Bridges and Barriers: Learning Experiences from an International Research Project

By Karolina Parding, Krister Hertting, Eva Alerby and Jill Brown.

Published by The Learner Collection

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Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

This paper is based on experiences gained from working in a collaborative project, between researchers from a university in Sweden and a university in Australia. The overall aim of the paper is to illuminate and discuss learning experiences of working in an international research project in a global context. The key research questions explored in the paper are: (i) which bridges and barriers are identified as critical aspects for collaboration? (ii) how can our experiences be understood in the light of theories on learning? In order to answer the posed research questions, members of the research team have conducted written reflections, which provide the empirical foundation for this paper. We use Wenger’s theory of communities of practice as a theoretical point of department. The analysis of the empirical materials, the written reflections, resulted in four themes; Choice of partner(s), The meaning of personal encounters, Encounter between different academic cultures, and the issue of languages. As conclusions, we want to emphasis that boundary-breaking encounters that take place in a research project like this are challenging, but at the same time, they provide opportunities for new and rich understandings of research. We have found that to create a community of practice in which new and rich understandings of research can be accomplished is challenging, much due to the issue of geographical, cultural, and linguistic distance.

Keywords: Learning, Cross-cultural Research Projects, Communities of Practice, Reflective Diaries

The International Journal of Learning, Volume 18, Issue 8, pp.285-294. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 1.016MB).

Dr. Karolina Parding

Associate Professor, Department of Human Work Science, Luleå University of Technology, Luleå, Norrbotten, Sweden

Dr. Karolina Parding is a sociologist, with her main focus on professions and working conditions among professionals, in particular teachers. She completed her Master of Philosophy in 2003 from Cambridge University, Newnham College. Subsequently, she went on to complete her doctoral studies, which she finished in 2007. In her doctoral studies, she presented a study on upper secondary teachers’ working conditions. Having studied teachers’ working conditions in the public sector, her focus has now broadened to include the independent sector as well as professions such as nursing and social work. In additon, she is currently involved in a research project focusing on learning in Indigenous contexts (Austalia-Aboriginals and Sweden-Sami).

Dr. Krister Hertting

Post Doctorial Research Fellow, Department of Education, Luleå University of Technology, Luleå, Norrbotten, Sweden

Krister Hertting is a senior lecturer in Education at Luleå University of Technology, Sweden. His main research focus is on learning, culture, and identity issues, mostly in connection to leisure time, e.g. competitive sport. Hertting is currently doing research on learning and psychosocial well-being among mainstream and indigenous children, sport and cultural identity, and youth identity and doping.

Prof. Eva Alerby

Professor, Department of Education, Luleå University of Technology, Luleå, Norrbotten, Sweden

Eva Alerby is a professor in Education at Luleå University of Technology, Sweden. Her main research interests focus on teaching and learning, and more specifically, on people’s experiences of different phenomenons within the educational sphere. Currently, Alerby is working with a development and research project concerning learning and psychosocial well-being among mainstream and indigenous children and youth. In addition to this, Alerby is interested in research within the field of philosophy of education.

Jill Brown

Senior Lecturer, Faculty of Education, Monash University, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia

Jill Brown is a senior lecturer in the Faculty of Education at Monash University. She is currently involved in shared research with colleagues in Sweden, Hong Kong and New Zealand including a study of the issues involved in international collaboration. Jill is also part of an on-going international study of children’s understandings of Indigenous identity. Other research interests include varying aspects of English to Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) teacher work including beginning teacher identity construction and ESOL teacher work in a range of different contexts and the impact of language study abroad programs on learner identity.

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