Theses Doctoral

The Experiences of U.S. Faculty Adapting to Cultural Differences When Teaching in China

Chan, Peter Wai

This qualitative modified case study was constructed to investigate U.S. facultymembers’ perceptions of cultural differences in the Chinese classroom and how they learn to cope with and adapt to these differences in their teaching practice. The study is based on the following assumptions: (1) U.S. visiting faculty members will not easily share their insights and their personal experiences of teaching in China. (2) Some U.S. faculty might not care to change their teaching methods because of the short-term overseas teaching assignments. (3) U.S. faculty members are willing to embrace different cultures. The study site is at a U.S. fashion college. The primary data sources were collected from an in-depth interview with 22 U.S. faculty members who teach in China and the Philosophical of Adult Education Inventory.

This modified case study seeks to understand how U.S. instructors who teach in China on a short-term basis, learn to adapt to an entirely different culture as they confront it in their classrooms. The major findings of this study suggest that the participants were aware of the cultural differences between Chinese classrooms and American classrooms. The participants also encountered substantial cultural-based obstacles in China, which they overcame through the use of new teaching styles. Moreover, the findings identified two dissimilar perspectives: (1) Maintainers, those who do not change or adjust much in their teaching style, (2) Enthusiasts, those who make adjustments to their teaching style in order to accommodate the Chinese students' needs, augmenting the students’ learning outcomes.

The overarching recommendation from this study suggests that both the U.S. Apparel University and the China Yifang program administrators are advised to implement an action research study every 4 to 6 years to examine and fine-tune the existing collaboration program.

Geographic Areas


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More About This Work

Academic Units
Organization and Leadership
Thesis Advisors
Volpe, Marie
Ed.D., Teachers College, Columbia University
Published Here
July 15, 2021