Thursday, January 24, 2008

Dissertation ideas


The complexities of cross-cultural interface in a "distance": Interpreting an international distance learning program in a Midwest university

Purpose of the study

To provide a description of interpretations and understanding of the complex nature of cross-cultural distance learning in a Midwest university.

Research questions

Major question
How might we model the development and experience of a cross-cultural university curriculum in distance technology?

(1) What are the relationships between participants, technologies, and contexts in the development of an international distance learning program? (e.g., teacher-teacher, teacher-student, student-student, administration-teacher, teacher-technology, student-technology, technology-culture interactions)
(2) How does a teacher integrate distance technology into his/her cross-culture studies curriculum?
(3) How do the students understand and interpret their cross-cultural encounters through the international distance learning program?

Literature Review
Key words:
International/cross-cultural education -> academic growth/educated person/
Intercultural competency/Digital literacies/Globalization
Professional development/teacher readiness/motivation
Novice-expert experience (teacher-teacher interaction)
Digital natives-immigrants experience (digital disconnect) (teacher-student interaction)
Instructional design (modules)
Models/frameworks of relationships, factors, constructs, technique

Research design/Methodology

To meet the purpose this study will examine the development and implementation of a interactive videoconference-based international distance learning program developed by a Midwest American University and foreign Universities. (Use pseudonyms for proposal?)

One possibility is IDEN (pseudonym), a culture studies program currently organized through the Global Media Network, Center for International Programs, and the Honors College. Selected students from the Honors College get the opportunity to learn about cultures of three different countries by participating in a course taught through digital video conferencing technology.

The normal procedure of a IDEN class is described as the following: "before the classes begin, each country is paired up with one another. After the first five weeks, the partners are switched, until each class has met with every country. Each course is customized to cover the topics which the students are most interested in. The students are assigned a partner and are required to correspond with one another by email and MSN Chat. There is a group conference during the first ten minutes of class. Afterwards, half of the class stays for another personalized video conference session, while the other half goes to a computer lab to have one on one conversations with their international partners through chat. Throughout the semester, collaborative papers are written by each student and their partner."

Currently the program is under the change of leadership. The next course won't be offered until Spring 2009. The new leader of this program has never taught a IDEN course before. Getting to know how He is going to make things work will be part of my research interest.

Ethnography will be considered as the primary research method for this study. Sources of data will consist of the written transcripts of the interviews, online exchanges, pre- and post-course surveys, journals, participant observations, and archived documents.

Data Analysis

Upon the completion of data collection, I will examine and reexamine the data in search of themes and integration in the data to arrive at a number of themes. Triangulation among asking questions, observing, interviewing, peer review, and analyzing documents and transcripts will help to integrate the analysis.


* June 2008 Comprehensive exam
* July 2008 Proposal defense
* August 2008 IRB
* Fall 2008 Start data collection and analysis. Building rapport and network with research participants (instructor, technology staff, administration, and students); literature review; going through previous archives and documents of the IDEN program; interview; fieldnotes
* Spring 2009 Continue data collection and analysis: Participant observation in the IDEN class;
* May 2009 Data analysis, interpretation and dissertation writing
* June 2009 Finalizing
* July 2009 Defense

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