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UBC Theses and Dissertations

A unit on French Canadian culture and its effects on student attitudes Krawczyk, Andrew J.


Increased open mindedness towards all cultures has been a long sought after objective of Canada's federal government, and also of British Columbia's Social Studies Curriculum. A principal part of this understanding in the Canadian context lies in an increased appreciation and understanding of each other's cultures by Canada's two largest cultural groups, the British and the French. In order to promote and develop such understanding, a variety of strategies have been suggested as the most effective means of promoting multicultural understanding. Studies seem to indicate that the most effective strategies combine methods of promoting awareness and appreciation of other cultures, with methods which allow for appreciation of one's own culture. It is the purpose of this study to test this hypothesis by examining whether the additional teaching of a component which leads to understanding the French Canadian culture, as a complement to a regular unit on the history of French-English relations in Canada, would increase open mindedness toward French Canadians. Because the study involves attitude change, the concept of attitudes and attitude change was examined. Attitudes in this study were defined as a summary of beliefs and evaluations which an individual may hold toward a specific situation or concept. In order to produce change, therefore, new information would have to be brought in which would question these evaluations. A number of strategies have been suggested to induce such change. The most effective, however, seem to involve introducing new information through experiential strategies which would affect immediately an individual's self concept, and thus induce change. The study was carried out in a senior secondary school in North Vancouver. In 1980 two intact grade eleven classes were used. One class, which served as the control group, was taught a fourteen day unit on the history of French-English relations. The other class, which served as the experimental group, was taught a five day culture component, in addition to the history section. A quasi experimental research design was chosen, with students in both classes being asked to submit paragraph answers to the same questions before, and after, the study. Coders were trained in a method of decoding content designed by Osgood. Three coders were used for the study, and a tabulation chart was created for them to report their findings in a quantitative manner. Inter-rater reliability was calculated in order to determine the degree of consistency among the coders' findings. There was a divergence in these findings, and the results can only be said to be tentative, and inconclusive. Both groups, experimental and control, had lower scores of open mindedness after the study, than before. The experimental group, however, had a far lesser drop after the study, than had the control group. The study does suggest some possibilities for further research using cultural components as strategies for increasing open mindedness among students. Among these is the possibility of trying a similar study among younger students, or utilizing a more objective method of evaluating attitudes, and self concept.

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