First Advisor

LeRay M. Barna

Term of Graduation

Fall 1980

Date of Publication


Document Type


Degree Name

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


Speech Communication




Teacher-student relationships, Role expectation, College teachers -- Attitudes, Foreign students -- Attitudes



Physical Description

1 online resource (3, x, 192 pages)


Communication theory involving the role concept has shown that role expectations and differing evaluations of role behavior can lead to communication breakdowns between persons. Literature pertaining to relations between professors and international students indicates the presence of unfulfilled expectations between them as to how they perform their respective roles. It was therefore hypothesized that some difficulties international students face in the academic world may be due to factors such as differing role expectations. As the literature provided no methodologically based cross-cultural research in this area, the researcher undertook to discover if professors and students evaluate the roles of student and professor differently cross-culturally. The researcher was also interested to learn of other factors that might affect role behavior evaluation such as status, sex, country of origin, and time in country.

The purpose of the research was to: 1) definitively explore the current status of cross-cultural research on the roles of professor and student; 2) develop and administer a questionnaire that would allow a cross-cultural exploration of the role behaviors associated with the roles of student and professor; and 3) analyze the results.

Role behaviors associated with student and professor roles were obtained from a multi-cultural sample and from them a prototype questionnaire was composed of 118 selected role behavior items. This was given to a sample of thirty-four subjects at two week intervals. Forty-five items evaluated at a significance level of .65 or above were termed reliable and included in a final questionnaire that was completed by a cross-cultural sample of 501 professors and students at a large urban university.

The results indicated that culture and status both affect how a role behavior is evaluated, but that culture is the more significant factor. When the evaluations of international students and American students were compared, using the t-Test for comparison of independent sample means, they differed significantly in the evaluation of seventeen items. International students and American professors differed in their evaluation of twenty-three of the forty-five items, whereas when American students' evaluations of the items were compared to those of American professors' there were only five items evaluated differently. These results can be interpreted to mean that American students and American professors perceive these roles more similarly than do international students and American professors.

Using an "etic-emic" classificatory schema there were nineteen "etic" and twenty-six "emic" role behaviors. Of the "emic" role behaviors, culture was determined to be the significant variable for the differing evaluations of sixteen items, status for five items, and both status and culture for one item. For four items is was not possible to determine the primary factor responsible. Further analysis of the data indicated that sex, status as an undergraduate, graduate, or professor, and cultural background or country of origin are other variables that can be isolated out as affecting how a role behavior is evaluated. The significance of the results and suggestions for improving communication between professors and students is addressed and directions for further research suggested.


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