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Cultural Mismatches in the Multicultural Science Classroom

Journal of Underrepresented and Minority Progress / March 2020


teacher helps female student blue shirt

The student body in university science classrooms is increasingly diverse
demographically and this change brings with it an increased chance of
mismatch between professor’s expectations and students’ behaviors. Being
aware of how cultural expectations influence teaching and learning is the first
step in understanding and overcoming these mismatches in order to help all
students succeed. This involves making expectations clear, particularly about
homework requirements (Ludwig et al., 2011), and defining the line between
collaboration and cheating (Craig et al., 2010). When possible, professors
should be flexible regarding different cultures’ ideas of time (Hall, 1983),
family obligations (Hoover, 2017), and the social power structure (Hofstede,
1986; Yoo, 2014). At the same time, professors should maintain high
expectations of all students regardless of ethnic background (Rosenthal &
Jacobson, 1968). Drawing from published research as well as interview and
survey data, we highlight ways for both professors and students to create an
atmosphere of belonging (Walton & Cohen, 2011) and an appreciation of
people from all cultures (Museus et al., 2017).

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