I have noticed big cultural differences in lecture behavior. In this post, I am analyzing the lecture behavior of students from different nationalities. I am trying to find out why students act the way they act in lectures: what is behind these differences?
In my opinion, one big factor must be the differences between individualistic and collectivistic cultures. People from collectivistic cultures tend to be afraid of confrontation and conflicts. This can be seen in lectures: when there is a debate between students, hardly ever someone from a collectivistic country rises their hand. This is due to loss of face concept, which arises from the eastern culture. In western cultures, person and opinion are thought as separate things. In eastern cultures, on the other hand, people think that everything is connected. Therefore “wrong” opinion (that differs from the common opinion) might lead to loss of face. In addition, collectivists tend to take disagreements more personally. This has to do with the fact that whereas individualists give the priorities to tasks, collectivists give the priority to relationships. Therefore eastern students seek group harmony, when western students focus on facts and the issue itself, wanting to find out the right answer.
Another significant factor could be the differences in power distance. Have you noticed that many western people have difficulties in accepting authority? It is hard for them to accept that someone is in a way above them, and they should obey him or her. This can be seen in lectures: students from low power distance cultures seem to protest a bit against the professor’s authority. Among high power distance (eastern) cultures, it is a whole new ballgame. They are used to the fact that power is distributed unequally. In their culture, teachers are highly respected and it feels natural to do what he or she says. Due to high power distance, eastern students can also feel uncomfortable with professors that want to be called by first names.This is just a peek into the cultural differences in lecture behavior. Have you noticed these kinds of differences? Does my analysis seem legitimated?
Text: Anna Rassi, a student in Independent Study in English course