CEC Theses and Dissertations

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Date of Award

2010

Document Type

Dissertation - NSU Access Only

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy in Information Systems (DISS)

Department

Graduate School of Computer and Information Sciences

Advisor

Yair Levy

Committee Member

Martha Snyder

Committee Member

Steven Terrell

Abstract

With the rapid and exponential growth of Internet use worldwide, online learning has become one of the most widely used learning paradigms in the education environment. Yet despite the rapidly increasing cultural diversity of online learners, few studies have investigated the effectiveness of cross-cultural Online Learning Systems (OLS) using a suitable measurement to answer the question, "Do culturally different learners perceive OLS effectiveness differently?" In this study, Hofstede's theory on cultural dimensions and Levy's Learners' Value Index of Satisfaction (LeVIS) framework are applied as a foundation for studying how culturally different learners perceive OLS effectiveness.

The aim of this comparative study was to gain a better understanding of OLS effectiveness in a non-western culture by comparing cultural dimensions and learners' perceived effectiveness of OLS (across the four pillars: technology/support, course, professor, & learner) among American and Malaysian learners. Learners from American and Malaysian universities were surveyed and a factorial analysis of variance (factorial ANOVA) was used to determine any significant differences among participants regarding perceived OLS effectiveness across the four pillars of OLS based upon Hofstede's cultural dimensions. Results indicated significant differences in perceived OLS effectiveness between American and Malaysian learners in the course and professor pillars based on Hofstede's five cultural dimensions. However, the technology/support and learner pillars showed no significant differences between American and Malaysian learners' perceived OLS effectiveness.

The main contribution of this study is its findings regarding the effect of culture on perceived OLS effectiveness. This study examined American and Malaysian learners' perceived effectiveness of the technology/support, course, professor, and learner pillars of OLS based on Hofstede's five cultural dimensions. Based upon analysis of the survey results, it was determined that American learners perceived a slightly higher OLS effectiveness in terms of the course and professor pillars than Malaysian learners. In other words, the survey indicated that the cultural dimensions distinguishing American and Malaysian learners influenced those two groups' perceived effectiveness of the course and professor pillars of the OLS.

Another contribution of this study is its recommendation, based upon the survey results, that Malaysian OLS course designers develop and implement course content and activities in the online learning environment to alleviate the apparent conflict between current online learning and Malaysian cultural characteristics. It is further recommended that Malaysian professors using OLS also strive to develop an instructional method more suitable to the cultural norms of Malaysian society. On a general level, it is hoped that this study will also contribute to a better awareness and understanding of the important and unresolved issues surrounding cultural attributes and learners' perceived OLS effectiveness.

Based on this study, recommendations were made for future research in order to broaden, reenforce or adjust its findings. These included, 1) replicating this study in another setting, such as in the collaborative environment of international organizations; 2) including additional independent variables, such as academic major, enrollment status (full or part time), first language, graduate student status, and grade point average; 3) replicating the current study using a larger sample with multiple locations and cultures, and 4) replicating this study at a future date to reflect potential changes in culture, technology, and OLS design.

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