Personal Epistemologies and Disciplinarity in the Workplace: Implications for International Students in Higher Education

Part of the Professional and Practice-based Learning book series (PPBL, volume 19)


Workplace experiences for international students undertaking higher education programmes are important aspects of their university experience. This is because many of the programmes in which they are enrolled are directed towards particular occupations. Nevertheless, these workplace experiences can be both engaging and daunting for all, but perhaps no more so than for international students, who may be unfamiliar with Australian workplace mores and practices, and therefore less able to understand and negotiate with them than their domestic counterparts. Not only do international students have to become familiar with the requirements of their selected profession but also need to understand and negotiate unfamiliar cultural environments. These students often have to engage in complex and demanding learning processes when engaging in work placements, perhaps more so than their domestic peers. Because of these discipline-based and workplace environmental challenges, it is necessary for these students and their mentors or supervisors to try and effectively mediate their participation and learning in the work placements. If all of those involved in work placements are aware of these factors, then the experiences and outcomes should potentially be more beneficial for all parties (i.e. students, supervisors, university staff, and workplaces). These issues are explored in this chapter through the notions of disciplinarity, which attends to the epistemological nuances of particular study or knowledge areas and how students develop skills as disciplinary professionals. With a focus on international students, the elaborations of these issues are explored through consideration of interculturalisation and how both the experiences and experiencing of international students impacts upon the success of their work placements. Using these concepts as explanatory bases stands to permit the illumination and elaboration of the complexity of factors and processes occurring as these students learn about, and participate in, their selected professional discipline and the cultural environment of its practice.


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University of Southern QueenslandSpringfield CentralAustralia
  2. 2.Griffith UniversityNathanAustralia

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