Is all culture learning created equal : students' perceptions of Persian language and culture
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This study explores how cultural inquiry was integrated into a third-year Persian class via printed texts, film, WebQuests and PowerPoint presentations, and how that cultural inquiry was made sense of and understood by the students in the course. Specifically, this qualitative study addresses two research questions: 1. How do students experience the cultural inquiry pedagogy? 2. How do students' understandings about Persian culture develop? The study’s participants were four college students in a fifth semester Persian language course at a large southwestern university during fall of 2009. Students were exposed to two sets of cultural integration including two films and WebQuest activities. The collected data included a demographic questionnaire, classroom observations, individual interviews and students’ reflective journals. Data were analyzed using Constant Comparative Method (Glaser & Strauss, 1967). A major finding of this study was that that in all four cases, participants felt they benefited from the content presented through multimedia and technology and the knowledge they gained through the cultural inquiry activities contributed to the development of their cultural awareness. In addition, the development of learners’ cultural knowledge and awareness was another important finding of this study. The study also revealed the deconstruction of some of the stereotypes that students brought with them to the classroom. Through the cultural inquiry pedagogy and exposure to different types of texts and group discussions, some of these stereotypes were deconstructed and new ideas were formulated. Another important finding of the study was the importance of utilizing cultural inquiry pedagogy. This study showed in particular the crucial role of group discussions, the importance of pre- and post- viewing activities related to filmic texts and WebQuest activities as benefiting the students most in their cultural inquiry. The study’s findings have implications for educators and curriculum developers to understand better the kinds of experiences and opportunities students have when they are engaged in cultural inquiry activities and are exposed to multimedia and technology, which contribute to the development of their cultural knowledge and awareness.
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