Leveraging on cultural diversity to design higher education programs
Degl'Innocenti, Fiamma (2020)
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As part of the Enhance! IDM project, the purpose of this thesis was to create a framework for higher education program leaders and teaching staff to develop their intercultural knowledge in order to understand the expectations of a culturally diverse student audience and use appropriate tools to design education programs that provide high quality, inclusive for learning opportunities for all. The theoretical part discussed three different subjects. Firstly, it provided different definitions of culture as well as an overview on the most acknowledged theories in the cross-cultural study landscape. Secondly, it delved into theories on service quality, which in academia is widely referred to as a key driver to foster competitive advantage and thus as a very important subject that organisations need to understand in order to deliver user-centred solutions. Thirdly, this report pulled together different theories illustrating design thinking as a creative problem-solving process whose iterative and collaborative nature is to develop innovative, user-centred solutions for their users. To conclude the analysis, the above-mentioned theories were summarised into a conceptual framework that was named “The cultural diversity design framework”. Following the theoretical section, the approach used to address the case study drew from the service design discipline to outline a three-phase process and define a selection of methods that were utilized to investigate the research questions. Among these, an online survey, user journey and qualitative interviews, personas, co-creation were utilised. The synthesis and analysis of the findings gathered in the first phase of the process resulted in the identification of two cultural clusters, that acted as the foundation to create personas, and of patterns among service expectations. These patterns were then rephrased and summarised into 6 key insights, or focus points, that served as the basis for the Enhance! IDM co-creation workshop that followed. The four most promising ideas generated during the workshop were then synthesized, refined, and delivered to the Enhance! IDM team which will leverage on them to define the content of the toolbox by March 2020. By opening a new discussion on the relation among the three presented theories and proposing a framework that puts them into a system, this report gives its contribution to the academic debate. The author argues that by exploring different methodologies or adapting the framework to industry-specific studies, future research should focus on deepening the analysis on the relation among these theories.