Episode Title: Andrew Maguire on Hidden Curriculum and International Students.
Andrew Maguire is the author of a new book Teaching Between the Lines, about the Hidden Curriculum.
Andrew joins us on our podcast today and talks about the Academic and Social Impact to International Students during the college applications process, the college years, and ways to mitigate the impact.
In particular, we discuss the following with him:
Topics discussed in this episode:
Our Guest: Andrew Maguire is the author of the upcoming book Teaching Between the Lines. Andrew is a graduate of Vanderbilt University with a Bachelor’s degree in American Studies and Psychology. Andrew then graduated with a Master’s in Public Administration from New York University.
Memorable Quote: “...for international students, the challenges are not so foreign, are [not] so different from an American student’s experiences. You know, there will be, of course, different ways that they experience it. But I think, you know, understanding that the impacts are in some ways universal, I think is really powerful.” Andrew Maguire on the Impact of the Hidden Curriculum.
Episode Transcript: Please visit Episode’s Transcript.
Transcript of the episode’s audio.
<Start Snippet> Andrew Maguire 0:14
Me, I was totally one of those students who really struggled to take advantage of office hours, I viewed it as something that was remedial. And it wasn't until a professor actually reached out to me to say, you know, you're doing well in class, but you could take it further. Let's have a conversation. Let's get, you know, get to know one another. And it actually did eventually lead me doing research with that faculty member.
That’s Andrew Maguire, author of a new book, “Teaching Between the Lines: How Youth Development Organizations reveal the Hidden Curriculum.”
Hello, I am your host, Venkat Raman.
Andrew is back with us today to talk about how the Hidden Curriculum impacts International Students.
Our previous podcast with Andrew focused on the impact on US students.
Andrew Maguire’s book - Teaching between the Lines, shines light on a significant, but less publicized aspect: the norms, behavior, language and unstated expectations that certain types of students are unaware of, during the college applications process as well as during their college years.
Andrew joins us on our podcast today and talks about the Academic and Social Impact to International Students during the college applications process, the college years, ways to mitigate the impact, and campus resources available to International students.
So, without any delay, here’s Andrew Maguire!
Venkat Raman 2:04
Andrew, I'm really excited that you could make some time. And I know we had a nice discussion, I guess it was in March, almost six months ago now, And about the upcoming book that was then upcoming. But I guess it's here, almost here. So maybe you can kick it off with some updates, and you've made some changes. So tell us about where things are.
Andrew M 2:29
Yeah, thanks. So really excited the book is is going to be out in the world in early September, public press, we have changed the title to reflect a little bit more specifically about the focus. So it's now called teaching between the lines how youth development organizations reveal the hidden curriculum. So it's really focused on the role of youth development organizations kind of operating outside of formal schools, to do the work of revealing the hidden curriculum and helping students who need it most kind of navigate some of the barriers that the hidden curriculum brings about.
Venkat Raman 3:08
Yeah, I remember that you had made that point that they are probably, the youth development organizations are probably the primary drivers of this change or, you know, to offset the Hidden Curriculum. So I think it's appropriate that you highlight that very well. So maybe as we dive into this, and we're going to take slightly different sort of approach this time, I guess, or a different audience for this topic. But tell us a little bit about the Hidden Curriculum again, just review it for us. Yeah, sure.
So when I described the Hidden Curriculum, I'm thinking about those unstated the powerful norms, expectations and language, that really exist in education, and especially in colleges. So, you know, these are, yeah, these these are both academic norms, and also social norms, and they can really range so you know, it might be understanding how professor's office hours work, to how to find an internship or research assistant role, to more social dynamics, like how you navigate, you know, moving to college, or how you navigate these new social spaces. So it's really about norms and, and sort of how you navigate those in the college experience when you don't realize that those norms exist in the first place.
Venkat Raman 4:43
I know that when we talked about the last time we talked about this from the point of view of all those students in the US that have from certain backgrounds, maybe immigrants and or lower income or for are first gen, likely to be first gen students, college students. So they were the ones most impacted. But I believe you think that this has an equal, if not more impact on international students?
Yeah. So I mean, I see a role in, for really all students who haven't been part of sort of the most elite preparatory education experience. And so that can certainly be that's typically in the US, it's true of some international students, but I think, you know, maybe backing up a little bit, you know, the hidden curriculum, it it is only hidden to some people. And it's usually hidden to those people, as you mentioned too often first in their families who go to college, or who went to high school, high schools that don't teach or model the college norms. And so, you know, that's really powerful. Because if you're aware of the hidden curriculum, then it's can be much easier to sort of transition and thrive in college. But when you haven't been taught some of these unspoken norms, it can be much harder to engage fully. And that can kind of perpetuate some of this ongoing educational inequality. So I think for international students, you know, many international students will share some similar experiences to first generation students or other marginalized students in the US, who won't have full kind of touch points with what's expected, both academically and socially on a college campus here in the US.
Venkat Raman 6:41
So what specifically are you thinking about? Maybe we can talk about the academic side first?
Yeah, so I think, you know, broadly, when we're talking about the Hidden Curriculum academically, a lot of this comes back to sort of how you're operating in the classroom and how you're relating to faculty in particular, I think faculty play an important role, because they're often the ones who tend to perpetuate, you know, sort of, quote, unquote, traditional academic norms. So I often go to office hours as a classic example of the hidden curriculum. So office hours, for those who aren't familiar are the specific hours that faculty set aside every week for students to visit them in their offices, usually for help on what's going on in the classroom, right on classroom content. But, you know, those, those office hours were also time for students just to meet with faculty and more casually to learn about their work, to learn about their research interests, and maybe their, you know, own professional trajectory and sort of how they became a professor in their fields. So, you know, this is part of the hidden curriculum, because what happens is a faculty will really explicitly explain what I just explained, right? They won't necessarily explain what the purpose of office hours are. And there's an assumption that all students kind of enter college with a knowledge of what this is or how you supposed to go about it. And I think, for a lot of students, and this, I think, could definitely apply to international students who might not have experienced this in their own high schools, or, you know, in their in their home schools. That, you know, you might think, well, going to office hours is a sign that I'm struggling that this is reveal, you know, there's some kind of stigma about it really, or the opposite, that it's sort of an inappropriate way to engage with the professor right, that it seems like maybe you're, you're trying too much to trying too hard to kind of get in their good graces. The reality is that, you know, office hours are a great way to engage both in the course content to make sure you're staying on track in your class and kind of following along, but also to build those relationships with faculty. And those faculty relationships are something that is really powerful in the hidden curriculum. It's, it's not something I think a lot of students are aware of. Faculty relationships help in so many ways throughout your college experience, they can be helpful in unlocking opportunities, like research assistant roles, or in helping be, you know, a reference when you apply for internships or jobs and you're graduating. So there's kind of a cascade effect, right? Or kind of a self reinforcing cycle to this, where students who aren't aware of the office hours and it's never explained to them, don't seek them out, which means they don't build relationships with faculty and they're kind of heart harms, both in how they sort of excel academically, but also maybe even professionally downline. So I just use that as one example. You know, I think that's representative of some of the norms. There are other things like how you approach studying kind of common formats for assignments, the way you might seek out academic support on campus and lean on different resources like teacher's assistant into renting centers. All of those are common kind of academic elements of the hidden curriculum, but I think could be applicable for international students whose high schools might not have taken kind of that approach. And, and modeled some of those academic norms.
Venkat Raman 10:22
You know, you bring up a great point about office hours, in particular, because in talking to a lot of alumni, it, it really is one of the hallmarks of a great relationship they've had with faculty, because whenever they've talked about building relationships, it seems like, in a lot of cases, the origins were in those office hours where they had an opportunity to, you know, just talk to the prof and like you mentioned, about quite a bunch of topics surrounding not just the subject at hand, but other things as well. And certainly, like you said, it's a huge foundation for, you know, whether it's internship or, you know, just their future career,
It's easy for me to talk in sort of the theoretical about office hours, but for me, I was totally one of those students who really struggled to take advantage of office hours, I viewed it as something that was remedial. And it wasn't until a professor actually reached out to me to say, you know, you're doing well in class, but you could take it further, and let's have a conversation, let's get, you know, get to know one another. And it actually did eventually lead me doing research with that faculty member. So, you know, I felt very fortunate to have that. But I, it's also say that, you know, it's very, a very challenging thing, I think, for students to adjust to, from lots of different backgrounds. And so it's an important example of the ways that that the hidden curriculum sort of subtly, but powerfully can kind of influence a student's academic experience.
Venkat Raman 12:05
Do you like what Andrew saying, then maybe you should check out his book, Teaching Between the Lines?
Go to Andrew hyphen, Maguire dotnet (andrew-maguire.net) and check it out.
Venkat Raman 12:22
Now, what about the social aspect?
Yeah. So the social aspect is really wrapped up in extreme wealth. And, you know, I think, for international students, like American students, you know, international students are going to have lots of different experiences, some are probably coming from relatively privileged backgrounds in their countries, they may go to some of the best high schools, they may have opportunities to take supplemental classes, and others will not will not have had that experience and that exposure. And so for, just like many American students, the extreme wealth of a lot of the most elite universities can be really startling. And I think that's where a lot of the Hidden Curriculum comes through. Dr. Anthony Jack, who's a great sociologist at Harvard does an amazing job in his book, The privilege core of some describing some of the shocks that low income first generation students in particular kind of confront when they get to college, and in particular, just sort of the habits of their peers who are much wealthier, you know, that starts on day one on moving day.
Andrew M 13:32
And you know, a lot of students from multi generational families will kind of arrive with a sort of a long list of things that they have come prepared with. So there are things like bed risers, which you put under your beds to give you more storage underneath. Sure, long twin sheets, which is a very strange size sheet, but it besides of almost every college bed. jepara caddies, to help carry all your supplies to and from, you know, the communal bathrooms you probably have. These are all a specific and often unfamiliar items. And if you've not had anyone in your family go to college before, you probably aren't realizing that you need all of these kind of common supplies. So, you know, on day one, and these physical belongings just show the difference. And I think the purpose or the reason why it's powerful isn't necessarily because your bed risers are going to make or break your experience, right? You feel less, less of a sense of belonging, you might feel a sort of that you're out of the loop and that can kind of spread you know that feeling can kind of extends to other experiences. I think physical belongings kind of across the board sort of proved to be that powerful signal and another researcher Dr. Rachel Gable writes about this in her book called The Hidden Curriculum. She just grabs one student who went to Georgetown and Georgetown has a legacy of being very preppy and its style. And so this student, she felt like she needed to kind of match the style for Pearson, so she started shopping at J Crew, which, you know, is a pretty expensive brand that that is a sort of that quintessential preppy style. And it was well out of her means to do that, you know, she was to take on credit card debt to do this, and, but it was something that she just felt desperate to do, because she wanted to feel that sense of belonging. And that went so far that her mom one year, you know, decided to not get any other gifts and just tried to buy everything from the J crew sales rack for her daughter. And it was in that moment, the daughter realized, I've taken this too far, you know, when my mom is feeling my anxiety to kind of fit in. And, you know, is is taking on financial risk, and it's foregoing her own presence so that I can have these j crew clothes, you know, it was just a really powerful story, I think of how sort of the physical belongings that so many wealthy students on campus might use to sort of signal that they do fit in, makes other students feel like they don't. And so, you know, I think that's just one example, which we see it also in things like how students eat, you know, whether students are going to use their fully paid for meal plans on campus or go off campus and, you know, have nice meals that are going to cost a lot of money. Students who are taking trips, they're going on, you know, very exciting vacations over there, their breaks where where other students, you know, might not have even heard of the place that they're going. So this sort of physical manifestations of that wealth, I think fuel a lot of the feelings of not fitting in and sort of fuel that lack of belonging, that, again, has sort of a self reinforcing effect on students, and is really important for how they perform both academically, but also just how they they feel and sort of their their mental health on campus. So again, a subtle but powerful way and influence on students' experience.
Venkat Raman 17:19
Now, how about the actual application process for international students? I mean, is that as much a challenge as it was for, or it is for us students, you think?
Yeah, I mean, you know, one big difference I think we talked about this last time briefly is, you know, the financial aid process, which is particularly frustrating and hard to kind of decipher, that looks very different for international students, because you have different forms and requirements. And in some ways, the US government's forms are the worst ones.
So you might be avoiding those if you're an international student for the better, but I'm sure that there are other requirements that might be difficult to, to navigate.
But otherwise, you know, pretty similar experiences, there's additional standardized test requirements, if you're not a native English speaker, you know, having to take the Toefl or other tests.
So, you know, standardized tests are always just kind of a frustrating experience. And often, you know, like the SAT is, it's about learning how to take the test, rather than, you know, the fundamentals of the knowledge necessarily.
Yeah, and then some of the fundamentals of the application process, I think, international students are likely to experience the same challenge. You know, last time we talked about the, sort of the, the expectation, maybe that's kind of implied in some essay prompts, where you're bringing up some of the more challenging parts of your life and sort of how students navigate that and and choose, you know, how much how vulnerable they want to be and how forthcoming they want to be about their experiences, without making it feel performative.
So I think that continues to be a challenge for international students and American students alike who kind of navigate and sort of, again, read between the lines about what it seems like colleges are expecting, but not explicitly asking and a prompt for a college essay. So yeah, I think you know, it, the the challenges there definitely exists for international students as well.
Venkat Raman 19:36
What, What should international students be doing about the Hidden Curriculum? How should they prepare for their, you know, their campus experience? Like you had outlined, what should they be doing?
Yeah. Well, I'll first start by saying that there's really no how to guide here, right? There's no you know, there's no clear recipe for how to go about doing this. Right for any students. And I think that's what makes it so challenging. Everyone's experience, and the things you are not familiar with are gonna vary so much.
Andrew M 20:10
But I think, you know, just the fundamental first step for really all students, but especially for international students, is just to become aware of the Hidden Curriculum, its existence in the first place. Right? Right. Right, and to understand that it's impacting American and international students alike, right? I think that is really important. Because if you're a student, an international student who's experiencing the Hidden Curriculum in some way, I think it can be really empowering to understand that that's not necessarily unique to you being an international student, that you can actually find solidarity with a lot of your peers, you just have to know that this is something that influences a lot of people, right.
Andrew M 20:53
I think there's also a sort of added benefit, which is for international students who maybe are coming from a little bit more of a privileged background, who might not run into as many of the Hidden Curriculum experiences, as some American peers, there's an opportunity here to be an ally, right, and really voicing how the hidden curriculum is showing up and trying to make it less powerful by making it more explicit. Right.
Andrew M 21:22
So, you know, generally, I think that's one of the things I always struggle with, when I talk about and write about the Hidden Curriculum, is, I never want to give the impression that the hidden curriculum is, is singularly sort of the quote, unquote, right way to operate, right or all it has all the right norms for students to learn. You know, there are some that are really powerful, and are intentionally, you know, in sort of, influential, you know, I've write an entire chapter on my book on self efficacy and sort of having that sense of agency over your academic and social and professional outcomes. And it's something that really shows up across the Hidden Curriculum, sort of unstated, but expected that students are really taking ownership over their experience. They're being proactive, they're seeking out opportunities, they're seeking out resources. And I think that that's something that's part of the hidden curriculum, but that is really powerful, right, and that I think all students would benefit from learning.
Andrew M 22:22
But there are other things, you know, some of these very archaic traditions, you know, academia tends to be a field that doesn't change easily. The influence of wealth, that's just, you know, sort of outsized and unfair, these are things that we shouldn't be considering just sort of the usual way of doing things, right. It's not just because it's cool, doesn't mean it's the right way to do it. I think international students have an opportunity as they're learning about the hidden curriculum to really be part of the solution and chipping away at sort of the influential role that the hidden curriculum plays.
Venkat Raman 23:01
What resources are available to them? In addition to obviously, opportunities to sort of, you know, share the same thing with similar folks? Yeah. Solidarity, like you mentioned? Yeah. What do you think is available to them?
Oh there are a ton of campus resources that are available to international students specifically, and to all students that I think are important to learn about. Now, most universities will have an international students and scholars services team, they are probably going to interact with those faculty and staff for you know, some logistical purposes like orientations and visas. But there's, they're also a great resource in some of this sort of adjustment, and both academic and social navigation pieces. So I would really encourage folks to sort of connect with, you know, faculty and staff working in the spaces, alumni who are a little bit more established or upperclassmen, if you're new to the college, who can be real resources and sort of those near peer mentors, in navigating and sharing their own experience. But then there are also you know, campus resources that are really valuable. So being aware, academically that a lot of your classes will have a teaching assistant, called have different names for them, but typically some kind of teaching assistant, usually either an upper classmen, or graduate student who is supporting the professor, and can be sometimes a little bit more of an accessible resource to you. if it still feels intimidating to approach your professor or they have limited time. You can really have that more intimate support from a teaching assistant who can really advise and guide you through some of the both you know current sort of the class content, but also just the way that you navigate the class the way you're expected to participate, the way you're supposed to structure some of your assignments, some of those things, we talked about some of those norms.
Andrew M 25:06
And, you know, social groups, different organizations and organizations play a really important part in having that sense of belonging, and a sense of belonging that I think we're always striving for, sometimes the hidden curriculum gets in the way of so I think, again, being proactive to participate in a few student groups, and having sort of a shared interest with people really helps build the connections, when you might run into more challenging social dynamics, you can really lead us people you've built those connections with to help you navigate those. So I think, you know, just really leaning on those resources on campus is really powerful.
Venkat Raman 25:50
What do you think, colleges in general and other educators, What can they do? Now, obviously, folks, like you writing these books, and bringing this to the forefront is a huge service. What can these colleges and other folks do?
Yeah. Well, you know, just like, I encourage students to become aware of the Hidden Curriculum, I think colleges and all educators really have a responsibility to do that. And I think increasingly, they are, you know, we're seeing a lot of universities starting to offer, you know, different seminars, particularly for first generation students, to really be reduced to some of the elements of the hidden curriculum, you know, confront things like imposter syndrome, really talk about identity and wealth on campus, and, and also talk about those resources that are available on campus. So that's a really promising sign, I think, you know, organized universities like Georgetown have really been leading the way on this and I think, have set a sort of standards the other universities are adopting. And suggestion I would have for universities to take, the next step is to make all students aware of the hidden curriculum as a really mainstream that into conversations in orientations, and also in the classroom. And I think that's where faculty members come in right as to really reflect on some of the ways that the hidden curriculum might show up in their own classrooms and their own practices. And we're possible to be really explicit about where, you know, where sort of typical traditions or academic norms are assumed to be understood, you know, take a second to explain them explain what office hours are, explain how to go about, you know, effectively researching for a paper or structuring a problem set. So I think, you know, just taking the extra step, as a faculty member, you know, they've got a lot on their plates, but it can be really powerful in small steps to really change a student's experience in the classroom. So I think those are some tangible ways that we could see colleges and specific educators doing better at the university level.
Venkat Raman 27:59
Oh, that's, that's really great. I'm imagining, you know, there's like a cheat sheet with a list of things that they ought to, you know, talk about or make, you know, both be made aware, as well as, share with others, where they could focus on, you know, improving or changing things. So I think that's a great way of doing that.
Andrew M 28:25
Venkat Raman 28:25
A couple of things. I mean, thought maybe we could follow up with any advice for all the students international and domestic who are likely to now encounter I mean, obviously, things are changing, but they're still going to have to deal with it. So what are some of the first few things they ought to do?
Yeah, I think just, you know, first of all, knowing that you're not alone, and the experience of this, I think, is really important. seeking out, you know, your peers for support and seeking out those college resources. Both of those, I think, are really important in just reminding yourself that you're not alone in this, when they're comfortable to do so I think, you know, it's it's sort of an unfair burden to put on students who are already having to, to work harder to navigate college environments, but you know, where they're comfortable to also call it out, to ask questions, because if you're struggling with something, chances are someone else's. And I know that might seem like very fundamental advice, but I think wherever students are comfortable in kind of calling out why the hidden curriculum is sort of getting in the way and why some of the norms are difficult to navigate. I think the more we do that across the board, the less power it holds, and the less hidden it is. And so that would be some of my advice as students are Running into these barriers in real time, both to kind of take care of themselves, and hopefully to kind of help make this problem repeat less frequently for students coming up behind them.
Venkat Raman 30:17
[Is] there anything else you want to add to our discussion here? Anything that we haven't touched on or think or something that you want to highlight? I think so.
I mean, I think for me, the takeaway, you know, is, is that for international students, the challenges are not so foreign are so different from an American students experiences, you know, there will be, of course, different ways that they experience it. But I think, you know, understanding that the impacts are in some ways universal, I think, is really powerful. And I hope that, you know, students listening to this, walk away with that feeling of, you know, a little bit more comfort and knowing that, no, we're sort of all in this together. And so yeah, I think that that's an important kind of takeaway here. But really, I've loved having the chance to talk more about this.
Venkat Raman 31:09
Fantastic. So before we sign off, Andrew, you want to tell us where we can find the book and how people can buy it?
Andrew M 31:19
Yes. So it will be available on all of your major retailers on Amazon, Barnes and Noble. And you can find any additional information on my website at Andrew dash Maguire dotnet.
Venkat Raman 31:34
Fantastic. So, Andrew, thank you, as always, lots of luck with the book. And thanks for highlighting this issue. I'm sure all these students will thank you for making them aware. So thank you and you. Hope to talk again, but for now. Take care, be safe.
Andrew M 31:56
Thank you so much Venkat.
Venkat Raman 31:57
Yep, take care.
Hope you enjoyed our podcast with Andrew Maguire on his book Teaching Between the Lines.
Andrew outlines specific areas with examples of the impact of the Hidden Curriculum on International Students with a framework on how to deal with it.
Hope these insights make you aware of the Hidden Curriculum and provide you the tools to combat or harness it.
To find out more about Andrew’s book - check out https://www.andrew-maguire.net/
For your questions or comments on this podcast, please email podcast at almamatters.io [email@example.com].
Thank you all so much for listening to our podcast today.
Transcripts for this podcast and previous podcasts are on almamatters.io forward slash podcasts [almamatters.io/podcasts].
Till we meet again, take care and be safe.
College Access, First-gen students, Office Hours, Hidden Curriculum, Teaching Between the Lines, International Students, College Podcast, US Colleges, College Applications, College Essays.