On positionalities in research with international students

Authors

  • Vera Spangler University of Surrey

DOI:

https://doi.org/10.32674/jis.v14i3.6090

Keywords:

researcher positionalities, international students, reflexivity, student positionalities, qualitative research

Abstract

In this paper, I argue that if we want to further strengthen the current direction towards more innovative and critical methodological research designs in research with international students, we must engage more deeply and meaningfully with our own positionalities as researchers. In order to build a more accurate portrayal of our participants – international students, we must begin to acknowledge the dynamic multiplicity and situational understandings of positionalities and move away from monolithic and ascriptive presentation statements (e.g., nationality, age, gender). A critical appreciation of positionality helps us to develop a reflexivity that enhances the methodological strength of our research approaches and, considering the lack of nuance in many conceptions of international students, generate empirical material with international students that (more) faithfully represent their experiences and worlds. This, hopefully, allows us to counter inequalities in practice and move away from positions of deficit and problematic discourses and assumptions.

Author Biography

Vera Spangler, University of Surrey

VERA SPANGLER is a PhD student in the Department of Sociology at the University of Surrey, UK. Trained as an educational anthropologist, she explores how education, learning, and knowledge are negotiated and managed in everyday life in different contexts – across national and cultural boundaries. She uses relational approaches to understand space, place, and time, taking special interest in creative, participatory methodology. Email: v.spangler@surrey.ac.uk

References

Bourdieu, P. (1990). The logic of practice. Cambridge: Polity

De Andrade, L. L. (2000). Negotiating from the inside. Constructing racial and ethnic identity in qualitative research Journal of Contemporary Ethnography 29(3 ), 268-290. https://doi.org/https://doi.org/10.1177/089124100129023918

Delamont, S. (2009). The only honest thing: autoethnography, reflexivity and small crises in fieldwork. Ethnography and Education, 4(1), 51-63. https://doi.org/10.1080/17457820802703507

Deuchar, A. (2022). The problem with international students' ‘experiences’ and the promise of their practices: Reanimating research about international students in higher education. British Educational Research Journal, 48(3), 504-518. https://doi.org/10.1002/berj.3779

Folkes, L. (2022). Moving beyond ‘shopping list’ positionality: Using kitchen table reflexivity and in/visible tools to develop reflexive qualitative research. Qualitative Research. https://doi.org/10.1177/14687941221098922

Forbes-Mewett, H. (2020). Vulnerability and Resilience in a Mobile World. Journal of International Students, 10(3), ix-xi. https://doi.org/10.32674/jis.v10i3.2002

Heng, T. T. (2018). Different is not deficient: contradicting stereotypes of Chinese international students in US higher education. Studies in Higher Education, 43(1), 22-36. https://doi.org/10.1080/03075079.2016.1152466

Hsieh, J. K.-T. (2018). Positioning the researcher in the studies of international student identities. Journal of International Students 8(2), 659-676. https://doi.org/10.5281/zenodo.1250368

Hult, F. M. (2013). Covert Bilingualism and Symbolic Competence: Analytical Reflections on Negotiating Insider/Outsider Positionality in Swedish Speech Situations. Applied Linguistics, 35(1), 63-81. https://doi.org/10.1093/applin/amt003

Kaya, J. (2020). Inside the International Student World. Journal of International Students, 10(1), 124-144. https://doi.org/10.32674/jis.v10i1.1031

Larsen, M. (2016). Internationalization of Higher Education: An Analysis through Spatial, Network, and Mobilities Theories. Palgrave Macmillan. https://doi.org/10.1057/978-1-137-53345-6

Lillyman, S., & Bennett, C. (2014). Providing a positive learning experience for international students studying at UK universities: A literature review. Journal of Research in International Education, 13(1), 63-75. https://doi.org/10.1177/1475240914529859

Lomer, S., & Mittelmeier, J. (2021). Mapping the research on pedagogies with international students in the UK: a systematic literature review. Teaching in Higher Education, 1-21. https://doi.org/10.1080/13562517.2021.1872532

Madden, R. (2017). Being Ethnographic: A Guide to the Theory and Practice of Ethnography. https://doi.org/10.4135/9781529716689

Massey, D. (2005). For space. SAGE.

Mittelmeier, J., Lomer, S., & Unkule, K. (2023). Research with International Students. Critical Conceptual and Methodological Considerations. Routledge. https://doi.org/https://doi.org/10.4324/9781003290803

Moon, C. Y., Zhang, S., Larke, P., & James, M. (2020). We Are Not All the Same. Journal of International Students, 10(1), 28-49. https://doi.org/10.32674/jis.v10i1.770

Mullings, B. (1999). Insider or outsider, both or neither: some dilemmas of interviewing in a cross-cultural setting. Geoforum, 30(1999). https://doi.org/10.1016/S0016-7185(99)00025-1

Ploner, J. (2017). Resilience, Moorings and International Student Mobilities – Exploring Biographical Narratives of Social Science Students in the UK. Mobilities, 12(3), 425-444. https://doi.org/10.1080/17450101.2015.1087761

Reyes, V. (2018). Ethnographic toolkit: Strategic positionality and researchers’ visible and invisible tools in field research. Ethnography, 21(2), 220-240. https://doi.org/10.1177/1466138118805121

Robertson, J. E. (2002). Reflexivity Redux: A Pithy Polemic on "Positionality". Anthropological Quarterly, 75(4), 785-792. https://doi.org/10.1353/anq.2002.0066

Spangler, V. (2022). Home here and there: a spatial perspective on mobile experiences of ‘home’ among international students. Social & Cultural Geography, 1-18. https://doi.org/10.1080/14649365.2022.2065698

Torres‐Olave, B., & Lee, J. J. (2020). Shifting positionalities across international locations: Embodied knowledge, time‐geography, and the polyvalence of privilege. Higher Education Quarterly, 74(2), 136-148. https://doi.org/10.1111/hequ.12216

Downloads

Published

2023-09-11

How to Cite

Spangler, V. (2023). On positionalities in research with international students. Journal of International Students, 13(4), 234–239. https://doi.org/10.32674/jis.v14i3.6090