Academic journal article Journal of International Students

Examining Culture's Impact on the Learning Behaviors of International Students from Confucius Culture Studying in Western Online Learning Context

Academic journal article Journal of International Students

Examining Culture's Impact on the Learning Behaviors of International Students from Confucius Culture Studying in Western Online Learning Context

Article excerpt

Due to the rapid development of Information Communication Technology (ICT) and increased competitions worldwide, more and more education institutions are making efforts to globalize their student recruitment strategies and to develop online distance education programs. The direct outcomes include continued growth of international student population in countries such as U.S., U.K., Australia, and Canada (Choudaha & Chang, 2012) and the fast growing of online distance learning (ODL) market. This international education development trend has posed great challenges to educators working with international students.

The need to examine how culture impacts ODL is well documented in the literature (Mclsaac & Gunawardena, 1996; Moore, 1994; PhuongMai, Terlouw, & Pilot, 2005; Pincas, 2001; Rogers, Graham, & Mayes, 2007; Tan, 2009; Wong, 2007). Overlooking the critical role culture plays in online learning will lead to "detrimental educational and psychological consequences" (Chen & Bennett, 2012, p. 677) and students will experience feelings of isolation, frustration, alienation, helpless, upset, anxious, or depressed (Chen & Bennett, 2012). Szilagyi (2013) further indicates, "the deeper cultural layers that affect their [students'] learning process, such as communicative attitudes in class, relationship with the instructor and classmates remain tacit" (p. 594).

The purpose of this study, therefore, is to explore culture's impact on student sojourners' learning behaviors in Western online learning context. In this study, culture is defined as a set of beliefs and values shared by a group of individuals that guide each group member's behaviors (Bennett, 1993). People travelling to different cultures for a short period of time and then return home are considered as sojourners (Berry, Kim, Minde, & Mok, 1987). As four of the eight top origin countries are influenced by Confucius culture and the major learning destination countries represent Western culture (Choudaha & Chang, 2012), this study is specifically designed to examine culture's impact on the learning behaviors of student sojourners from Confucius culture studying in Western online learning context.


Research question decides research method. Document analysis was employed in this study and peer reviewed journal articles were analyzed as primary research data. Focusing on understanding Confucius culture and its impact on online learning behaviors, we began our search by exploring popular education research databases, including ProQuest database, EBSCO, and ERIC. The following key words were used to collect useful research articles: culture, Confucius culture, online learning, e-learning, and distance education. The search results were carefully examined and only those that treated culture and online learning as the main focus of the study were included in the next stage analysis. At the second phase of data collection, only those research studies studying Confucius culture and its impact on student sojourners' learning in ODL environment dominated by Western cultures were included. The reference lists of the articles collected through the second phase of data collection were examined as well to identify more related research studies. Our keyword search yielded 86 articles from the above databases and majority utilized qualitative research methods (i.e., interview, document anlaysis, etc.).

"Keywords-in-context" technique was employed in data analysis (Onwuegbuzie, Leech & Collins, 2012). This technique is useful when studying research literature because context matters. In our data collection process, it was noticed that culture means different things in different contexts. Unless the surrounding words are examined to understand in which context the published study is situated, it is difficult to find appropriate research studies to include in final data analysis. In other words, linking keywords used by the author to the surrounding words and the context, one can truly understand the underlying meaning the author wants to convey to the readers. …

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