Assessing Strategic Cultural Competency: Holistic Approaches to Student Learning Through Media

  • Hammer J
  • Swaffar J
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Abstract

The current study investigated the impact of a German television program on changes in 4th-semester German students' reflections on cultural perceptions over the course of 1 semester. Sixty-nine students at the University of Texas at Austin watched 4 episodes of the popular German television program Lindenstrasse. After viewing, students were asked to reflect in written response papers on cultural features and patterns of behavior and on cultural differences and similarities. The study results suggest that students' perceptions of another culture can become more sophisticated when being exposed to authentic filmic material and asked to reflect in writing about observed plot features and cultural manifestations. The key to these results is a strategy for assessing not just students' recall of cultural content, but also their strategic competencies in negotiating cultural difference. Changes in students' cognitive styles were tracked by a scale that rewards students' strategic ability to manage details of cultural knowledge and sociolinguistic content, including the following categories: (a) rhetorical organization; (b) content; (c) comparative point of view; and (d) interpretive substance. The article provides a model for the assessment of cultural competency (MACC), which can be adapted to assess students' engagement with the culture represented in various materials. [ABSTRACT FROM AUTHOR]

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Authors

  • Judith Hammer

  • Janet Swaffar

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