Albany State Faculty Members Advance International Research

Staff Report From Albany CEO

Thursday, February 22nd, 2018

Albany State University faculty members have produced innovative research to advance the internationalization of curricula in education.

The International Research and Review research journal produced by Phi Beta Delta Honor Society for International Scholars, details varied strategic approaches for infusing intercultural and international competencies in course instruction.

“A critical measure of high academic quality in 21st century educational institutions is established through curriculum internationalization, said Nneka Nora Osakwe, the director of International Education and the project director for the Title III funded project on Internationalizing Existing Courses. “At this time, it is not just enough to theorize and talk about it; we must also show proof in writing what faculty members are doing in the classroom and the impact on student learning.”

Eight faculty members contributed to the journal’s special issue. In spring 2017, all eight professors presented their project outcomes to the campus community at a faculty symposium.

Faculty members that contributed to the journal include:

Osakwe, Ph.D.,  director of International Education and professor of English

Erica DeCuir, Ph.D., assistant professor of teacher education

Mimi Noda, Ph. D., associate professor of piano and professor for the ASU Foreign Language Institute

Florence Lyons, Ph.D., director of theVelma Fudge Grant Honors Program and professor of speech

Zephyrinus Okonkwo, Ph.D., director of the Center for Undergraduate Research and professor of mathematics

Candice Pitts, Ph.D., assistant professor of English

James Hill, Ph. D., chair of the department of English, Modern Languages and Mass Communication and professor of English

The journal articles address the gap in academic scholarship related to internationalizing principles that will impact students’ general learning outcomes. The publication is proof of years of effort by ASU faculty to diversify and improve quality of student learning outcome. The articles embody historical and pedagogical information that could be replicated at other institutions in various fields, including communication, English composition and literature, music, K-12 education, and mathematics.

One of the articles depicts a unique approach by Okonkwo to incorporate discussions of major world currencies in teaching mathematical problems and addressing the Mathematics of Compound Interest and world trade related issues. Students also discussed financial institutions in Europe, Asia, Africa and the Americas and acknowledged how those institutions played common roles in various counties. Group presentations allowed students to research economic and financial institutions such as the importing and exporting of products in countries such as Nigeria, Spain, China and the U.S.

“This course could be internationalized since every nation or society is endowed with continuous economic activities,” Okonkwo said. “Deeper understanding of global economic interactions and economic relationships between countries is very important to students, and infusing international perspectives in this course have wider impact on students enrolled in the course. Their career paths are widened, their skills and competences enhanced and their understanding of the world we live in deepened.”

Decuir strategically revised the syllabus and content in a course for pre-service teachers enrolled in the early childhood education program. The revised course content incorporated international learning outcomes that addressed cultural diversity, culturally-responsive teaching practices and lesson planning.

“My research article underscores the importance of curriculum internationalization in teacher education,” Decuir said. “As teacher educators, our role is to prepare new teachers to meet the academic and developmental needs of diverse learners--including immigrant and international learners. We cannot adequately serve all student populations by excluding those students who come to us from around the world. My article offers practical guidance for teacher educators interested in curriculum internationalization and classroom teachers who view themselves as citizens of the world.”

International and intercontinental exposure through courses benefits students, Osakwe said, especially those who may not have the opportunity to study abroad.

“ASU is at the forefront of publishing what faculty members are doing in curriculum internationalization,” Osakwe said. “There are many publications with information on internationalizing the curriculum on campuses, but not many about what faculty actually do in the classroom. You see lots of publications that talk about what should be done or about principles.”

Faculty members submitted proposals and were given small stipends to implement their proposals in one year and to continue teaching their revised courses after the project. Before implementation, they were engaged in professional development, which involved revising the syllabus using guidelines and resources from articles, participation in sessions or workshops on curriculum internationalization, implementing new content and sharing outcomes.

Osakwe hopes the publication will encourage more faculty members at ASU and other institutions to replicate and improve on strategies detailed by the authors. The journal will also serve as a method of sharing valuable tools to advance internationalization strategies that impact the quality of student learning outcome.

“That’s exactly what scholarship is all about; it involves researching, reviewing, modifying content and pedagogy, impacting learning, and sharing outcome through publication. It’s not just about teaching in the classroom,” Osakwe said. “We should be able to share some of the research and some of the pedagogical practices and learning outcomes with our colleagues and the world.”