Cross -cultural experiences of instructing Java programming and information technologies: An Asian instructor's narrative knowing and autobiographical reflections on teaching in urban American and historical African American colleges
Derived from two teaching cases set in politically charged, and culturally challenging situations, the dissertation study will use the narrative inquiry research method in general and autobiographic reflection in particular to shed light on how a minority instructor's knowledge shapes and is shaped by his cross-cultural teaching experiences in American higher education. Situated in an urban university, the first storied case will illustrate how the faculty—comprised of primarily White male members—exercises power to oppress the students through both claimed objectives and hidden agendas and how the students, in turn, reshape the power exploitation in such a way that it eventually causes the faculty members to struggle. My position, as an Asian minority instructor and a foreign student at the same time, separates me from others who are in the White male guild, which causes me to struggle both as an instructor and in my graduate study program, but simultaneously provides unique opportunities for me to connect to my students and allows me to better observe how higher education power exploitation and struggle evolves.
By way of contrast, the second teaching storied case centers on my struggle as a minority instructor in a culturally challenging environment—a historical African American university. While my identity as an international scholar is similar to most faculty members in the college, it entirely differs from the student population and thus disconnects me from the cultural heritage that permeates in the school and is represented by the student population. The disconnections between the students and me create numerous obstacles in the teaching/learning process, which, in turn, motivate my autobiographic reflections as well as my desire to learn how to survive in the culturally demanding milieu. Independently, each teaching case focuses on specific aspects of the respective teaching contexts, i.e. power and politics in the first storied case and cultural teaching in the second one. Nevertheless, both storied cases share a common element in the knowledge development process—my cultural identity as an Asian minority instructor—which inevitably influences how my cross-cultural understandings and/or misunderstandings emerge in two contexts. On one hand, implications and lessons derived from these teaching cases merely reflect my personal experiences and cannot be generalized to other teaching contexts. On the other hand, the social, political, and cultural issues that bubble to the fore are arguably common factors experienced in American higher education in general and urban universities and African American universities in particular. The insights gained from these unique teaching cases may not be as limited as what appears at first brush. In the end result, reflections on the philosophy of education, cross-cultural education, narrative inquiry, and the development of teachers' knowledge will be provided. The meanings, implications, limitations, of this dissertation study, and avenues of future research will also be highlighted.
0710: Educational software
0745: Higher education