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Learning considered within a cultural context : Confucian and Socratic approaches Tweed, Roger G.

Abstract

A Confucian-Socratic framework provides a structure for analyzing culture-influenced aspects of academic learning. It is argued that these ancient exemplars model approaches to learning that continue to differentiate students within a modern Canadian postsecondary context. Specifically, it is argued that Chinese cultural influence increases the likelihood that a student will report Confucian learning beliefs and behaviors and that Western cultural influence increases the likelihood that a student will report Socratic learning beliefs and behaviors. Socrates valued private and public questioning of widely accepted knowledge and expected students to evaluate others' beliefs and to generate and consider their own hypotheses. Confucius valued effortful and pragmatic acquisition of essential knowledge. Confucius also valued poetic summary and behavioral reform. Two self-report studies, one (pilot) expert study, and one work sample study assess the utility of this framework in a Canadian context. The self-report studies provide evidence that the framework is reflective of modern cultural differences as expressed in a Western postsecondary context; however, the work sample study produced mainly null results. Consequences of cultural differences in Western postsecondary contexts are discussed.

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