The correlation between learner autonomy and cultural sensitivity in Japanese university students studying abroad
The purpose of the mixed methods correlational research and grounded theory (GT) study was to investigate the direction and degree of association between cultural sensitivity and learner autonomy in a purposive sample of 32 Japanese university students in a 4-week, intensive English study abroad and homestay program at a Canadian university. Lack of English communicative ability may limit the career prospects of many Japanese graduates and employees (Aspinall, 2003; Hamada, 2008b). Low levels of learner autonomy in Japanese students may hinder the development of English fluency (Nix, 2002; O’Dowd, 2005). In addition to English ability, organizations increasingly require employees with high degrees of cross-cultural adaptability to function effectively in the global economy (Mead, 2005; Schmidt, Conaway, Easton, & Wardrope, 2007). The survey instrument in the study was the first Japanese translation of the Cross-Cultural Adaptability Inventory (CCAI; Kelley & Meyers, 1995). Qualitative data included bilingual, Japanese-English student journals, a collaborative DVD project, and a GT focus group interview (Charmaz, 2006; Rubin & Rubin, 2005). The majority of research participants experienced a significant increase in Personal Autonomy (PA). Test results indicated a highly significant, positive correlation between PA and Cultural Sensitivity (CS) for both pretest (r = .593, p < .001) and posttest (r = .476, p < .01) CCAI scores. The results of multiple regression analyses indicated that Emotional Resilience (ER) was the only significant predictor of PA in both the pretest and posttest models. Recommendations include 10 best practices and corporate sponsorship of study abroad programs as a cost-effective method to enhance the management and leadership training of Japanese students and employees.
0455: Multicultural Education
0525: Educational psychology
0703: Organizational behavior
0745: Higher education