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“If I’m here to teach means I’m really good”: an IPA study into International Academic Staff lived experiences – challenges, coping strategies, investment, and identity.

Ooi, P., 2022. “If I’m here to teach means I’m really good”: an IPA study into International Academic Staff lived experiences – challenges, coping strategies, investment, and identity. Doctoral Thesis (Doctoral). Bournemouth University.

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In the UK, the recruitment of international students and staff forms part of the internationalisation agenda, with the influx of international academic staff (IAS) to the UK being crucial to the economy, environment, and society; and the “presence of international faculty” (Rumbley and de Wit 2016, p.267) is key aspect of higher education especially in today’s global knowledge society. Current literature and research on IAS mobility and experience are limited, with evidence from policy and strategy documents at governmental and institutional level suggesting a similar trend. There remains much to be explored in understanding IAS’ experiences and adjustments, especially with regards to their identity/ies and sense of resilience, coping strategies, and/or initiatives taken in bettering themselves; all of which this research addresses through the Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis (IPA) methodology. Life as IAS can be multidimensional and challenging, with language barriers and accent associated issues causing IAS to question their position and cast doubt on their abilities and sense of adequacy as legitimate members in the academic field. In 2015, Darvin and Norton proposed the Model of Investment, with “ideology”, “capital”, and “identity” centred around Investment. In this research, the notion of “investment” is further understood in the form of an online self-directed Development Toolkit within the UK Higher Education Institution (HEI) setting, with IAS as the target group; and the interplay between their self-directed development initiatives in relation to the positive reconstruction of identity is framed within the Model of Investment. A deeper understanding and appreciation of IAS and their personal lived experiences, including their psychological establishments of sense of self, their motivation as well as their sense of confidence are fulfilled, through the IPA lens. Despite having to navigate through tough challenges, IAS have robust sense of self-esteem and assurance, strong sense of pride, positive sense of belonging, with high levels of confidence established through their subject expertise and global experience, professional role, and use of the target language with ease through time and reinforcements. Most notably, IAS are resilient, persistent, enterprising, and adaptable, employing coping strategies to adjust and thrive in their new environment. In minority cases, IAS also dedicate time, money, and efforts in professional development initiatives to further improve. The Development Toolkit (DT) exposes time as the biggest external barrier in professional development initiatives for IAS, even when clear benefits are noted. Professional development initiatives offered to IAS should be suited to their context, given time is limited with IAS juggling multiple workloads. They should be easily accessible, with clear overview and structure, and are embedded into their work timetable; and with self-directed but collaborative learning elements incorporated to encourage sustained engagement. They should also be tailored to individual learning needs and goals – when perceived value-added experience cannot be detected, participants’ engagement with the programmes also stops. Darvin and Norton’s Model of Investment also contributes to the understanding of IAS’ experience and engagement with the DT – their willingness to engage with the DT based on their position and identity; the barriers and the potential impact from dedicating time and efforts in the DT, and how some of the governing ideologies, systemic patterns of control and attainment to capitals shape their sense of agency, especially with regards to their learning in the target language and identity reconstruction. The use of Darvin and Norton’s Model of Investment (2015) as an analytical and important construct in understanding the interplay between IAS’ development initiatives and the positive reconstruction of identity has never been done before, making this research a new academic contribution to knowledge. The findings and the new angles of research discovered through this novel application of the Model of Investment offer new possibilities of its application in other new areas of focus.

Item Type:Thesis (Doctoral)
Uncontrolled Keywords:education
Group:Faculty of Media & Communication
ID Code:37992
Deposited By: Symplectic RT2
Deposited On:12 Jan 2023 16:11
Last Modified:12 Jan 2023 16:22


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