“…Nothing’s lost. Or else, all is translation. And every bit of us is lost in it…” Informal collaborative learning amongst university students in Cameroon : a case study

Tchoumbou Ngantchop, Michel Auguste (2017) “…Nothing’s lost. Or else, all is translation. And every bit of us is lost in it…” Informal collaborative learning amongst university students in Cameroon : a case study. Doctoral thesis (PhD), University of Sussex.

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Cameroon university students are drawn to informal small group talks as a highly valued learning strategy, particularly in relation to assessment. This research investigates this practice in-depth as an ‘instance in action,’ with academic, social and cultural implications in the life of the average university learner in Cameroon. Showing the methodological limitations of current discourses on student group talks in higher education teaching and learning, the study draws from bakhtinian ‘dialogism’ to underpin analysis of students’ talks and interactions. Data were collected through extended observation of several small groups in three different universities in Cameroon, across several disciplinary fields, levels of undergraduate learning, linguistic and social boundaries.
Findings suggest that in the process of talking and interacting informally, that is, outside of the formal structure of the classroom, learners strategically position themselves in ways that allow their individual and collective voices to emerge. Sustained in the context of discourse, emerging voices create the dialogic space within which learners con-struct their understandings of disciplinary knowledge. For it is within the dialogic space that learners, through their voices, best relate to assessment demands, to expected learning outcomes and to the social and cultural contexts of learning in Cameroon.
This work contributes to knowledge by underlining the importance of learning spaces in higher education, particularly in relation to learners’ voices and expected active engagement with learning. As such, it highlights the potentials of informal collaborative learning to enhance the learning experience in Cameroon universities, particularly in relation to assessment and critical thinking. Hence, it provides grounds for claims that Cameroonian students, and generally learners in other similar contexts, are usually more independent thinkers. This offers reasonable basis for questioning existing presumptions around ‘academic inferiority’ of ‘foreign’ students in some institutions abroad; presumptions that have continued to widen existing gaps between western universities and competing institutions in developing contexts. In addition, it foregrounds subsequent inquiries on learners’ identities in Cameroon universities. Methodological innovations in investigating unconventional learning practices, particularly with the use of information technology, are also highlighted.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Schools and Departments: School of Education and Social Work > Education
Subjects: L Education > LB Theory and practice of education > LB2300 Higher education
L Education > LG Individual institutions (Asia. Africa. Oceania) > LG401 Africa
Depositing User: Library Cataloguing
Date Deposited: 04 Jul 2017 09:54
Last Modified: 04 Jul 2017 09:54
URI: http://srodev.sussex.ac.uk/id/eprint/69035

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