Personal Background Knowledge Influences Cross-Cultural Understanding


by Xiaodong Lin & John D. Bransford - 2010

Purpose of the Study: The purpose of the study was to investigate how two types of videos, personal background knowledge (PBK) and general background knowledge (GBK), affect peopleís interpretation of a classroom problem case that involved a disconnection between a foreign college professor and her students. The PBK video described the professorís personal experiences and upbringing within her culture that impacted her views about the importance of learning. The GBK video included only general information about important political and social events in, and the language and customs of, the professorís culture. Both prior to and after seeing the PBK or GBK video, we measured participantsí reactions to the problem case. PBK had a much stronger impact on changes in reactions than GBK.

Background/Context: Prior research suggests that background information may unfreeze stereotypes and result in more empathy between people. It is unclear whether these effects are due to access to general kinds of knowledge about an individual (GBK) or whether they depend on specific kinds of relevant personal knowledge (PBK). We investigated the role of different kinds of knowledge in changing peopleís negative views about the teacher in the case.

Participants: The participants were 43 undergraduate students (25 females and 18 males) enrolled in a general psychology course at a top-5 school of education (according to US News rankings) located near the middle of the United States. Ninety percent of the participants were Caucasian and enrolled in different majors in the school of education.

Research Design: We used a within- and between-subjects design. The participants first saw and responded to the case of the problematic professor (baseline condition). Participants were then assigned randomly to either the PBK or GBK video conditions. After watching, they answered questions about the case once again.

Results: The PBK video story had strong emotional and cognitive effects on changes in studentsí understanding of Professor Xís case and in their strategies for resolving the problem. The GBK tended to make negative stereotypes and opinions worse. This latter outcome was unexpected given the frequent reliance on general cultural knowledge to make people more empathetic and understanding. We suggest that increased attention to personal background knowledge in instruction may have important implications for additional ways to help students learn.



To view the full-text for this article you must be signed-in with the appropriate membership. Please review your options below:

Sign-in
Email:
Password:
Store a cookie on my computer that will allow me to skip this sign-in in the future.
Send me my password -- I can't remember it
 
Purchase this Article
Purchase Personal Background Knowledge Influences Cross-Cultural Understanding
Individual-Resource passes allow you to purchase access to resources one resource at a time. There are no recurring fees.
$12
Become a Member
Online Access
With this membership you receive online access to all of TCRecord's content. The introductory rate of $25 is available for a limited time.
$25
Print and Online Access
With this membership you receive the print journal and free online access to all of TCRecord's content.
$210


Cite This Article as: Teachers College Record Volume 112 Number 7, 2010, p. 1729-1757
https://www.tcrecord.org ID Number: 15572, Date Accessed: 10/31/2020 12:36:45 PM

Purchase Reprint Rights for this article or review