confidence in English. A common             ●● Explain how and when students can ask
anxiety is that ‘I don’t speak/write English well                  questions. For example, you could let students
enough to do well in the assessment tasks’. This fear              know that some class time will be put aside
may also make new students hesitate to answer or                   for questions and to check their understanding
ask questions in class.                                            This will prepare them for the opportunity to
                                                                   engage with the lecture material.
                                                               ●● Speak clearly at a slower pace than usual.
                                                                   Speed of delivery is a major barrier to
You can’t assume that students possess                             understanding. Slowing down takes effort and
the vocabulary of the discipline or that their                     can be difficult for lecturers, who feel pressure
conversational language skills are sufficient to                   to impart a lot of content in class time, but is
immediately perform well in academic English. This                 key to ensuring student engagement.
does not mean that the students are not intelligent            ●● Clearly identify the structure and main
or capable of understanding the central themes                     concepts of each lecture, and signal subsidiary
or concepts, but it does mean that they may have                   points and topic changes as they occur.
difficulty communicating their understanding.
                                                               ●● Take a plain-English, conversational
The Australian Vice-Chancellors’ Committee report                  approach, rather than reading from formal
on transnational teaching found that pre-entry                     notes as a script. Formal notes tend to be
English language testing is not sufficient to the                  denser with more unfamiliar words and more
needs of students entering higher education either                 difficult sentence structures.
on or offshore. The report recommends that ongoing             ●● Avoid metaphors, or if they are important
language and learning support should be planned by                 explain them. Second language students
universities (AVCC, 2005a).                                        frequently misunderstand these, and
                                                                   misunderstandings can be a more serious
IS IT MY RESPONSIBILITY TO ASSIST STUDENTS WITH                    problem than non-understandings.
LANGUAGE SUPPORT?                                              ●● Use redundancy when explaining key concepts,
Student learning and language support will need                    by repeating points using different words
to planned by the course coordinator. Coordinators             ●● List key points using PowerPoint or whiteboard
and lecturers will need to discuss and plan for this           ●● Use visual aids, but remember that second
support across the program and within or parallel to               language speakers may take longer to
subjects.                                                          process both spoken and visual messages.
When designing support, it is important not to give            ●● Schedule changes in student activity to aid
messages to the students that they are ‘in deficit’                concentration and memory in longer classes.
or in need of ‘remedial’ assistance – they have been           ●● Summarise at the end of the lecture and
accepted into the program by UOW as meeting the                    explain context of the topic discussed –
entrance requirements of the course, after all, and                how it relates to the next topic and/or the
may have done very well in their previous studies in               assessment task, which readings are relevant.
other languages (Doherty & Singh, 2005, p 53).                 ●● Find links between the readings and the
It is also important to realise that academic language             lecture topics – giving students a strategic
and literacy is not something that can be simply ‘fixed’           way of approaching the readings can help
in a generic bridging or pre-entry class or by one-off             them process the information more effectively.
supplemental resources – it is context-specific and        (Flowerdew, 1994, Flowerdew and Miller, 1995, Huang,
‘developed by degrees’ (Taylor et al, 1988 cited in        2005, Littlemore, 2001, Lynch, 1994, McKnight, 1994).
AVCC, 2005a, p 5).

18                                                                                       University of Wollongong
   ●● Check that subject guides are clearly written,
                                                                 CRITICAL ISSUES FOR
      and that the required and recommended                        COURSE COORDINATORS
      reading lists are organised around topic or
      lecture areas. Consider selecting easier
                                                                  • What will be the language policy for
      readings to start with so that students move
                                                                    tutorials (percentage of English to be
      from more accessible to more conceptually
                                                                    spoken in class)?
      difficult texts.
   ●● Limit the amount of reading. Keep in mind                   • How will you brief new transnational
      that it takes longer to read in a second                      subject coordinators so they understand
      language. A few dense paragraphs may take                     language issues (Learning Development
      as long to read in a second language as an                    can help)?
      entire article in a first language.                         • How will you evaluate the range of
   ●● If the readings are very dense, consider                      language levels in the student cohort?
      highlighting key passages. It can be difficult
                                                                  • How will academic English support will be
      for second-language speakers to determine
                                                                    made available to students?
      the main points.
   ●● When selecting articles and texts, consider
      the linguistic difficulty and complexity. If more
      than 5% of terms are unfamiliar to students,
      or the complexity is beyond their language
      ability, they are likely to give up or seek          SHOULD I BE CONCERNED IF STUDENTS DON’T SPEAK
      shortcuts (Macaro, 2003, pp 65, 130-131).            ENGLISH IN TUTORIALS AND GROUP WORK?
   ●● Ask Learning Development to help with                If the course is advertised as an English language
      exercises to build vocabulary in the subject         degree:
      area. Cobb describes a paradox where, to
      understand what they are reading, students                ●● all tutorials should include English language
      need to understand most of the words in a                     learning and teaching
      text, yet to understand most of the words in              ●● all assessment tasks should be conducted
      a text they need to understand what they are                  entirely in English.
      reading. It follows that reading alone won’t         Whether or not some use of the students’ own
      allow students to develop the vocabulary they        language is helpful is the subject of debate. Some
      need (Cobb, 2007).                                   teachers believe small group work in the students’ own
   ●● Design activities that help students come to         language is very helpful to learning and encourages
      an understanding of key texts. For instance,         active engagement with the topic under discussion.
      ease in with a comprehension reading activity        Discussion of concepts in students’ first language may
      which walks students through a text while            encourage deep learning (Skyrme, 2005).
      asking questions that will help them identify        Others disagree, suggesting that discussion of
      the context, the topic under discussion, the         concepts in students’ second language requires the
      author’s argument, and the evidence used to          effort of translation in two directions and is not always
      support that argument.                               successful as concepts may not align and arguments
   ●● Encourage students to discuss the readings           may not be equally convincing in both languages
      with each other, eg in small groups. This            (Smith and Smith, 1999). Skyrme suggests resolving
      activity could be in their own language with         this dilemma by accepting some use of first language
      a report back to the rest of the class or the        as a natural stage of learning, which students ideally
      teacher in English.                                  move past as they gain expertise (Skyrme, 2005).

               “I don’t mind what language students use in group work. I just think it’s great
               that they’re engaging, and getting involved in the topic. Afterwards, I get them
               to report back to the class in English.”

                        — Moira Williamson, Subject Coordinator, Faculty of Health &
                                          Behavioural Sciences

Transnational Teaching at UOW                                                                                    19
You can also read
Next slide ... Cancel