The relationships between cultural differences among American and Chinese university students and the design of personal pages on the World Wide Web
Gia-Li Chu, University of Georgia, United States
University of Georgia . Awarded
Culture is a pervasive force in people's life that shapes personality traits and problem-solving tactics, affects thinking processes, and influences lifestyle preferences. Whenever people create something, it is assumed that culture plays a part. An assumption underlying this study is that personal web page designs are also influenced by cultural factors.
The primary purpose of this study was to examine the relationships between cultural differences and the design of personal web pages. A secondary purpose of this study was to explore how culture affects multimedia programs (specifically personal web pages) created by students. The research questions were: (1) What differences can be detected between how American and Chinese students employ symbol systems in their personal web pages? (2) What differences can be detected between American and Chinese students with respect to information preferences and content structure as revealed within their personal web pages? (3) How does culture influence the design and development of personal web pages by American and Chinese students?
The research approach used to address the first two research questions was content analysis. Research participants were 28 students, including 10 American students at The University of Georgia, 9 ethnic Chinese students in The University of Georgia, and 9 ethnic Chinese students in Taiwanese universities. A questionnaire was also used to obtain participants' demographic information. Interviews were conducted to address the last research question to find how cultural factors influenced personal web page design. The participants who were interviewed included 5 American students and 5 Chinese students at The University of Georgia.
By analyzing students' web pages and inquiring about the conceptual processes that guided their designs, this study has shed light on how culture influences learning within a web-based learning environment. Nine cultural categories emerged from the qualitative data analysis that were labeled as follows: (1) expression of affection, (2) family and religion in America, (3) spatial and verbal preferences, (4) “Chinese is who I am,” (5) art and sex, (6) “I changed it because you said to,” (7) “I do it for you”, (8) conformity to instruction, and (9) positive and negative attitudes in design. These categories were further classified into five categories of cultural factors: (1) communication styles, (2) educational attitudes, (3) social relationships, (4) expressions of affection, and (5) social norms.
Recommendations for further research call for extending interviews to Taiwanese students, and for extending the analyses to include factors such as age, gender, and degree objective. Further research into how culture and other individual differences can be and should be accommodated in hypermedia/multimedia learning environments found on the WWW also is recommended.
Chu, G.L. The relationships between cultural differences among American and Chinese university students and the design of personal pages on the World Wide Web. Ph.D. thesis, University of Georgia.
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