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Global Diversity in the Classroom

Global Diversity in the Classroom

Supporting International Student Success

Santa Clara University is a global university with students, faculty and staff representing many countries and cultures.  SCU's international students have academic background in education systems that may differ significantly than the US system.  Typically, there is no continuous assessment and classes are graded on the basis of one or two exams; there is little class discussion and office hours do not exist.  Commonly, other education systems outside the US have different approaches to syllabi, group work, class discussions and participation, faculty office hours, and grading.  Creating an intercultural classroom to help all students thrive may include helping students understand how to navigate these different American classroom systems.  Students also benefit from attention to pronounciation international student names, awareness of time zones and holidays that impact international students, among other strategies. 
We are available to consult with faculty on intercultural approaches for communicating their syllabi, evaluations, assignment or other components of classes that may be understood differently by international students.  Please feel free to contact Susan Popko, Associate Provost for International Programs at
Resources for faculty include:
  • NameCoach, name pronunciation tool
  • Global Community Hour Faculty Panel on Teaching and Learning Across Time Zones
  • Special Populations in the Classrooms Presentation
  • How Different Cultures Understand Time
  • Tips for Effective Communication About Time
  • The Weekend in Many Countries is Not Saturday/Sunday
  • Holidays Around the World
  • Effective Strategies for Courses with Online Students
  • Know the Time Zones of Students in Your Courses


Do you want to be sure you and your students pronounce each other’s names correctly? NameCoach is integrated into Camino and lets faculty and students listen to recordings as often as necessary to feel confident they are addressing each other correctly.  NameCoach automatically appears on the left navigation bar of all of your Camino courses.

If you have any questions or need assistance please contact the Instructional Technology team at

Teaching and Learning Across Time Zones

Global Community Hour: Teaching and Learning Across Time Zones

Faculty and students shared their experiences of teaching and learning with time zone differences, including challenges they have faced and strategies for success. 

Thank you to our panelist for their time, energy, and insight: Allia Griffin, Laura Robinson, Rohan Mehta, and Jessica Yuan

Special Populations in the Classroom

What are the needs of international students in the classroom?  What is the data on how international student experience the US higher education system and their classes at SCU/?  This presentation provides an introduction to Special Populations in the Classroom: International Students

How Different Cultures Understand Time

Cultures around the world view time differently and communicating clearly to students how time is viewed in the US – and how you view time related to courses – can help alleviate confusion.  Cultural perspectives on time manifest themselves in manners that can be a source of confusion or conflict.  Consider attitudes toward time in clock-capitol Switzerland versus Mexico.  

Cultures tend to understand time as present-oriented (France), future-oriented (US, Japan), or past-oriented, (India).  Recognize that, in the US we view time as money in our profit-oriented society, and, culturally, our attitudes about how to use time, punctuality, deadlines all flow from this perspective. Note that, of course, individuals may have unique approaches to cultural traits, but as a whole, some attitudes are generally shared by a culture.

Learn more about cultural perspectives on time: 

Tips for Effective Communication About Time

Student learning online may be affected by time zones and scheduling if you require them to attend online sessions or complete work synchronously.  Levels of attention, participation, energy, emotional or psychological issues, learning disabilities, or cognitive abilities may be of concern for students.  To promote student success, faculty who teach online regularly recommend keeping synchronous lectures and discussions short and be mindful of overloading students with too much information and/or visual stimuli. 

  • Consider adopting a standard way of communicating about time, i.e., GMT or Pacific Time, to avoid confusion of “Are we meeting at 5:00 my time or your time?” “Are we meeting at 5:00 a.m. or p.m.?  etc. 
  • Consider adopting a standard way of communicating about dates, e.g., writing out dates: Month, Day, Year, rather than 9/17/20 which can be confusing in cultures where day and month are reversed from the format in the US.
  • Have resources available to disseminate to students about tech support
  • Monitor student engagement and check comprehension, e.g., observe who is opening files, watching videos, accessing course materials and/or consider incorporating frequent quizzes to promote engagement.

The Weekend in Many Countries is Not Saturday/Sunday

In many countries Saturday and Sunday are not the weekend.  In many Islamic countries the weekend may be either Thursday/Friday or Friday/Saturday.  In Brunei, the weekend is Friday and Sunday and people work on Saturdays.  In Nepal, Iran, Palestine, Somalia and Djibouti he weekend is officially only one day – Friday except in Nepal when it is Saturday.

Examples of countries of SCU students with Friday/Saturday weekends:

  • Egypt
  • Iran
  • Israel
  • Jordan
  • Kuwait
  • Malaysia
  • United Arab Emirates

Holidays Around the World

Countries around the world observe different religious and cultural holidays. Surveying students at the beginning of class provides an opportunity for students to share holidays taking place during the term in their country. 

Learn more about holidays around the world: 

Effective Strategies for Courses with Online Students

Santa Clara University is a globally diverse university with students residing in countries around the world engaging in online learning during pandemic.  In developing pedagogical strategies for on-line learning, teaching across time zones can present significant logistical challenges.  When should you schedule class meetings, exams, student collaborations when you and your students are spread across multiple time zones?  The decisions faculty make about how to approach this can have a significant impact on pedagogical effectiveness and positive learning outcomes.  Here are some tips and resources that may be helpful for managing the impact of time zones to create an effective teaching and learning environment.

Know the Time Zones of Students in Your Courses 

For Fall 2020, 41% of SCU’s 1127 international students will be studying from outside the US.  We will have students in 30 countries across 15 time zones spanning a 20 hour time difference.  Awareness of time zones and tips will help in finalizing course delivery plans for student success. 

To help you calibrate your course, you may wish to survey your students at the beginning of the class.   

  • Here are examples of questions to include in your survey:
    • What time zone are you in?  (in relation to GMT)
    • Is there daylight saving time/does the time change, where you are?
    • If yes, when does the time change begin? If yes, when does the time change end?
    • What are the best hours/days to contact you taking into consideration time zone differences?
    • Provide the names and dates of any holidays in your country (outside of the US) this term:
  • Examples of common time zones of SCU students:

*Many countries do not observe Daylight Savings Time or change time zones on dates that differ from the US so the times below should be used as examples only. Communicate with students and refer to websites below for times that are accurate on particular dates.

Helpful time zone planners: