The IEREST focus groups
Work package 2 is drawing to an end. The virtual focus groups in September 2013 made up the final round of data collection of target groups’ needs. The most prominent and intriguing results from the student questionnaire were presented for comment to the participating teachers, officers, and students. In each case this sparked a stimulating exchange on how the IEREST intercultural paths could address both practical and more fundamental needs as experienced by each of the three target groups.
The teacher focus group
On 6 September 2013 Prue Holmes (University of Durham) and Jan Van Maele (University of Leuven) discussed the IEREST project with nine teachers of Intercultural Education & Communication in Higher Education. One of the issues discussed was the fact that some returning students had mentioned in the questionnaire a need to reflect on the intercultural experience, sometimes linking this to a willingness to act for change. The teachers in the focus group agreed that there is a need for creating space for students to tell their stories upon return because it is common that few people are interested in what they have to say. They also suggested several ways of encouraging students to reflect on the skills that they develop during their stay abroad and on how these skills can be made of use once back home. These suggestions were warmly welcomed by the IEREST partners and will certainly be taken into account in the design of the last module of the intercultural path, which is offered to students upon their return from their stay abroad.