Pedagogy and Japanese culture in a distance learning environment
Bodi O. Anderson, Northern Arizona University, United States
Northern Arizona University . Awarded
Current theoretical models of distance learning are driven by two impetuses: a technical CMC element, and a pedagogical foundation rooted strongly in the Western world, and driven by social constructivism. By and large these models have been exported throughout the world as-is. However, previous research has hinted at potential problems with these models as they relate to cultural factors. The primary purpose of this study is to explore how cultural factors influence learners in social constructivist based pedagogical models of distance learning in international settings, namely Japan. The theoretical foundation behind the inquiry in this current study is based on previous research which has suggested potential problems with the pedagogical ideology behind current models of distance learning and cultural factors in learners. Key cultural dimensions were operationalized and theoretically linked them to measurable models of components of successful distance learning.
This present study employs a mixed-method design and three instruments, two primarily linked to research questions and one to confirm cultural factors in the participant population, in order to examine the role of culture in Japanese distance learning. The first instrument is a discourse analysis coding scheme developed by Curtis and Lawson (2001), which analyzes linguistic data representative of collaborative learning in the form of online forums postings. The second instrument, the CMCQ survey examines degrees of social presence. Finally, an instrument to measure levels of cultural dimensions in smaller populations, the CVSCALE was employed.
Findings from this present study provide strong empirical evidence and conclude that cultural factors have a significant impact on how learners perceive, experience and interact in distance learning environments, based on both the medium and pedagogy aspects. Based on these findings, and with reference to salient cultural factors, it is suggested that current models of distance learning in neither Japan nor the United States are adequate to meet the unique needs of Japanese distance learners. Following this a culturally inclusive model of distance learning is proposed, and building on this a theoretical model for distance learning for Japanese learners is conceptualized.
Anderson, B.O. Pedagogy and Japanese culture in a distance learning environment. Ph.D. thesis, Northern Arizona University.
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