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Culture and Student Engagement: Making Success in Your Own Way Open Access

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Background: Higher education has been considered a mainstay for economic self-sufficiency and responsible citizenship. A considerable amount of Western research has identified student engagement as a key element for understanding and predicting students' learning outcomes. However, due to cultural differences in educational philosophies, it remains questionable whether this model receives universal support from different cultures. As more Asian students are coming to the U.S. for higher education, it becomes imperative for American educators to understand how Asian students may differ from domestic American students in their motives to engage in various in-class and outside-of-class activities, as well as how these motives predict their learning behaviors and outcomes so as to better integrate Asian students to the American educational system. Objective: Building upon existing studies, this research examines cultural variations in the effect of students' interaction goals for engagement (instrumental, identity, and relational goals) on various types of engagement behaviors (behavioral vs. cognitive engagement) and learning outcomes (educational vs. social learning outcomes). Methods: Data were collected from students at the George Washington University. Participants were 461 American students and 55 sojourning students from Asia. Participants were asked to fill out an online survey questionnaire that measures various types of interaction goals for student engagement, various types of engagement behaviors, as well as various types of learning outcomes. Statistical analysis techniques, such as t-tests and multiple regression, are being used to analyze data. Outcomes: The research tests the following hypotheses: H1: Asian students will place more importance on instrumental and self-effacement goals and less importance on social and self-enhancement goals for engagement than American students; H2: Asian students will report higher cognitive engagement and lower behavioral engagement than American students. H3: Asian students will rate higher in educational outcomes and lower in social outcomes than American students. H4: The effect of engagement on learning outcomes is moderated by culture, such as (a) the effect of cognitive engagement on educational learning outcomes is more pronounced for Asian students, whereas (b) the effect of behavioral engagement on personal/social learning outcomes is more pronounced for American students.

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