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The 2013/2014 NTNU Diversity Projects

All of the following projects will be briefly presented and discussed as part of the Diversity Conference held in Trondheim 16-17 September 2014.
Title: On the impact of student friendship on language development
Project leader: Ute Gabriel, Department of Psychology, NTNU
Ute’s title describes the project well. She has collected detailed survey-based data from 400 students and analyzed it for same-group and other-group interactions, with groups defined by Scandinavian and non-Scandinavian language users.  She then did a second survey and analyzed for the frequency and depth of contact, specifically who students chose to be close or ‘best’ friends with.  She found that students almost never made close relationships across languages.  Student groups remained isolated along language lines.  Ute will present this data in a workshop and get students to respond to findings and consider ways they might change this pattern and the benefits for doing so.  She will also make good practice guidelines for teachers.
Benefits to NTNU of this project: documented evidence of the common self-isolating behavior of students.  Documented evidence of the need for active facilitation of cross-language and cross-cultural encounters.  Examples of reflective investigation of student experience.  Guidelines for good practice.
Title: Redesign of introductory course to support international MSc in Biology
Project leader: Tor Jørgen Almaas, Department of Biology, NTNU
Tor has identified the problems and issues that are common amongst starting masters students, including those from outside Norway. He has created a model
For the first few weeks’ work and wishes to use it to redesign the program, assessment, goals and experiences of students for use in August 2014.  A key change is to design the week around the need to create a research plan and to do so interactively using the Experts in Team model, modified for Biology.  The issues still to be resolved are the detailed plan for the week and how best to introduce the changes to celleagues through training, professional development activities, and careful choice of group leaders. 
Benefits to NTNU of this project:  This is an important case study.  Tor has made significant changes in how he thinks about the students’ learning needs, about their diverse backgrounds, and finding a discipline-specific and local solution.  He will need to evaluate carefully and then NTNU needs to listen to his findings as there will be many transferable lessons from this example. 
Title: Redesign of the Experts in Team’s training and raising awareness of cultural and language diversity in
Project leader: Nina Haugland Andersen
Nina has read, drafted and had feedback on a revised training document.  She will complete by December.  Feedback from peer project managers stressed the need for care to avoid stereotyping and generalizations and the need to stress the learning benefits, especially the opportunities to make students more context-aware and more open to seeing differences in solutions, approaches, etc. 
Benefits to NTNU of this project:  The EiT is a unique arena for addressing diversity issues and those who lead EiT ‘villages’ are already experienced in encouraging cross-discipline interaction. The course is huge in the numbers it includes and significant in offering scope for inclusion and skills development.  There is scope for using the lessons in other parts of the university and in dissemination of findings.
Title: An investigation of Experts in Team for issues of diversity and inclusion involving culturally and linguistically diverse students
Project leader: Bjørn Sortland
This is an integrated study asking several ‘international village’ leaders and assistants to watch for and record issues.  This will allow Bjørn to approach future training activities with a more robust evidence base, compared to the anecdotal evidence he currently holds. The study will look for patterns, priorities and key issues as they emerge.
Benefits:  see above, plus offering NTNU a model for future changes to enhance diversity.
Title: Supporting academic writing across the university
Project leader: Nancy Lea Eik-Nes
Nancy is interviewing a large number of department academics about needs for writing, has run several one-off events which have reached 120 students in a brief exchange of ideas and skill support.  So far, her work has been in Social Sciences and Humanities.  The need is huge and extends to doctoral students, writing in the disciplines, on-going and progressive support and getting writing into people’s thinking about teaching in their discipline.  Strategic plans for making this happen remain under discussion.
Benefits to NTNU of this project:  Proposals for the creation of a writing center that can best meet declared needs.