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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Ethnocultural dimensions of the university adviser/advisee relationship Carpenter, Susan Lynn


When observing in a Canadian undergraduate university academic advising office I noticed that Caucasian Canadian students were more likely to get their needs met by an adviser than Asian or Asian Canadian students were. Advisers were more accommodating toward students who were more vocally assertive. However, Asian students were less likely to question the adviser. This behaviour is characteristic of an Eastern communication style which is listening=centred, and grounded in politeness and "saving-face", especially with those of authority, like an adviser. Hence, the purposes of this study were: (1) to find out if students from various cultural backgrounds have different assumptions about interacting with academic advisers; (2) to operationalize Hofstede's (1980) dimensions of culture to measure university adviser/advisee relationships; and (3) to examine the extent to which Hofstede's dimensions of culture are usable when deployed in a study of advising. The study included the use of a new Adviser/Advisee Relationship Scale (AARS) which I designed to ascertain students' assumptions about interacting with advisers. Over 1200 undergraduate students at the University of British Columbia completed the survey. The questionnaire had three components: (1) the AARS; (2) a standardised five-factor personality test; and (3) questions about demographic characteristics. This study showed that only one of Hofstede's (1980) dimensions of culture, Uncertainty Avoidance, remained intact after factor analysis of items in the AARS. Yet, three new dimensions emerged: (1) Nervous Helplessness; (2) Manipulative Assertiveness; and (3) Passive Compliance. Three cultural variables - (1) Self- Defined Culture, (2) First Language, and (3) Country of Birth - correlated with students' responses to the AARS and personality test.

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