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Durham University

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IntRef Project: Intercultural Reflection on Teaching

A research project of the School of Education, part of the International and Comparative Education research group.

Erasmus+ Key Action 2 - Cooperation for Innovation and the Exchange of Good Practices: Key Action 203 - Strategic Partnerships for higher education

For more information, please visit the project website at

The project

This project provides academics with transnational professional development opportunities and academic developers and managers with innovative intercultural methods they can use to enhance approaches to reflection. This is done by developing and investigating methods for intercultural reflection on teaching, practical resources, tools and networks.

Academics will be involved in transnational virtual meetings during which they discuss and reflect on each other’s teaching, facilitated by video-conferencing, film and other digital tools. The intercultural element intends to stimulate participants to make explicit what they normally take for granted, consider alternative perspectives and gain insight into approaches and practices used in different national, institutional, departmental and disciplinary cultures.

The following methods will be developed:

Intercultural Reflecting Team applies models of collegial co-supervision. Academics provide problems encountered during teaching which are discussed by a transnational group facilitated by video-conferencing. The ‘provider’ of the situation learns from observing others discussing their problem.

Intercultural Teaching Process recall is based on principles of action learning and self-assessment. Academics film and review their own teaching and share an excerpt during a mutually supportive transnational meeting facilitated by video-conferencing. The ‘recaller’ takes ownership of the discussion, during which the other participants help them to reflect rather than making judgments.

Intercultural Peer Observation takes its lead from classroom observation practices. Academics film their own teaching and form transnational pairs in which recordings are shared and disused in a one-to-one synchronous virtual chat.

These methods will be embedded in local contexts. Initially they will be trialled between the partners, with each taking responsibility for one method, implemented bi-nationally first, then tri-nationally, resulting in a technological toolkit and a walk-through guide/manual. These will be used at national events during which academic developers/managers are trained in using the methods and helped to establish transnational partnerships. The project team will support the partnerships to implement the methods, whilst continuing to use them with each other as well as additional external collaborators. Case studies will investigate implementation of the methods; teaching practices and problems discussed during the reflective activities will be captured in a learning resource which will offer a snapshot of university teaching from around the world. The project will culminate in an international event to disseminate all outputs and establish a sustainable ‘Intercultural Community of Reflective Practice’. This will build on existing partnerships, create new links and contribute to the project’s sustainability.


The quality and professionalisation of teaching in higher education is of increasing concern, while academic development provision varies considerably between countries, institutions, disciplines and departments. The importance of reflection for the enhancement of teaching is well documented. By doing so, the project aims to make a contribution to the internationalisation of academicdevelopment which has a tendency to focus on national and institutional concerns, while academics have to be increasingly mobile. Its innovation lies in the intercultural and transnational dimension.

The project will enhance participating academics’ intercultural competence, self-efficacy and teaching skills. Academic developers will expand their methodological repertoire and access to transnational partnerships. Overall the project will impact on teaching quality and the internationalisation of approaches to academic development.


  1. To enhance and internationalise academic development by implementing and evaluating a range of innovative methods for reflecting on teaching which incorporate an intercultural dimension
  2. To enhance teaching quality in higher education by supporting academics to transfer insights gained from the reflective activities to develop their teaching practice
  3. To develop international collaborative networks by linking academics and academic developers across national, institutional, departmental and disciplinary boundaries

The project team

Durham University, UK:

Goethe University, Frankfurt, Germany:

University of Padova, Italy:

 Associated Partners

  • Università LUMSA di Roma, Italy
  • Technische Universität, Darmstadt, Germany
  • Council for At Risk Academics (Cara), UK
  • Tallinna Ülikool, Estonia
  • La Trobe University, Melbourne, Australia

Advisory Group:



Technological Toolkit

A user-friendly video and web-based guide to technologies which will fit local infrastructures and can be employed to facilitate intercultural reflection on teaching.

Walk-through guide & manual

An interactive resource providing a rationale for intercultural reflection on teaching, informed by a literature review, and step-by-step instructions for each method, templates, handouts and examples, in order to enable others to use these methods. 

Case studies

Investigations of how intercultural reflection on teaching is received, used and adapted in the partner institutions and what is going on during the reflective sessions, in order to understand contextual and cultural variation, barriers, opportunities and what has been learnt through participating.

Learning interculturally about teaching

An audio-visual learning resource aimed at academics who teach, with ‘hot topics’ and critical incidents offering a snapshot of teaching practices from across the world based on the reflections generated through participating in this project coupled with learning activities.


Workshops in Durham, Frankfurt and Padova

  • Training for academic developers and mangers in using the intercultural reflective methods:
    • Discussion of the role and purpose of intercultural reflection on teaching
    • Live demonstration of the intercultural reflective methods
    • Training to use the methods, materials and technologies
    • Making links with partners in other countries
    • Planning and support for implementation

International conference at Durham University, UK

Disseminating, debating and maintaining project outcomes:

  • Papers and round tables by collaborators on the implementation in their contexts
  • Forum for transnational partnerships to strengthen links, networking and formation of new partnerships, linking with academics in exile
  • Contextualisation in wider debates about e.g. the role of reflection, academic mobility, the internationalisation of academic development.
  • Establishment of a sustainable ‘Intercultural Community of Reflective Practice’ built on existing and new transnational links




From the School of Education

From other departments