Culturally Sensitive Pedagogy The Development Of University Based Leadership Programs


The purpose of the paper is to conceptualize culture, reveal cultural values’ manifestation in educational settings and examine the ways for educators to improve the culturally responsive teaching. Using the framework of Hofstede’s cultural dimensions, which is the most used in pedagogy nowadays; the authors of the paper are trying to reveal teaching as a cultural process, where culturally informed pedagogical practice should be adopted. The educator needs to assimilate the institutional underpinning of the students’ cultural values in the regular practice. The cultures should be sensitized in order to ensure that universities are not vehicles for perpetuating cultural-social inequalities. The goal of culturally sensitive pedagogy is to maintain both academic excellence and cultural integrity. A comparative method, a pragmatic-communicative method and a discourse analysis are used for the investigation works’ generalization and analysis. The paper examines the way how university - based leadership programs could be organized and developed. Agile leadership places emphasis on authenticity, social interaction and personal development. The article describes the university courses delivery transformation toward a more transparent and international model. A process of leadership development demands interconnectedness of all actors with a global outlook, justifies vision-based argumentation skills, and international leadership programs. The authors view the leadership program based on the social connectedness and empathy.

Keywords: Culturally sensitive pedagogycultural valuesinnovationinternational projectsleadershiplingual-cultural study


Culturally sensitive pedagogy responds to the teaching mission, which is focused on working with peoples around the world; increasing international respect and understanding. Each one of 7,000 languages human beings speak carries a glorious culture with it, and many educators have had their lives enriched by contact with the diversity of cultures and languages. It is evident that the diversity will flourish as the languages that matter most are those in which people speak in their families. Kunwar (2015) analyzed culturally sensitive pedagogy is a person-oriented approach to teaching in which the cultural strengths of every student are nurtured and developed to identify and promote the students ‘abilities and achievement. There are three functional dimensions in culturally sensitive pedagogy: the institutional dimension, the personal and the instructional dimensions. The institutional dimension pays special attention to educational policies (including resources and funds). Educational reforms, like other forms of social change, are a process that takes years. The personal dimension emphasizes the process by which educators are trained to become culturally sensitive. The initial training of teachers, testing and assessment systems are key elements that have to be addressed, alongside the curriculum, textbooks and other resources, and the orientation of serving teachers. The instructional dimension discusses the practices that reflect implementing cultural sensitivity in the multicultural group. In order to overcome cultural biases and stereotypes it is important for the teachers to learn about the cultural backgrounds of their students. Many educators underestimate their lack of cultural knowledge in teaching methods and techniques. A good way to start the process of change is to find out how the teachers’ experience differs from the students’ cultural background. The way for the teacher to become culturally sensitive can be manifested by appreciation of the traditions and values of other cultures. If lasting impact is to be expected, it is also important that different elements in the educational process be tackled in parallel. Our modern world is a very fast-moving place, involving vast amounts of change and ever-increasing levels of digitization. All this leaves a modern teacher in a difficult position, dealing with global materials, teaching the curricula and frameworks designed on a worldwide. The idea of manipulative strategy in teaching is relevant today and is considered by a number of works. Not all cultures are comfortable interacting with their teacher on equal level. Learning styles is the first cross-cultural issue that teachers encounter. Gugleilmo & Palsule (2014) considered that communally oriented people are more sensitive to the needs of others and much of social activity is immediate and not consciously guided when they analyzed the new approach to leadership, which includes a shift to encouragement, explanation, motivation and coaching, and allows the communicators understand each other better. It is impossible to be engaged in teaching bypassing the appeal to the sphere of students’ feelings. Focused teaching is the first cross-cultural issue that teachers encounter.

Problem Statement

The overarching theme of the study is to emphasize the possibilities of teaching and creating the comfortable climate in the classroom, considering differences in culture and using this knowledge to practice culturally sensitive teaching. Proficiency in the field of understanding and interpreting verbal and non-verbal behavior of students, belonging to different environment is the pedagogical concept that needs to be constantly trained. A person-oriented approach to teaching is aimed at working out some ideas of how to create a tolerant, independent and active person The paper discusses innovation and change, details the various contexts for language education around the world; examines issues common to the most advanced educational policies; represent different concepts for responsive pedagogy, highlights different aspects of agile leadership projects. The novelty of the topic is based on the necessity to explain the impact of culturally sensitive teaching on the educational policy, examine the modern teaching methods and techniques, and compare the culturally sensitive practices. The relevance of the research is to expand the notion of the importance of leadership programs. The authors analyzed the ideas for both delivery and content improvement in the leadership development projects at the University. The original item we have explored in this paper is the new paradigm that is focused on new approaches to the way we understand leadership style and collaboration. In order to identify a leadership culture it is crucial to highlight such skills as the ability to take command and lead by example; listen aggressively; communicate purpose and meaning; create a climate of trust and take calculated risks; generate unity and be open to change.

Research Questions

The implementation of this goal involves the following tasks: 1.Trace the ways the cultural values are manifested in multicultural educational settings; 2. Explore the issue of intercultural teaching competence; 3. Evaluate the role of leadership programs in the Digital age; 4. Discuss the modern shift to digital and communication technology; 5. Signify the ways leadership is practiced, and highlight the process of leadership development.

Purpose of the Study

The study is aimed to explore the effects of culturally sensitive teaching on the educational process, to analyze and reveal the issues common to the policy of sensitive pedagogy, and to expose the way the tertiary school delivers and develops the leadership programs.

Research Methods

In our study we used a comparative method, a pragmatic-communicative method and a discourse analysis. The chosen methods are based on the study and generalization of the investigation results achieved by well-known experts in the field of pedagogy and cultural studies, and the study of ethno cultural problems in teaching practice. The object of the study, its tasks and methods combine lingual-cultural studies and the investigation works done in related disciplines (for example, linguistics, socio-ethno, psycholinguistics, pedagogy), which are united by the common goal to give the explanation of the concept of stereotype, to identify the concept of the picture of the world, to consider the role of discourse, to emphasize the role of a leader in the multicultural projects. We intend to delve into the following issues: the relations between culture and pedagogy; manifestation of culture in the educational contexts; the role of leaders in international projects, international projects planning, innovation and change management.


The problem of culturally sensitive teaching was considered by a number of authors: (Chernyavskya, 2006; Louwerse et al., 2012; Karasik, 2013; Kogan, et al 2017; Emelyanova & Baranchikova, 2017). These authors discussed the relationship of language with social, cultural and other aspects of experience. The toponymy of any language is the most stable layer of vocabulary passed down from generation to generation, remaining in the memory of people. Toponymy is always historical. Karasik (2013) considers the relationship between the historical aspect of toponomy and the perception of society. Woodly et al. (2017) analyzed the impact of cognition styles on the process of cognitive verbalization. The psychological characteristics of the person play a leading role. Modern investigators raise the question of the specifics of the cognitive styles that occupies the special place in the system of psychological knowledge, being at the junction of psychology and teaching. (DeCapua, 2016) The revolutionary nature of digital age and its relationship and impact on organization, working style and leadership have been analyzed and viewed by a lot of authors. (Bass, 1990; Zysman & Newman, 2006; Grishina, 2016) These works have analyzed the need for different leadership styles and suggested the style be based on ability to adapt, strong customer orientation, creativity, empathy and strong coaching capabilities. Other ideas that these authors focused on are aimed at building cosmopolitism, interdisciplinary working styles, concept of trust and diplomacy.

Naturally, cultural awareness is a two-way thing and it is perfectly reasonable to expect trainees to conform to the customs here. However, rather than regarding cultural differences as a problem, it is often a good idea to discuss them so that the trainee feels they are being acknowledged. A good way of doing this is by getting your students to explain their expectations before coming on their course and how these compare to what they have found on the course. It is known, that a lingual-cultural study is a fairly young science that reveals, describes and explains the realities and facts of the nation's culture, fixed in the human language as its bearer. Scientists are paying ever more attention to the roles human beings occupy in the process of speech activity, their places in the linguistic cultural space of sociology. Researchers pay special attention to manifestations of the peculiarities of cognitive activity, the study of which is available using the tools of psycho-sociolinguistics, ethno-linguistics, and lingual-cultural study аanalysis. There has been extensive research done on the nature of innovation (Hockly & Clandfield, 2011; Lauwerse et al, 2012; Almazova et al, 2016). Some groundbreaking research has been found applicable to education. One such piece of fundamental research is that of Christison & Murray (2009), who identified organizational cultures that facilitate change and those that impede it. These are classed segmental and integrative. Segmentalist cultures suffocate change, because they do not foster interaction across areas, instead they view problems in isolation. Integrative cultures, on the other hand, see issues as part of the whole and experiment with different ways of addressing them. The terms ‘innovation’ and ‘change’ are mostly used interchangeably. Innovation is a highly complex process, because different individuals and cultures have different attitudes towards innovation. Success as a leader or educator is not only based on what one knows but also on how one interacts with others. ‘Soft skills’ are the skills in persuading others to invest information in new initiatives; The leadership courses usually involve learning through lectures, reading, case studies and role plays. But leading for change suggests skills for leadership that are required by participating in international project meetings, discussing different points of view, resolving conflicts, supporting and caring those, who belong to different cultures. In the leadership training classes, we focused on building self-esteem, trying to show our students that we trusted and believed in them. A good leader should cherish friendship, support unity training programs and collective achievement. We arranged some case -studies where we taught the students to treat each other with dignity and respect. Research has shown that teacher’s values; knowledge and beliefs are critical to shaping instructions and have impact on students’ performance (Kunwar, 2015). We suggest that if more teachers are to become involved in professional and intercultural development opportunities aimed at making change, the offerings need to be flexible. It is very important for tertiary school educators to be able to collaborate in international research projects, as this experience gives the opportunity to get used to managing change and the universities could benefit from considering change within the framework of innovation, communication and pedagogical proficiency. We would like to discuss the lessons we gained having participated in the project that was targeted at working with Chinese teachers. It is vitally important if you collaborate with Chinese partners that you get support from local government at all levels and not take it for granted that a provincial project can be carried out smoothly in smaller towns without the right condition. Not all cultures are comfortable interacting with their teacher on equal level. Chinese students often feel shy and reserved. Even with sound policy the project may not work successfully if the implementation goes wrong. China is a huge country with a lot of differences from town to town, and it is sensible to leave the role of policy makers to Chinese colleagues. For example, in a developed area, like Dongguan city, where educators were open to new ideas, the module Using Drama in language teaching was appropriated and the training could be given in English. However in a less developed area the course was given mostly in local languages and the training period was varied accordingly to the budget available. It is important to learn what the students ‘cultural background is. We think that high uncertainty avoidance can have special consequences for educational practice. Students from this type of culture are good at doing multiple choice tests, a teacher is considered as an expert and the students do not debate with the teachers or object them. In the cultures with high uncertainty avoidance it is important to have clear objectives, detailed assignments and rigid timetables. Students from these cultures would prefer clear and stable evaluation criteria. On the other hand, cultures with low uncertainty avoidance will be contented with vague objectives, they expect original tasks and tests, and tend to do well with essay writing. For the students that belong to high long-term orientation ‘what works’ might be more important than ‘why do things work’ the way they do. These students tend to do well in applied sciences and mathematics, and the ones who belong to low long-term orientation cultures are prone to being better in philosophy and sociology. If we examine the project work with international teams, we should highlight the fact that the starting points for change initiatives in education have not altered. These are: the curriculum, methodology, assessment, and materials. Success in a project research is based on intercultural issues which can break or make a change initiative.

Many countries are trying to find ways to improve education when they have limited funds. Multimedia has been proposed as a panacea by many Ministries of Education. We consider that these proposals rest on assumptions that are not always accurate. These assumptions are that multimedia can replace teachers, that it is cheaper than teachers, and so more efficient. While there is a strong argument for including multimedia in instruction, because students will need it for their work lives, its total implementation in education is still debatable. We think that face-to face model of language teaching is still successful, while the role of multimedia is thought to be complimentary. The idea to make the course a blended one can be made for the following reasons: to create a space for them to share experience (Hockly & Clandfield, 2011). But while innovations may be adopted at national program levels, they will be rejected by teachers because of local contexts (Rogers et al., 2014; Riabova, 2017, Popova et al., 2017). The results of the student questionnaire revealed that nearly all of the students considered blending learning helped them improve their knowledge. However, most of them did not want to have an on-line component compulsory. Pazio (2013) suggests that there is a need to carefully plan a blended course, providing international students with comprehensive teacher and document guidance. Therefore, when we are designing a blended course, we should tune the balance between the online and paper –based materials.

Relatively stable ideas about the strangers existing in the public consciousness influence the processes of cultural interaction. The last decades are marked by growing interest in stereotypes as an important component of individual and public mentality; It might be interesting to present instructional materials that give positive views of different cultural groups to increase the learning of students belonging to those groups. This would provide opportunities for other students to appreciate the culture different from their own. The students could be given the possibility to share their cultural values with their peers. It is true that innovation should be undertaken with a clear understanding of its nature and how the local cultural perceptions impact the way the change will be adopted and diffused. The following questions should be discussed by the University educators:

  • -how compatible is the innovation with current practice?

  • -is the innovation too simple or complex for adoption?

  • will the innovation increase the visibility of the university positively?

In documenting the experience of students, trainee teachers and those supporting the learning, we can capture how successful the teaching experience is, the factors that contribute to it, and how this may be further enhanced. There is a reasonable expectation that the evaluation leads to quality enhancement. Woodly et al. (2017) examine the type of evaluation, typically carried out by questionnaire or focus group study at the end of the course and praise it as such assessment contributes to change in both teachers’ and students’ cross-cultural communication and behavior. Karaulov (2010) notes that in the institutions, where teachers are able to access new ideas, experiment, and share experiences within other educational cultures, and, where leaders encourage appropriate levels of challenge and support, there is greater potential for classroom improvement. Finnish education is thought to be successful. Finnish achievements are seen as a result of a whole complex of factors viewed in sociological and historical perspective. Kauranen & Matikainen (2017) consider that the international projects have achieved success in Finland because there is strong political will and parental demand, a good partnership between the Ministry of Education and Universities, and a major commitment to community. By combining these factors with an integrated curriculum, well-supported teacher provision and Continuous Professional Development, it has been possible to have a major, sustainable impact on a national educational system. An effective and experienced teacher must demonstrate both sociopolitical and intercultural competence

The teacher’s knowledge and beliefs; teacher’s language awareness; respectful attitude towards multicultural team are considered to be relevant for successful innovative approaches. Easily moved management that is called agile management nowadays is an intuitive management. Linderman & Vogler (2015) analyzed the rise of attention to integrated personal and leadership development with coaching as the main method of leadership techniques. The main idea is to integrate the study of management in a multidisciplinary group in order to engage participants in inner-professional dialog on the topic. The existing arrangement places emphasis on working in multidisciplinary teams and focuses on the coaching type of leadership. The team counseling sessions at the end of the day enhance human orientation, focus on relationship and empathy, a global mind-set and transparency. The course should be build in order to help students navigate more cosmopolitan environments. We consider that students are bound by certain horizon of possibilities in their career, depending on their earlier choices. This means that in leadership development at universities the students should be taken at least to the beginning of the road toward global context in order to provide them with new options for new leadership improvement. We think that successful leaders are those ones, who are placing emphasis on social mindfulness, authenticity and interaction.

To summarize the results of the investigation: 1. The impact of culturally sensitive teaching on the educational policy has been revealed. 2. Leader’s skills and ability to bring about change have been highlighted. The skills that are required for effective organizational leadership (and therefore effective cross-cultural project management leadership) have been identified. These are the interactional skills needed for the management of individuals and teams; the skill to facilitate the groups and support others, as well as to confront conflict and build consensus; and finally, the strategic skill linked to understanding how change is designed and constructed in multicultural organization. 3. The ideas for both delivery and content improvement in the leadership development projects at the University have been viewed. Policy makers need to ensure that organizations have permeable structures that allow the cross – disciplinary interaction. They need to invest in teachers’ education programs, model innovative practice, and promote cross-cultural projects. At the university program the focus should be shifted from the theoretical content of leadership to the leadership development and how it enables agile leadership to grow in students.4. The evaluation of the international; projects’ quality and popularity has been discussed. The necessity for the internationalized and diverse curriculum has been revealed. 5. The debatable role of multimedia has been analyzed. While there is a strong argument for including multimedia in instruction, because students will need it for their work lives, its total implementation in education is still discussed. The authors think that face-to face model of teaching is still successful, while the role of multimedia is thought to be complimentary.


Multicultural education provides students with the complete understanding of the world around them and equips them with the proper skills and knowledge needed to prosper and thrive in a world characterized by global mobility and cultural, political and economic links. A multi-culturally literate person possesses the experience and, knowledge required to form relationships and collaborate with others across cultures. Culture develops through recurring social relationships, which are internationalized by the entire group members. It is important to understand to what degree cultural values manifest in the process of education. It is apt to highlight that we consider leaders to be more managers than military men. Universities among other institutions need to transform the course delivery toward a more international mode, regardless of language. The initial training of teachers, testing and assessment systems are key elements that have to be addressed, alongside the curriculum, textbooks and other resources, and the orientation of serving teachers. The instructional dimension discusses the practices that reflect implementing cultural sensitivity in the multicultural group. In order to overcome cultural biases and stereotypes it is important for the teachers to learn about the cultural backgrounds of their students. A good way to start the process of change is to find out how the teachers’ experience differs from the students’ cultural background. Multicultural pedagogy has three groups of tasks that can be designated by the concepts of pluralism, equality and integration. In the first case it is a question of respect for and preservation of cultural diversity. In the second case, we are talking about the support of equal rights to education and training. In the third case, we consider the formation of super ethnos. These key challenges are many-valued. So, the tasks of achieving equal rights to education can be classified in two ways. Firstly, there should be equal access to educational resources and the full inclusion of innovation in the pedagogical process. Secondly, there should be the educational programs that allow students with different abilities and levels of training to receive a full-fledged education. Multicultural education involves the acquisition of knowledge and competences that allow the individual to successfully operate in a multi-ethnic and multicultural environment. When we consider modern leadership style, it is important to analyze both local and global realms of leadership. In light of the motivation it is useful to develop the use of web-based methods of sharing information, counseling experimental live learning sessions, develop blog series, virtual coaching with local and international partners, create transparent and digital forums for sharing experiences, support this with strategic partnership with foreign partners who have will to develop intercultural leadership. The course of modern leadership competences should be brought into the fore of the course content. The emphasis should be placed on working in interdisciplinary groups, and the coaching style should be emphasized by the lecturers. Praise is a tool to generate unity and is more productive than punishment. We consider that our job is to listen aggressively and to pick up every good idea the students have for creating the unity. Unity training is important in order to make students treat one another with dignity and respect. Our unity training is to be focused on common interests and positive reasons to value equally of all team members. We are convinced that with good leadership, freedom does not weaken discipline, and the climate of trust is created. Students changed because we proved the benefits of community, communication and creativity. The years in the leadership programs taught us that the art of leadership lies in commonsense actions that ensure high morale and increase the odds of winning. There has been an attempt to arrange group counseling sessions and to present global leadership challenges, as some participants have first-hand experience of modern ways of working and always to back the words with actions. Nowadays global economics is based on communication and networking rather than control and demand. In this paper we have outlined a few key elements the leaders need to meet the requirements of the Knowledge Age.


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Riabova, A., & Pavlova, O. (2018). Culturally Sensitive Pedagogy The Development Of University Based Leadership Programs. In V. Chernyavskaya, & H. Kuße (Eds.), Professional Сulture of the Specialist of the Future, vol 51. European Proceedings of Social and Behavioural Sciences (pp. 538-546). Future Academy.