East meets West: Exploring the challenges of cross-cultural collaboration in pedagogical development

DAVID ALLAN, Anh Pham Hoai, Le Le Nu Cam

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)


This chapter presents findings from an international project of capacity building between Europe and south-east Asia, where mentoring is used as a tool for the pedagogical development of tutors in higher education. Higher education institutions from five European countries partnered with eight universities from Vietnam and Laos to devise a bespoke curriculum for developing vocational teaching. The curriculum combined teaching methodologies of the West with cultural considerations of the East. The European partners were asked to deliver pedagogical training, to provide advice on module development, and to oversee the development of the Asian partners; thus, an international mentor-mentee relationship was established. Building on the traditional definition of mentors as “people who use their knowledge, power and status to assist others to develop their careers” (Tonna, Bjerkholt, & Holland, 2017, p. 211), we explore the relationships between tutors in so-called “developed” countries in the West and those identified as “developing” countries in the East. We outline a mentoring model that is complex and multi-layered, one which comprises “traditional,” “group” (Huizing, 2012; Mitchell, 1999) and “cross-cultural” (Johnson‐Bailey & Cervero, 2004; Kim & Egan, 2011) forms. The model utilises multiple approaches to supporting the development of tutors’ pedagogical knowledge and explores the difficulties of mentoring across conflicting cultural contexts. Within the hierarchical structure, roles are seen to shift, whereupon the mentor-mentee relationship grows hazy and cultural experience becomes a prominent force. Pedagogical development is thus a process of mentoring and being mentored, wherein existing practices are challenged, and knowledge is shared and co-constructed through collaborative inter-workings. This chapter, then, explores the subsequent cross-cultural tensions experienced in international mentoring and the resultant paradigmatic shift in pedagogical thinking.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationMentoring in Higher Education: Case Studies of Peer Learning and Pedagogical Development
EditorsClare Woolhouse, Laura Nicholson
Place of PublicationLondon
ISBN (Print)97830303468903
Publication statusPublished - 7 Sept 2020


  • Cross-cultural mentoring
  • Group mentoring
  • Co-reflection


Dive into the research topics of 'East meets West: Exploring the challenges of cross-cultural collaboration in pedagogical development'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this