Chinese, Korean, and Taiwanese students in discussion-oriented graduate education
May, Elizabeth Anne
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Students from China, Korea, and Taiwan make up a large percentage of international students in many Western graduate programs; however they often have difficulties with participation in class discussions. Their less participatory class behavior is in stark contrast to their vocal behavior outside of class; therefore my research began with a curiosity about these contextually quiet students. This study was designed to elicit firsthand accounts of factors that hinder full participation, as well as suggestions for instructors to use in culturally sensitive course design. The data was gathered via two hour instant messaging interviews with six participants, one male and one female each from China, Korea, and Taiwan. The results showed that while the inhibitive factors that participants cited were similar to what was found in the literature, an additional factor of personal resolve seemed to affect participation levels. In addition participants suggested contextual items that could be addressed in course design that they felt would have a positive impact on their participation. The results led to the development of a model for instructors that included structure, time, attention, and relationship as aspects to attend to (S.T.A.R.), and the results further showed that culturally sensitive instructional design may not be as complicated as instructors think. Rather than focusing on one cultural group, the S.T.A.R. model could be used to assist instructors in designing their courses for any group that may be less participatory. The results further led to the conclusion that course design for the less participatory student could assist quieter students while doing no harm to the more talkative students, and is therefore a wise choice for instructors.