First Advisor

Devorah Lieberman

Term of Graduation

Summer 1995

Date of Publication


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (M.A.) in Speech Communication


Speech Communication




College teachers -- United States, College teachers -- China, College students -- United States, College students -- China



Physical Description

1 online resource (2, 84 pages)


Although intercultural scholars examine the differences in cultural values, beliefs, and attitudes between the U.S. and China, few specifically have studied cultural differences between U.S. and Chinese university classrooms. This study examines behavioral differences exhibited by U.S. teachers in U.S. university classrooms and Chinese teachers in Chinese university classrooms.

This research addresses three areas of significance. First, Chinese students studying in the U.S. who read this thesis may be better able to cope with the U.S. educational system and communicate more effectively with both U.S. students and teachers. Second, this research may help U.S. university teachers to better understand the Chinese culture and Chinese students. Third, this research may increase U.S. teachers' awareness of and sensitivity to the increasingly multicultural classroom environment in the U.S.

Three male university teachers in the U.S. and three male university teachers in China were observed and videotaped in this study. The data analysis was guided by categories establish by Gudykunst (1988), Hofstede (1986), and Lieberman (1993) as behavioral indicators of cultural styles.

Several interesting findings occurred among overall descriptive observation and qualitative accounts of observations. First, a powerful trend of behavioral differences exhibited in the classroom by U.S. university teachers and Chinese university teachers was found. The findings in this search strongly support findings by Gudykunst (1988), Hofstede (1986), and Lieberman (1993) that U.S. university teachers exhibited far more individualist/direct communication styles and small power distance/personal communication styles than Chinese teachers, while Chinese teachers exhibited more collectivist/indirect communication styles and large power distance/contextual communication styles than U.S. teachers. Second, the results of this research provide valuable insights for both U.S. university teachers and Chinese university teachers; that is, culture reflects teachers' and students' values, assumptions, and behaviors. U.S. culture reflects values, assumptions, and behaviors, such as individualism, direct communication styles, small power distance, and personal communication styles. However, Chinese culture reflects collectivism, indirect communication styles, large power distance, and contextual communication styles.


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