critical incident analysis
EDUC6023: Assignment 2
You will be given three (3) critical incidents involving some type of intercultural
misunderstanding in the classroom. For each incident you will be asked to:
· describe the possible causes for the misunderstanding (for example, different
attitudes to authority or contrasting ideas about the role of the teacher, attitudes to
uncertainty etc.); and
· present some recommendations for resolving the incident
Ensure you base your discussion on theories regarding intercultural communication and
1. Brian works in a school where certain subjects are streamed. He is used to discussing student placement
within these streams and was not surprised when a student came to him after class one day and asked to
be advanced to the next level. Given that the student was struggling to pass the assessment in the current
class, Brian advised him to stay put. The student replied with a simple ‘Yes’, smiled and walked away.
Brian was very surprised and frustrated however, when just one week later the same student presented
with the same request. Again, Brian explained the reasons for why he could not allow the student to
advance. Again the student smiled and said ‘Yes’. Brian thought that he had perhaps gotten his message
across and the matter would not be raised again.
However, just two days later the student returned with the same request. Brian was puzzled as to what
was happening. Can you suggest an explanation for this situation?
2. Julia is a teacher at a co – ed, public high school in Sydney. She has several international students in her
year twelve modern history class.
Julia is sensitive to the needs of ESL students, and always takes extra time during to ask the students if
they need any additional support or explanation. Invariably the students will refuse any extra help during
class. This is despite Julia’s insistence that if there is any need for clarification it should be asked during
Julia is surprised by the fact that, despite refusing her offer of assistance in class, the international
students frequently followed her after class or came to the staff room during lunch to ask questions. Julia
is happy to help her students, however with very little time to prepare for the next class, as well as
EDUC6023 Dr Rachel Burke Page 2
playground duties and other commitments; she simply doesn’t have time to assist outside of class. Julia
wondered why the students did not ask these questions during the lesson.
Can you suggest an explanation for this situation?
3. Anita has started working at an English Language College. She has been placed in charge of coordinating
the intermediate English classes and as such, is required to meet with the other program convenors at the
weekly executive meeting.
At one meeting, Anita’s Head Teacher raised the issue of ordering text books. She announced that, as was
established practice at the college , textbooks would not be ordered until the week before semester
commenced when student numbers were confirmed. Anita was concerned with this arrangement as it
would mean she would have to teach fo r several weeks without text books. She politely raised her hand
and addressed the Head Teacher, requesting that – given she was new to the College – she be permitted
to order the intermediate texts in time for week one.
Upon making this request, Anita noticed the atmosphere in the room alter immediately. Her colleagues
appeared uncomfortable and the Head Teacher smiled and said ‘We will see’ and moved on to the next
item on the agenda. No one addressed Anita again for the rest of the meeting.
Can you suggest what has happened here?