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An Examination of Chinese Graduate Students’ Intercultural Competence through Digital Storytelling: A Cultural Plunge Project
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This qualitative study explores the intercultural competence of students from the People’s Republic of China through creating a digital story based on a “cultural plunge” assignment in a graduate class for pre- and in-service teachers in the College of Education at a large public university in the Southwestern United States. The participants were required to “immerse” themselves in a culture substantially different from their own, and create a digital story to present what they had experienced and to reflect on what they had learned about others and themselves. Along with examining the content of the digital stories based on the VALUE model of intercultural competence, the researcher conducted semi-structured interviews to uncover the participants’ perspectives on the cultural plunge project, their intercultural competence, and the digital storytelling process. The three research questions were: 1) What were the attitudes of participants about using digital storytelling for their cultural plunge project? 2) How did engaging in the cultural plunge project affect their intercultural competence? And 3) how did the participants find that using the digital storytelling technique helped them meet the goals of the cultural plunge project? The researcher and two independent coders conducted content analysis to identify the dimensions and perspectives reflected in the digital stories and interviews. The results showed that Chinese graduate students changed their attitudes toward using digital storytelling in the cultural plunge project, as, in the beginning, they had little interest in the project and were unsure about how to use the technology. In the end, they reported the project was interesting and valuable, and a good prompt for reflection. Additionally, the content analysis revealed the presence of the three VALUE dimensions of knowledge, skills, and attitudes, found to be related to the development of cultural competence. Through this assignment, the students learned about and reflected upon cultural differences in family life, personal relationships, learning, civic responsibility, and ways of viewing the world. Such knowledge is profoundly vital to navigate the interconnected environment of the 21st century successfully. One implication is that the cultural plunge digital story helped prepare these future educators to work with culturally diverse students.
Wang, Liangyan (2019). An Examination of Chinese Graduate Students’ Intercultural Competence through Digital Storytelling: A Cultural Plunge Project. Doctoral dissertation, Texas A&M University. Available electronically from