Education: Values and Expectations

Discussion Questions

Students should prepare these before class discussion.

1. What is the main theme of the reading? Is it...
a. academic success in schools in the United States
b. behavior, attitudes, and values found in the American educational system
c. competition in American society
2. The authors say in Paragraph A that international students and immigrants must adapt to new classroom norms when they study in a foreign educational institution. How have you had to adapt to culturally different classroom norms? How would American students have to adapt to educational norms in classes in your culture?
3. In Paragraph C, the authors say that older and younger people study together in America. Does this occur in your culture? Have you ever been in an educational setting with much older or much younger students?
4. Student participation is expected in most subjects, according to the authors' discussion in Paragraph E. Did you ever have a class in which the students did most of the talking? If so, was this classroom style comfortable for you?
5. In Paragraph E, the authors state that it is confusing for some students to take the lead in deciding upon topics and choosing books and articles for their classes. Why is this so?
6. In Paragraph F, the authors say that a certain type of student is expected to be actively involved in his or her own education. What type of student is this? What behavior would make a professor think that this type of student was uninterested in learning?
7. In Paragraph G, the authors discuss the fact that many professors encourage their students to challenge their ideas. If a student makes such a challenge, what must the student be prepared to do? Do experienced teachers become insulted by students who disagree with them? Discuss.
8. Describe the "ideal" student discussed by the authors in Paragraph I. In your opinion, what else makes an ideal student? What makes an ideal teacher?
9. According to the authors' statements in Paragraph J, how do egalitarianism and informality relate to the way students and teachers interact?
10. According to the authors' discussion in Paragraph K, are the roles that professors establish outside the classroom the same as the roles that they maintain inside the classroom? Have you ever become friends with a teacher? Were there any conflicts in the relationship because you were also a student?
11. The authors say in Paragraph M that the "honor system" is imposed by the teacher and the school. In your culture, do university students expect to be trusted? Explain.
12. Reread the list of examples of academic dishonesty in Paragraph N. Are these acts considered dishonest in your country of origin? What are the consequences of breaking these rules in your own country?
13. How can cultural background affect the way that students understand academic rules? Give specific examples, using the discussions in Paragraphs N, O, and P as your guide.
14. In Paragraph S, the authors say that when students disagree with their professors about a grade, they can approach them in an attempt to change the grade. Is this true in your culture? Would you feel comfortable asking a professor to change your grade?
15. In Paragraph T, the authors say that younger students especially may tend to have emotional problems in their educational environment. What is an aspect of the academic atmosphere that may cause some difficulty? Give three specific tips you would offer to a new international student or immigrant at an American university or college.
16. In Paragraph U, the authors suggest counseling for American students who find it difficult to cope with academic stress. In your culture, if students feel overwhelmed by the demands of a university, what do they do? Do they turn to friends, seek counseling, talk with their professors, or go to their families? Explain.
17. Reread the list of stress management techniques in Paragraph U. Which do you think are the most and least helpful? Choose two of each and discuss.
18. What are some ways that the authors suggest in Paragraph V for making friends in the university setting? From your observations of Americans, have you noticed that they use these ways of making friends?
19. According to the authors in Paragraph W, which students appear to be most successful in "learning the ropes?" Do these skills rely on language ability only? Discuss.
20. In Paragraph X, the authors say that having both an awareness of cultural differences and flexibility in one's expectations and behavior are important factors in successful learning. Do you agree? Are other elements involved in successful learning? If so, which would you add?
Material taken from: Beyond Language by Levine and Adelman. Prentice Hall 1993.