Publication Date

5-2015

Advisor(s) - Committee Chair

Stephen Miller (Co-Director), Jie Zhang (Co-Director), Laura McGee

Degree Program

Educational Leadership Doctoral Program

Degree Type

Doctor of Education

Abstract

Through an experimental intervention of a four-week cultural project based on the intergroup contact theory, this study sought to (a) explore the possible pedagogical effects on participants’ levels of Intercultural Sensitivity; and (b) investigate the complex interactions between learners’ Intercultural Sensitivity, Foreign Language Motivation, and their Language and Cultural Backgrounds. Sixty-eight Chinese learning students from a southcentral American university initially participated in the study, whereas only 43 participants completed the required activities and were pretested and posttested on Intercultural Sensitivity and Foreign Language Motivation. The 21 experimental group participants were instructed to complete four cultural assignments during February 2014, namely, interview, skit, news analysis, and sponsor of a cultural event. In contrast, the 22 control group participants continued with their “business-as-usual” language and cultural instructions throughout the study. Three findings were noted based on the pretest and posttest survey data analyses: (a) statistically significant correlations exist between Intercultural Sensitivity and Foreign Language Motivation, after controlling for the two most influential Language and Cultural Background factors (i.e., Parental Encouragement and Exposure to the Target Language Culture); (b) the four-week innovative culture learning program failed to produce any statistically significant impact on participants’ levels of Intercultural Sensitivity, in addition to no statistically significant concurrent effects yielded on participants’ levels of Foreign Language Motivation; and (c) three Language and Cultural Background factors (i.e., Parental Encouragement, Exposure to the Target Language Culture, and Chinese Learning History) were significantly related to participants’ responsiveness towards innovative pedagogical approaches in culture learning. Implications of the current study include (a) strategic integration of language and culture learning in foreign language education to boost and sustain learners’ language motivation; (b) alignment of specific pedagogical approaches with individual learners’ previous language and cultural backgrounds; and (c) implementation of preventive measures to cope with the learning curve phenomenon (e.g., culture shock and learner fatigue) in foreign language and culture learning.

Disciplines

Educational Leadership | International and Comparative Education | International and Intercultural Communication