Knott Mak Neill 2012 Developing global citizens through psychology curricula

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Historically, an overreliance on North American literature within the psychology curriculum has resulted in education founded upon principles of ethnocentrism. Such an approach is unlikely to produce culturally competent ‘global citizens’. The aim of the presentation is to demonstrate how a simple classbased activity, linked with an on-line forum, can facilitate an in-depth reflection on one’s own cultural connectedness.

We trialled this novel activity as an inclusive teaching practice as part of the ‘Internationalisation at Home’ Project funded by the Australian Learning and Teaching Council. Garvey (2008) argues that critical self-reflection is a necessary precursor to the development of cultural competence, as is required to work within and across cultures. Participants comprised Psychology 101 students who contributed to an on-line discussion forum. Students were asked to reflect upon an in-class introduction activity and to draw upon materials presented in Garvey (2008), including Dorothea Mackellar’s poem, My Country. International students were asked to share examples of poems, or other material, relevant to demonstrating connections with their own country or culture. Responses (N=125) were collated and subjected to thematic analysis. Results indicated that the majority of students (irrespective of cultural background) reported considerable anxiety when subjected to an in-class introduction activity. Students reflected upon a range of reasons for their anxiety; the most common response indicated a need for acceptance, or a desire to create a good first impression. Disclosure was linked with notions of trust/distrust, cultural rituals, context, and the development of friendships. Domestic students reported strong connections with Mackellar’s poem whilst international students shared insights into their own cultures. In conclusion, the activity was successful not only in increasing cultural awareness (of one’s own and others’ cultures) but also provided an introduction to engaging students with the elements that comprise the scientific study of psychology; that is, understanding how one’s attitudes and cultural beliefs can impact upon mental processes and behaviour.


Knott, V., Mak, A. S., & Neill, J. T. (2012). Developing global citizens through psychology curricula: Increasing cultural awareness of self and others through an on-line discussion forum. Paper presented at the 47th Annual Australian Psychological Society Conference, September 27 - 30, Perth, Australia.

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