Culture and perceptions of power in teacher-student communication
The objective of this study was to find out if national culture impacts the phenomenon of power as it is found in teacher-student communication at the University of Jyväskylä. The study is pertinent and relevant because of the increasingly rapid internationalization that is happening in the Finnish higher education system. Understanding aspects of intercultural teacher-student communication will be important for the future. A qualitative research process was chosen for this study and the data was collected by conducting in-depth interviews with 10 international students. They were asked about their experiences, perceptions and feelings while communicating with Finnish professors. Analysis and interpretation of the data indicated that the cultural background of students did impact their expectancies and interpretation regarding teacher power. They experienced expectancy violations with respect to the unanticipated informality of Finnish professors characterized by informal methods of address, friendliness and an apparent lack of authority. The results were analyzed primarily by using Hofstede’s and Schwartz’s cultural dimensions, face negotiation theory and politeness theory by Brown & Levinson and Scollon & Scollon and with Expectancy Violations Theory by Burgoon. The overall conclusion is that the cultural differences between Finnish professors and international students do have an impact on power in teacher-student communication. Expectancy violations of this power led to negative feelings of frustration, disappointment and lack of motivation in the respondents. On the other hand, some of the respondents indicated that they also felt more comfortable with the Finnish system and their expectations had changed. ...
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