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Marianne Teräs

2007 (November)
Price 30 €
ISBN 952-10-3651-4 (pbk)
ISBN 952-10-3652-1 (PDF)

University of Helsinki
Department of Education

Helsinki University Press

Marianne Teräs

The number of immigrant students in vocational education and training is steadily increasing in Finland. This poses challenges for teachers and schools. This research focuses on emerging questions of intercultural learning in the context of immigrant training, and on a method – the Culture Laboratory – that was developed in an attempt to respond to the challenges. The main methodological and theoretical framework lies in cultural-historical activity theory, developmental work research, and in the concepts of the intercultural and hybridity. The empirical material consists of videotaped recordings of discussions in the Culture Laboratory.

The five main research questions focused on the strengths and limitations of the Culture Laboratory as a tool for intercultural learning, the significance of disturbances in it, the potential of suggestions for intercultural learning, ‘paper’ as a mediating artifact , and the concept of intercultural space.

The findings showed that the Culture Laboratory offered a solid background for developing intercultural learning. The disturbances manifested revealed a multitude of scripts and activities. It was also suggested that the structure of expansive learning could start from externalization instead of internalization. The suggestions the participants made opened up a hybrid learning space for intercultural development, and offered a good springboard for new ideas. Learning in ‘Paperland’ posed both challenges and opportunities for immigrant students, and different paper trails emerged. Intercultural space in the Culture Laboratory was a developmental zone in which a hybrid process of observing, comparing, and creating took place.

Keywords: intercultural learning, immigrant training, cultural-historical activity theory, developmental work research

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