Using Internationalization-at-Home activities to enhance the cultural awareness of health and social science research students: A multi-method study

Doris Y Leung, Christine Kumelin, Melanie Bish, Elisabeth Carlson, Pui Sze Chan, Engle Angela Chan

Research output: Journal article publicationJournal articleAcademic researchpeer-review


Despite healthcare scholars valuing diversity, current cultural awareness training does not address mechanisms that drive societal patterns, that generates cultural insensitivity and reinforces stereotypes of minority groups. The influence of culture on thinking is an important issue because of potential ethnocentric biases on the design, data collection, analysis, and dissemination of research.

Using internationalization-at-home activities to explore the mechanisms that enhance the development of cultural awareness in postgraduate health and social science research students.

Design and methods
A pragmatic critical realist study, qualitatively dominant, using mixed-methods to integrate and analyze qualitative and quantitative data. Data were collected pre- and post-internationalization-at-home activities. Qualitative data were collected from online discussion forums and focus groups, and quantitative data were collected from a pre-test and post-test measure of cultural awareness.

Setting and participants
Eighteen research students in postgraduate health and social science programs from three universities (Australia, Hong Kong, and Sweden) participated in five formal internationalization-at-home webinars and informal international group activities.

Participants reported four mechanisms counteracting structures (i.e., ethnocentric biases) toward the emergence of cultural awareness: 1. awareness of cultural issues motivating people toward achieving a common goal; 2. reflexivity within psychological safety; 3. deliberations that challenge the veracity of individual assumptions; 4. courage coupled with curiosity. When some or all the mechanisms occurred, properties of enhanced cultural awareness emerged, as confirmed by the quantitative data.

Cultural awareness training should emphasize social relations to allow cultural safety to develop for postgraduate health and social science research students. Without skills revealing unconsciously held ethical values, this study argues that postgraduate health and social science students may inadvertently reconstitute and reinforce in their research the discrimination of underserved groups.
Original languageEnglish
Article number104851
JournalNurse Education Today
Issue number100
Publication statusPublished - 2021

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