International Education Equity for Doctoral Students: Duoethnographic Reflections from China and Cameroon

Minghui Hou, Alma Jam
International Journal of Doctoral Studies  •  Volume 15  •  2020  •  pp. 759-786

In our reflexivity in this duoethnographic study, we aimed to identify and elicit the authentic voices, thoughts, and experiences of international students from China and Cameroon to explore international education equity’s complexities through the internationalization of curriculum in doctoral programs at U.S. institutions.

Many studies have addressed the need for education equity in terms of gender, age, and socioeconomic status. However, few studies have explored the complex tensions of international education equity for international graduate students as they relate to the internationalization of the curriculum in doctoral programs in the context of neonationalist political rhetoric.

A duoethnographic method was utilized to create dialogic narratives and provide multiple perspectives on a variety of topics across disciplines and forms of practices of one’s life history to act and give meaning to actions. As two researchers and international doctoral students from China and Cameroon, we conducted interviews and discussions to maintain an ongoing dialogue debriefing our experiences.

By focusing on the experiences as international doctoral students, this duoethnographic study encourages readers to recognize how different cultures, experiences, and needs reinforce and influence one another and the importance of ensuring education equity for international doctoral students’ success.

Three elements of international education equity were defined as authentic inclusion, differentiated teaching strategies and assessments, and individualized resources including but not limited to financial and cultural resources. Four prominent themes emerged related to international education equity for international doctoral students: (1) academic support related to teaching and learning strategies, assessments, language support, and mentorship; (2) financial support related to university funding and employment opportunities; (3) administrative support related to staff/faculty/community training on intercultural competence and training related complexities of visa status for international doctoral students; and (4) community support in the context of geopolitical tensions.

The findings highlight the need for research universities to address international doctoral students’ concerns, develop and innovate practices to ensure international education equity, and help international doctoral students to study in a safe and welcoming environment.

The findings suggest further critical research into the rationale of the difficulty in international education equity and the impact of equity in the curriculum and learning spaces of higher education through exploring the similarities and nuances between international doctoral students from China and Cameroon.

These findings aim to ensure international educational equity and to build a welcoming environment for international doctoral students through collaboration among education providers, policymakers, and the community.

Future research may use international educational equity to explore diverse international doctoral students’ experiences, needs, and challenges in studying at U.S. research universities, and how those experiences, needs, and challenges shift their mobility.

international education equity, curriculum internationalization, Chinese, Cameroon, current administration, academic, financial, community
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