Students as multicultural and multilingual influencers
This Students as Partners microgrant project was completed in 2022 in collaboration between the Faculty of Arts and Education (School of Education and School of Humanities and Social Sciences) and four undergraduate student partners.
Placing student voice at the centre of their higher education experience, this project aimed to gain comprehensive insight into the lived experiences of multilingual and multicultural undergraduate students from regional areas.
By foregrounding students as language learners and language users as key grassroots policy and curriculum actors, this project sought to amplify their voices by articulating and sharing their lived multilingual and multicultural experiences in their educational and social communities.
|Student partners||Academic partners|
Notes from the Project Team
A/Prof Michiko Weinmann | Education (Languages Education) School of Education
The Students as Partners program is a unique opportunity to collaborate with students and colleagues beyond your immediate school or faculty context. You gain a fresh perspective on a topic that is important to you, and many others in the university, and a sense of connection. The logistics of a student as partner project require a high level of focus and motivation on the team’s part. But that is what makes seeing the project outcomes take shape such a highly rewarding process
What were the project aims?
The aim of the project was to explore how students in regional and lower socio-economic areas engage with everyday lived linguistic and cultural diversity in their education and social communities.
Four undergraduate students who identify as language learners and/or users of two or more languages were recruited as student partners to capture student perspectives and generate new insights about pedagogy and practice that is inclusive and considerate of linguistic diversity in Higher Education.
The project gained insight into how multilingual students understand experiences of everyday linguistic and cultural diversity in the university, and how they engage with the benefits and challenges of language and cultural diversity in their educational context.
The project also explored what students perceived as the challenges, tensions and power imbalances underpinning perspectives on linguistic and cultural diversity in their educational and social communities. Students shared and discussed a range of ideas and suggestions that could be explored and integrated in current Higher Education policy, pedagogy, curriculum, and practice for a more linguistically diverse, equitable and inclusive university.
Stage One: Focus groups
All four student partners began with reflection sessions facilitated by the academic project team, sharing their language learning experiences, and everyday lived experiences of linguistic and cultural diversity.
Based on these conversations, student partners, in collaboration with academic leads, recruited, developed and facilitated six peer focus group interviews (via Zoom) with undergraduate students across a range of Faculties. The focus groups included one student partner and one academic lead as co-facilitators, and 1-3 focus group participants per session. Focus group participants represented a range of disciplines, including education, languages, psychology, cybersecurity, law, and sports and exercise science. Participants included both domestic and international students, who were at different stages in their courses, ranging from first year to fourth year Honours students.
Stage Two: Data analysis and video production
In the next stage of the project, student partners identified key themes from the focus group discussions and started story-boarding videos to showcase their findings.
Student partners decided to develop a series of short videos which would capture and highlight key impressions and messages from the focus group interviews. They collaborated with a professional videographer to develop scripts for thematic videos, and filmed individual segments on their phones and iPads. A half-day of filming took place at the Deakin Burwood campus with the video company, which then collated and edited the various video-recordings.
Excerpts from the scripts that student partners produced
Something that was expressed by many of the focus group participants is that the ability to speak another language, the decision to learn a language really helps to create a connection with others throughout the world. It shows respect for the place that you are visiting as a guest.
There hasn’t been a more important and vital time to learn a language in this modern day where we’re all connected through phones, and the opportunity to become accustomed with any culture in the world is just a click away.