Albany State faculty members advance international research

Innovative classroom strategies
promote intercultural and global learning

ALBANY, Ga. – Albany State University (ASU) faculty members have produced innovative research to advance the internationalization of curricula in education.

The International Research and Review (IRR) research journal produced by Phi Beta Delta Honor Society for International Scholars, details varied strategic approaches for infusing intercultural and international competencies in course instruction.

“A critical measure of high academic quality in 21st century educational institutions is established through curriculum internationalization, said Nneka Nora Osakwe, the director of International Education and the project director for the Title III funded project on Internationalizing Existing Courses. “At this time, it is not just enough to theorize and talk about it; we must also show proof in writing what faculty members are doing in the classroom and the impact on student learning.”

Eight faculty members contributed to the journal’s special issue. In spring 2017, all eight professors presented their project outcomes to the campus community at a faculty symposium.

Faculty members that contributed to the journal include:

  • Osakwe, Ph.D., director of International Education and professor of English
  • Erica DeCuir, Ph.D., assistant professor of teacher education
  • Mimi Noda, D.M., associate professor of piano and professor for the ASU Foreign Language Institute
  • Dorene Medlin, Ed.D, assistant professor of middle grades education
  • Florence Lyons, Ph.D., director of theVelma Fudge Grant Honors Program and professor of speech
  • Zephyrinus Okonkwo, Ph.D., director of the Center for Undergraduate Research and professor of mathematics
  • Candice Pitts, Ph.D., assistant professor of English
  • James Hill, Ph. D., chair of the department of English, Modern Languages and Mass Communication and professor of English

The journal articles address the gap in academic scholarship related to internationalizing principles that will impact students’ general learning outcomes. The publication is proof of years of effort by ASU faculty to diversify and improve quality of student learning outcome. The articles embody historical and pedagogical information that could be replicated at other institutions in various fields, including communication, English composition and literature, music, K-12 education, and mathematics.

One of the articles depicts a unique approach by Okonkwo to incorporate discussions of major world currencies in teaching mathematical problems and addressing the Mathematics of Compound Interest and world trade related issues. Students also discussed financial institutions in Europe, Asia, Africa and the Americas and acknowledged how those institutions played common roles in various counties. Group presentations allowed students to research economic and financial institutions such as the importing and exporting of products in countries such as Nigeria, Spain, China and the U.S.

“This course could be internationalized since every nation or society is endowed with continuous economic activities,” Okonkwo said. “Deeper understanding of global economic interactions and economic relationships between countries is very important to students, and infusing international perspectives in this course have wider impact on students enrolled in the course. Their career paths are widened, their skills and competences enhanced and their understanding of the world we live in deepened.”

Decuir strategically revised the syllabus and content in a course for pre-service teachers enrolled in the early childhood education program. The revised course content incorporated international learning outcomes that addressed cultural diversity, culturally-responsive teaching practices and lesson planning.

“My research article underscores the importance of curriculum internationalization in teacher education,” Decuir said. “As teacher educators, our role is to prepare new teachers to meet the academic and developmental needs of diverse learners--including immigrant and international learners. We cannot adequately serve all student populations by excluding those students who come to us from around the world. My article offers practical guidance for teacher educators interested in curriculum internationalization and classroom teachers who view themselves as citizens of the world.”

International and intercontinental exposure through courses benefits students, Osakwe said, especially those who may not have the opportunity to study abroad.

“ASU is at the forefront of publishing what faculty members are doing in curriculum internationalization,” Osakwe said. “There are many publications with information on internationalizing the curriculum on campuses, but not many about what faculty actually do in the classroom. You see lots of publications that talk about what should be done or about principles.”

Faculty members submitted proposals and were given small stipends to implement their proposals in one year and to continue teaching their revised courses after the project. Before implementation, they were engaged in professional development, which involved revising the syllabus using guidelines and resources from articles, participation in sessions or workshops on curriculum internationalization, implementing new content and sharing outcomes.

Osakwe hopes the publication will encourage more faculty members at ASU and other institutions to replicate and improve on strategies detailed by the authors. The journal will also serve as a method of sharing valuable tools to advance internationalization strategies that impact the quality of student learning outcome.

“That’s exactly what scholarship is all about; it involves researching, reviewing, modifying content and pedagogy, impacting learning, and sharing outcome through publication. It’s not just about teaching in the classroom,” Osakwe said. “We should be able to share some of the research and some of the pedagogical practices and learning outcomes with our colleagues and the world.”

Osakwe and Decuir will present research findings in May at a national conference hosted by NAFSA: Association of International Educators. You can access the publication free on the Phi Beta Delta website.

Internationalization of Existing Courses:
A Faculty Development Process at Albany State University, Georgia.

Nneka Nora Osakwe, PhD.
Albany State University


Institutions that plan to fully internationalize their campuses are expected to train their faculty to be cognizant of global competency as part of academic requirement and to ensure that international and intercultural learning is embodied in all their courses. courses. A vast literature and research in international education show that a core strategy for campus internationalization lies with well-trained faculty who can integrate international and intercultural learning into their courses. The need to internationalize courses is even greater now since only 10% of US students travel abroad (Green, 2012).In Georgia the percentage is smaller- only 2 % study abroad (OIE-USG, 2016). Internationalizing course instruction directly impacts more students and many institutions deploy various strategies to encourage as many faculty members as possible to internationalize both the “academic self” and their courses. This article describes the basic professional development process employed at Albany State University in training faculty members to internationalize their existing courses. The process includes, among others, five main phases: the pre-training phase and workshop section phases: understanding historical perspectives, basic concepts-meaning and rationale for internationalization and faculty’s role, pedagogy for internationalization, assessment and learning outcome as regards internationalization. After the training faculty participants used their internationalized syllabi to teach approved courses. They report their implementation experiences in an end semester symposium .The project outcome culminates in the publication of articles by some of the faculty members who fully implemented the course internationalization project funded by Title III.

Internationalizing Teacher Education in the United States:
A Teacher Educator’s Journey from Conceptualization to Implementation

Erica DeCuir, Ph.D.
Albany State University


This article offers guidance to teacher educators who seek to internationalize courses or curriculum in higher education. Through reflective practice (Bolton, 2010), I describe my process for internationalizing an undergraduate course for pre-service teachers enrolled in an early childhood education program. The research question that guided this process is: how can I integrate global content into an undergraduate course for teacher education in the United States? My journey through course revision, from conceptualization to implementation, is detailed in this article. My goal is to inspire more internationalization efforts in U.S. teacher education programs to facilitate global competency among future teachers.

Internationalizing the Music Course:
MUSC 2022 Ear Training and Sight Singing
Through an International Lens

Mimi Noda, D.M.
Albany State University


This paper reports the internationalization process for the 16-week, one semester course, MUSC 2022: Ear Training and Sight Singing. Since the world is increasingly becoming a global village, I wanted students to expand their awareness of other countries, along with the music and history of those countries, through their musical skills and knowledge in this new course that I created. The purpose of internationalizing this course is that students will appreciate music from a global perspective by comparing and contrasting rhythms, scales, and melodies from other countries. I used the Nigerian, Ghanaian, and Japanese national anthems; Brazilian dance rhythms; and Japanese pentatonic scales to illustrate to students the differences in the sound of music and specific rhythms, but also to introduce each country’s traditions, culture, and history. Preparation for this course involved research on the Internet to select appropriate anthems and dance rhythms, transposing anthems into a singable lower key, and avoiding duplication of the similar courses, Ethnic Music or World Music. The students learned, sang, and played the various countries national anthems.

Integrating Comparative Research on Global Instructional Practices in Pre-Service Early Childhood Education
Science Course Instruction

Dorene Medlin, Ed.D.
Albany State University


The purpose of this study was to determine the impact of internationalizing a curricular component of the class on preservice teachers. By realigning course objectives and including a content specific Albany State University internationalization initiative framework, the project evaluated the impact on preservice teacher knowledge of culturally relevant pedagogy. The early childhood education candidates, eligible for degrees in Early Childhood Education, researched educational practices on an international level and applied specific practices to instructional planning and delivery. The research question was: How do early childhood instructional practices in other countries align to early childhood instruction in Albany, Georgia.

A Global Integration: Internationalizing a
Public Speaking Course

Florence A. Lyons, PhD.
Albany State University


Institutions of higher education around the world have responded to the challenge of globalization by internationalizing their curricula. Incorporating elements of cross-cultural examination to a freshman Fundamentals of Public Speaking class proved to be an important first step toward globalization for this speech professor. In the class, students were placed in groups of 5 or 6, and each group selected a theme regarding study abroad and places abroad. Each group member examined a particular aspect of the group’s selected theme in a 2-3 minute speech. The act of integrating a global component into the Fundamentals of Public Speaking course broadened the students’ knowledge concerning a country and its cultures as well as encouraged them to participate in the university’s study abroad program. Through this process, important course goals can be reached while infusing an internationalization component. Both professors and students benefit without an excessive amount of extra work on the part of students or professors.

Internationalizing the Mathematical Finance Course

Zephyrinus C. Okonkwo, Ph.D.
Albany State University


About the year 2000, the Department of Mathematics and Computer Science, Albany State University (ASU), Albany, Georgia, USA envisioned the need to have a comprehensive curriculum revision based on recommendations of the Conference Boards of The Mathematical Sciences, the American Mathematical Society, the Mathematical Association of American, and also based on the need to create attractive career pathways for our students in emerging fields and professions. Many Mathematics graduates were progressing to graduate schools in the fields of Applied Mathematics and Statistics. In subsequent years, our graduates started seeking jobs in the financial sector in order to become portfolio managers, Wall Street traders, bankers, insurers, and wealth fund managers. MATH 4330 Mathematics of Compound Interest course was created to give our students the opportunity to garner strong background to become confident future wealth managers. This course is inherently an attractive course to internationalize as economic growth is in the national interest of every nation, and the deep understanding of national and international financial institutions’ functions is most essential. In this paper, I present the internationalization of Math 4330 Mathematics of Compound Interest, the associated outcomes, and the broader impact on students.

Internationalizing the Curriculum: Re-thinking Pedagogical Approaches to World Literature and English Composition

Candice A. Pitts, Ph.D.
Albany State University


This study explores the pedagogical approaches to internationalizing World Literature and English Composition courses at Albany State University, a small HBCU in Albany, Georgia. This attempt to internationalize the World Literature curriculum introduces, adds, and (re)positions strategically multimedia texts, such as “My Mother the Crazy African,” “The Tale of Sinuhe,” “Egyptian Love Poems,” and Black Orpheus that simultaneously highlight and counter the Eurocentrism of the original design of the syllabus that structurally represented Europe as the genesis of civilization. A Eurocentric curriculum and pedagogy are discordant to a school with a majority of students of color, and therefore this internationalized World Literature curriculum attempts to help students see themselves reflected in the assigned readings as well as to examine objectively the contributions countries and cultures of the world made and continue to make to the body of literature and to its study worldwide. English Composition II internationalized curriculum also ensures that students engage prevalent and relatable trends in international and cross-cultural discourses, based on the essays they write that require engagement with peoples and cultures of different countries in the world. The methodology deployed helps situate these students relationally in globally oriented discourses, to reveal that, as human beings, our lives are interconnected, despite our geographical and geopolitical locations, to ensure the socioemotional and intellectual uplift of all students, and to develop and fortify the teacher’s global awareness and competence.

The Internationalization of Curriculum at ASU:
Personal Reflections on a Disparate Evolution

James L. Hill, Ph.D.
Albany State University


This article was prepared from addresses made to participants attending Faculty Symposia on Internationalizing Courses at Albany State University (ASU) in 2016. It traces the evolution of efforts and dynamics of faculty and administration since the 1980's to infuse internationalization into the academic arena on the campus. The Department of English spearheaded this effort through Federal and State grants, the Association of Colleges and Universities, and through collaboration of ASU academic departments. Results include ASU sending and receiving faculty Fulbright grantees, and developing a Bachelor's Degree in International Studies, and a realization that much has been accomplished, and much more needs to be done.