Creating Non-Traditional Multicultural Learning Environments through Cultural Exchange

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Didactic teaching strategies confined to the university setting have traditionally been used to impart knowledge to learners. Experiential approaches provide opportunities for learners to have direct exposure to and active involvement in learning. Optimal learning environments for acquiring personal competence occur in settings where both didactic and experiential strategies are used.. Cognitive, affective and behavioral domains of learning have been associated with the development of critical thinking skills that foster personal and professional competence (Toporek & Reza, 2001). In addition, exposure to a variety of learning experiences provides continual opportunities for self-reflection and growth aimed toward the development of personal and multicultural competencies.
This paper describes an experiential model for developing and implementing a rich experience of cultural exchange between learners in the United States and learners in South Africa. Learners are viewed as graduate students and educational practitioners in the K-12 community. The major goal of the cultural exchange is to create learning environments in which learners experience on-going opportunities to directly experience society from a different socio-cultural context. Through lived experiences, learners challenge beliefs and assumptions, and develop critical thinking skills as part of their development of personal and professional competence. This research-focused paper will present examples of how learners participating in the cultural exchange between the United States and South Africa demonstrate greater personal and professional competencies in their lives and workplace.


Keywords: Personal Competence, Professional Competence, Multicultural Competence, Multicultural Learning Environment, Cultural Exchange
Stream: Teacher Training and Professional Development
Presentation Type: 30 minute Paper Presentation in English
Paper: Creating Non-Traditional Multicultural Learning Environments Through Cultural Exchange, ,


Dr. Darren Clarke

Executive Director, Rutgers Graduate School of Education, Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey
New Brunswick, New Jersey, USA

My interest in multicultural learning has focused on the development and implementation of cultural exchange programs between United States graduate students and educational leaders and diverse countries. My domestic work includes providing professional development programs for teachers and educational leaders in the K-12 community in New Jersey. In collaboration with graduate faculty, my office conducts conferences and offers course work leading to graduate degrees.

Dr. Saundra Tomlinson-Clarke

Associate Professor, Graduate School of Education, Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey
New Brunswick, New Jersey, USA

My research program focuses on multicultural training models, with a particular interests in cultural immersion as an experiential training tool for developing cultural competencies in learners.

Ref: L09P1335