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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Learners' conceptions of cross-cultural orientation Liu, Diane M.


With the increase in interaction among people of different cultures and the growing awareness of the importance of strong cross-cultural understanding and communication skills, the need for cross-cultural orientation programs continues to increase. Scholars and practitioners have only just begun to examine trends in cross-cultural orientations in an attempt to draw together theory and practice. Much of this research however, is presented from the perspective of instructors or program developers. Thus, the purpose of this study is to look at cross-cultural orientations from the learners' perspective. This study examines the learners' conceptions in an attempt to obtain a wider understanding of the cross-cultural orientation phenomenon. The research was guided by an interpretive perspective and a qualitative technique. Two series of interviews with the learners of a cross-cultural orientation program, classroom observations, interviews with the instructors and program documents provided the data for this study. Analysis of the data indicated that the learners' perspective, participation in and control of orientation programs were important themes to address.' Moreover, the learners' held varying conceptions of these two themes. With regards to the theme of participation, a few learners felt that orientation programs should mainly present information while the majority of them perceived that orientation programs should present information as well as provide opportunities for related experiences. Thus, some saw themselves as passive participants, while others emphasized the importance of being active. Two conceptions also emerged with regards to the theme of control of orientation programs. Again, there were learners who perceived that orientation programs should be controlled by the instructor, while majority clearly understood orientation programs to be controlled by both the instructor and the learners. Furthermore, the concepts of communication, collaboration and understanding in the orientation process were also emphasized. While these four varying conceptions represented different ways in which the learners understood the cross-cultural orientation phenomenon, the analysis of the data also indicated that in actual practice, these conceptions were further complicated by the dynamics and the complexities of the nature of cross-cultural orientations. In exploring the learners' conceptions of cross-cultural orientation programs, this study provided a different perspective to understanding the cross-cultural orientation phenomenon. It identified the importance of paying closer attention to the adult learner in orientations and the need for further research in the area.

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