A1 Journal article (refereed)
Overcoming Essentialism? Students’ Reflections on Learning Intercultural Communication Online (2022)

Kokkonen, L., Jager, R., Frame, A., & Raappana, M. (2022). Overcoming Essentialism? Students’ Reflections on Learning Intercultural Communication Online. Education Sciences, 12(9), Article 579. https://doi.org/10.3390/educsci12090579

JYU authors or editors

Publication details

All authors or editors: Kokkonen, Lotta; Jager, Romée; Frame, Alexander; Raappana, Mitra

Journal or series: Education Sciences

eISSN: 2227-7102

Publication year: 2022

Publication date: 24/08/2022

Volume: 12

Issue number: 9

Article number: 579

Publisher: MDPI AG

Publication country: Switzerland

Publication language: English

DOI: https://doi.org/10.3390/educsci12090579

Publication open access: Openly available

Publication channel open access: Open Access channel

Publication is parallel published (JYX): https://jyx.jyu.fi/handle/123456789/82855


The fields of intercultural communication (IC) and intercultural education are in flux and the paradigmatic shift is away from essentialist approaches on culture and interculturality towards seeing IC and interculturality as flexible, fluid, contradictory, political, and ideological constructs. This study presents a virtual exchange project, a joint introductory course on IC between a Finnish university and a French university. One of the objectives of the course was to provide students with a more critical, non-essentialist perspective on interculturality. This study presents an analysis of 32 students’ texts (learning logs) that are processed qualitatively using content analysis to find answers to questions of (1) how students make sense of their experience of learning IC through multilingual online interactions, and (2) how different approaches on culture and interculturality are reflected in students’ leaning logs. The learning logs are written by participants during their six-week learning experience. The findings indicate that students gained confidence in interacting with people from diverse backgrounds and using multiple languages. How students reacted to and reflected on the more critical perspective on interculturality varied greatly, with many learning logs seeming to juggle between different approaches. The online environment was considered a major source of concern prior and at the beginning of the course, but as the course progressed it did not represent a barrier within the documented experiences. Our analysis aims to help teachers of IC to better address the needs of different learners. We also discuss the challenges and possibilities of a multilingual intercultural virtual exchange with a view to creating safe and motivating spaces for teaching and learning about interculturality.

Keywords: interaction; intercultural interaction; interculturalism; multiculturalism; studies in an institution of higher education; higher education (teaching)

Free keywords: interculturality; student accounts; teaching–learning; non-essentialist approach; critical thinking; higher education; virtual exchange

Contributing organizations

Ministry reporting: Yes

Reporting Year: 2022

Preliminary JUFO rating: 1

Last updated on 2023-10-01 at 12:24