Context, Culture & the Classroom

I was introduced to several new constructs this semester including Blooms Taxonomy, Kirkpatrick’s Four Levels of Assessment, and Hofstede’s Cultural Dimensions. The latter I discovered doing a deep dive on Chapter 13 of Grassian and Kaplowitz, (2009, p. 251-6). I thought that the authors’ discussion of high context cultures vs. low context ones was very interesting because it examined cross-cultural issues in information literacy in a very meta way.

In high context societies learners place a high degree of faith in the authority of the instructor and strive to create an exact replica of the material (Grassian and Kaplowitz, 2009, p. 252). An individual from a low context society favors individualism, originality and is comfortable with ambiguity (p. 252), which is often expressed by questioning authority. The discussion also delves into the differences between connected and separate learners (p. 253). It’s easy to see that there is both a wide variety of contexts and levels of connectedness that learners bring to the classroom, moreover individuals will frequently have crossover traits from one or the other. This mirrors what is often seen in a higher education learning situation, as people who are drawn to education are usually more open to change.

After reading this section of the textbook, I decided to look up some of the references and this is what led me to Hofstede (2016). His work deals with culture in general, so I searched the Digital Commons Network (2016) and found an open access article about an online course offered to students at the University of Massachusetts, Boston and at the University of Pannonia, Veszprem, Hungary (Romar, Sas, Yukhananov, Girelli, and Hristov, 2011).

The authors found difficulties in some of the technical aspects of conducting a course across such a wide time difference, but also experienced some issues with collaboration (Romar, et al, 2011, p.40) and motivation (p.47), (One of the recommendations made by the team that designed and implemented the course, was to allow for some informal interaction to enable the learners to get to know one another while testing out the software that would be used for the class (p.47).


Digital Commons Network. (2016). Retrieved November 27, 2016 from

Geert Hofstede: Cultural Dimensions. (2016). Retrieved November 27, 2016 from

Grassian, E. & Kaplowitz, .R. (2009). Information Literacy Instruction: Theory and Practice, Second Edition. New York: Neal-Schuman.

Romar, E.J., Sas, A., Yukhananov, I., Girelli, A. & Hristov, T. (2011). “Two Markets, Two Universities”: An Experimental, Cross-Cultural, and Cross Institutional Course Using Online Educational Technologies, Human Architecture: Journal of the Sociology of Self-Knowledge, 9(3), 37-49. Retrieved from