Cross-Cultural Collaboration Whose Culture is it Anyway? Deborah Bosely
Our Definition- Let’s Collaborate! • Instructions: In two minutes, we are going to define, for this class collectively, what collaboration means (or could mean). As the sheet of paper circulates add some (no more than 6) words to what the previous writer says- a continuous trend of thought - to help formulate a definition for collaboration.
An established set of values and a way of thinking and behaving that is passed from generation to generation. Alan C. Purves on culture: -it’s not limited to our private interactions, but influences behavior in classroom and workplace -impacts how we eat, walk, relate to others Definition of Culture
Definition of Collaboration True Collaboration: When the success of the group is paramount and all individuals must contribute to that success, you have true collaboration. No group member can be left behind and everyone within the group will do whatever it takes to reach the common goal. Also, in a truly collaborative situation, each individual within a group needs to succeed in order for the entire group to succeed.
Bosley’s Caveats • No hierarchy of accepted behavior implied- all cultures are ethnocentric • Can’t label a person’s behavior by generalizing to his/her culture • Collaborative groups defined: groups of 3 or more students create one written document and receive both a group grade or the product and an individual grade for their participation in the process • Terms defined: - Euro- North American = white middle class males whose values and cognitive frames are those that dominate educational paradigms - International- collaborators who grew up outside of mainstream America.
“I liked working in my group, but the other students expected me to disagree with them. I could never do that publicly; it would embarrass them too much.” [Japanese student] “I never asked questions because if I did it would make the leader seem as if she didn’t know what she was talking about.” [Vietnamese student] Question: What implications would comments such as these have for us as teachers, technical writers, scientists, [or whatever your designation], when we seek to engage others- students, researchers, or other group participants- in a collaborative situation? Bosley- Her students on collaboration.
Cultural Differences in Behavior-1 4 cultural characteristics influencing grp. behav. • Group or Individual Emphasis • Achievement & Responsibility • Decision-Making Strategies • Thinking & Communication Styles *Students age 14 workingon classroom project in agroup- Golden Valley, Minnesota, USA.
Euro- North American Ideal of the individual Emphasis on achieve- ment-competition Decision-making- Euro centric: solipsism Rational Problem solved= correct answer Oral messages: Talkative- provide context orally Written messages: Clarity important. General>>elaborate International Collective experience Emphasis on “just being” –harmony More assenting in decision making Emotive Problem solved= overcome difficulty Oral messages: Quiet- rely on context for meaning Written messages: Creative expression. Beauty, surprise, “flow.” Cultural Differences in Behavior- 2
What’s problematic? • Successful collaboration is often stymied by culture-bound behaviors and the expectations placed upon achievement and responsibility as appropriate group behavior • Euro-North American criteria for success and standards of achievement are not universal. • We tend to evaluate students in a collaborative endeavor by the quality of the group’s product and individual participation. Yet, we want our ENA students to show group allegiance, but reward individual behavior; and we expect our International students to embrace individualism because that’s how part of the project is graded. This dichotomy is problematic for some students. • When individual achievement is emphasized that person’s relationship within the group is undermined.
Bosley’s Response “I had to change the premises that grounded everything I taught about collaborative work.” She: >rewrote individual evaluation forms >re-evaluated choices for grouping students >redesigned her assessment of final products.
Questions We Might Ask?? • Given that the means by which we design and evaluate collaborative groups are culture-bound, what implications does this have for how we design collaborative groups? • How can we dissolve inherent hierarchical structures that are sometimes evident in some collaborative interactions? • How might gender impact collaboration within mixed groups?
Making the Collaborative Project More Responsive to Cognitive Needs of non-Westerners. Pedagogical Strategies: ►Discuss communication style differences. ►Develop role-playing depicting various cultures’ responses to group situations ► Keep record of and discuss a variety of culture-bound behaviors ►Have students interact with international employees at local companies and discuss differences. ►Allow students to voice their own sanctioned, cultural behavior in discussion groups ►Assign values clarification exercises to give students opportunity to see that differences do not mean judgments ►Be prepared to deal with resistance to cultural integration.
Theories • Fish & Bartholomae [1980’s] knowledge as an individual construction >> knowledge is a function of the linguistic norm of a discourse community [writing as a social process] • Alexis de Toqueville [French aristocratic who came to US in 1831, and later wrote Democracy in America] - In his analysis of the American character, uses the term “individualism”- “a calm and considered feeling that disposes a citizen to isolate himself . . . he gladly leaves the greater society to looks after itself.” His solution- a strong tradition of community and public discourse. • John Dewey [1889, School and Society]- interactionist and constructivist approach to learning and knowledge.
Theories Cont’d Dewey cont’d Dewey’s “progressive” education ideas that learning occurs in interaction, that social context is of utmost importance in the classroom, and that we should reform our traditional model (which privileges the individual) by enhancing “the moving spirit of the whole group . . . held together by participation in common activities.” Supported seeing the education of each individual in a social and communal context. • Paolo Friere [1968 Pedagogy of the Oppressed]- Challenges the traditional teaching of writing; calls for a commitment to social and political contextualizing of all learning and a renegotiation of power and authority in all classroom. Much work on literacy.
Theories Cont’d • Peter Elbow [1973/1998 Writing Without Teachers]- Encouraged writers to work in groups and read aloud for oral responses. In spite of this however, his “work rests on assumptions about individualism and individual creativity that fail to problematize traditional conceptions of the author and deny the social nature of writing. • Kenneth Bruffee [[1984 Collaborative Learning and the Conversations of Mankind] Social construction and collaborative learning- Who we are and what we write and know are functions of interaction and community. Thus writing and reading are essentially and naturally collaborative, social acts” • Others Ede & Lunsford mentioned- James Berlin, John Trimbur, Robert Slavin.
Challenges to the Pedagogy of Collaboration and Cultural Barriers to Communication. Ede & Lunsford: • Collaborative learning theories failed to challenge traditional concepts of individualism – the way knowledge is constructed among members of a community- single authorship, social nature of learning. • “Historical, social, theoretical and pedagogical forces – all centered on a destabilized author/writer and on context, community and the social nature of knowledge/learning- present challenges to higher education in general, and teaching of composition in particular” • These challenges: power & authority in the classroom (organization, evaluation), classroom design/setting, curriculum design, examination system, time constraints (on group cohesion, content coverage, learning)
Challenges- Cont’d Ede & Lunsford- cont’d • Inclusiveness: recognizing, valuing and incorporating individual diversity into the whole. Horton: • Communication challenges across barriers of language and culture- in international markets, but even within a single country
Challenges Cont’d Horton cont’d 2. Graphics as a universal language- What we should and shouldn’t do when designing documents for international use. Bosley Mentioned- by Ede & Lunsford (p.118)-focused on building collaborative writing in classroom contexts (emphasizing cultural constraints)- touched on the socio-cultural contexts more so than theoretical standpoints highlighted by Ede & Lunsford, but both have implications for the pedagogy of collaboration and its effectiveness in higher education. Bosley and Horton intersect at the point of cultural differences impacting communication.
Questions?- from Ede/Lunsford • It is important to address issues not only of gender, but class, race and power about collaborative writing in institutional settings. What are the consequences of a goal-oriented view of collaboration for women and students of color in our classrooms? How about in the workplace? • If in a Bakhtinian sense all writing, whether drafted by an individual working alone or by a group of persons working together, is collaborative, how can we best help students recognize and build upon this *heteroglossic understanding of language? *diversity of voices, styles of discourse, points of view: distinct varieties within a single linguistic code.
Questions? • Which is a better collaborative writing assignment- one that strives to enable students to confront language in all its *heteroglossic richness or one that helps students learn how practically and efficiently to get the job of writing together done? • What are some cultural implications for designing graphics for international documents considering the trend of communicators using this tool as a universal language? *diversity of voices, styles of discourse, points of view: distinct varieties within a single linguistic code.
Presented by: Carol Manget- Johnson Dr. Baotong Gu ENGL 8115- Technical Writing 8 October, 2007