Intercultural Adaptation of Students in the Information Field of Cross-Cultural Interaction
Tomin VV*, Sakharova NS, Eremina NV, Kabanova OV
and Terekhova GV
Foreign Languages Department, Orenburg State University, Russia
- Corresponding Author:
- Tomin VV
Assistant Professor, Foreign Languages
Orenburg State University,
Pobedy avenue, 13, aud.
Tel: (3532) 72-37-01
Received date: February 25, 2016; Accepted date: March 11, 2016; Published date: March 21, 2016
Citation: Tomin VV, Sakharova NS, Eremina
NV, et al. Intercultural Adaptation of
Students in the Information Field of Cross-
Cultural Interaction. Global Media Journal.2016, S2:7.
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The article reviews the complexity, variability, ambiguity and interdisciplinarily of the intercultural adaptation of students while in cross-cultural interaction. Bearing universal traits, the pedagogical approach to this phenomenon deals with a variety of mechanisms to facilitate the alignment of the relations between the present and the future, finds ways to improve flexibility and tolerance for different cultures, to define trajectories for the use of linguistic resources in specific speech situations of intercultural communication, as well as to establish dynamic relationships between a personality and the surrounding reality. Different characteristic features, properties, strategies, conceptual models and functions of the phenomenon discovered are described there. Intercultural adaptation – regarded as the process of merging into personal cultural environment, inherently developing and absorbing its values, principles, standards, norms and behavior patterns – results in the individual’s adaptability to a certain degree. A new vision of the preliminary stage of adaptation is offered. A special attention is paid to the information field which proves to be an efficient means of students’ intercultural adaptability formation.
Under today's circumstances, when foreign economic relations
tend to strengthen and develop, international educational
programs are implemented within the framework of international
cooperation and in accordance with the Bologna Declaration,
adaptation of students in foreign cultural environment remains
an actual problem. Having a global scale, the pedagogical
scientific vision of this phenomenon involves finding a variety of
mechanisms to facilitate the alignment of the relations between
the present and the future, creating flexibility and tolerance
for different cultures, developing strategies for the use of
linguistic resources in specific speech situations of intercultural
communication, as well as establishing dynamic relationships in
the system of personality - the surrounding reality.
The successful formation of a person depends on the ability
to adequately self-assess and appraise their activities. To work
successfully in constantly changing conjunctures, it is not
sufficient just to have acquired knowledge and skills to suit better
the requirements of modern society; there is an urgent need
to update education systematically. The process of reflection is uninterrupted, and for some, the natural consequence of their
practical work that requires more and more knowledge leads to
the renewal and enrichment of their professional education.
That is why today we are talking more not about qualified but
competent specialists who are ready, and that's very important,
are able to maintain their professionalism at a high efficiency,
promptly, and adequately while flexibly replenishing emerging
gaps, including means of the international educational contacts
in a cross-cultural interaction.
It is so logical that the process of training in high school now is
based on more independent, close to the research activities of the
student, and the main focus becomes the development of a whole
range of competencies. Considerable importance is attached
to the development of the student's ability to quickly adapt to
the changing conditions of the surrounding reality in the social,
psychological, cultural and educational aspects, building up their
needs in accordance with constantly updated requirements for
competitive specialists. Cross-cultural adaptation is becoming a
key to the successful achievement of these requirements because
it gives ample opportunity for self-development, and cognitive, speech, and mental activity growth, in addition to allowing the
maintenance of psychological health and emotive stability in
cross-cultural interaction. At the same time, the information
field that has no cultural and geographical boundaries is both
a means of developing and actualizing intercultural adaptation,
representing a global dynamic exchange channel of knowledge,
experiences, ideas and strategies for solving different problematic
situations in a multicultural identity.
For the purposes of this study, theoretical and empirical
pedagogical methods have been used.
Because of the complexity, ambiguity and the lack of an
optimal unified definition of the phenomenon of "crosscultural
adaptation", a content analysis of the sociological,
philosophical, psychological and pedagogical literature on
the issue has been conducted. This has allowed structuring
of the revealed relationships and interconnections of the
process of students’ adaptation, and determining its functional
dependence and causality in the theory of education. In addition,
a comparative analysis has been applied, along with the ranking
and generalization of the detected theoretical positions and
concepts for further synthesis of a holistic notion of "intercultural
adaptation" in the information field of cross-cultural interaction.
The study has involved bachelors enrolled in the various areas of
training: economic, engineering, architecture and construction,
transport, aerospace. In total, more than 770 students from
different regions, areas and provinces of Russia (56% of total
respondents), Kazakhstan (18%), Finland (2%), Spain (3%), Italy
(2%), France (1%), India (7%), China (5%), the US (1%) and North
and Central Africa (5%) participated.
Computer mediated cross-cultural interaction has been
carried out in the information field of the MOODLE system on
the Orenburg State University portal and on the COURSERA
educational platform, with open remote access to a variety of
Massive Open Online Courses. Gender and age characteristics
have not been taken into account, while the cultural and ethnic
identities of the students have been of secondary importance.
Among the empirical methods that have been processed using
mathematical statistics, there have been used different types of
observation (direct and indirect; continuous and discrete; with
the fixation of social behavior, psychological state, reactions and
foreign language communicative activity; open and secret), and
questionnaire methods (conversation, discussion, questioning
and interviewing) and testing with the registration of the data in
the form of reports, minutes and video records.
Results and Discussion
The term "adaptation", first introduced in medicine and
psychology in the 1880s by Professor Aubert, refers to the
ability of a living organism to adapt to changing environmental
conditions. This ability is universal and characteristic of all living
things, as a function of self-preservation is involved with a
gradual "addiction", adaptability to new conditions of existence.
The level of adaptation in the broadest sense can be expressed in resistance: the lower the resistance, the greater adaptability,
and, accordingly, the greater the possibility to continue life
in the changed reality and vice versa. Systems with complex
organizations are distinguished by the presence of not only
physiological, but also of psychological aspects of adaptation.
There are open and closed adaptation strategies traditionally
accepted. Open (or compensation) adaptation is characterized
by a kind of individual isolation and counteraction processes,
compensation, balancing and neutralization. Modification
(closed) strategy of adaptation is the transformation of the nature
of external stimuli into the natural environment of the object
through the processes of assimilation, mediation, entering,
familiarization and accustoming. These types of strategies can be
realized not only at the level of the organism, but are also evident
in the behavior of the individual and the whole group, where the
most optimum adaptation occurs in a balanced combination of
these strategies .
The process of adaptation is a two-sided direction: a person can
not only "self-adjust" to the particular circumstances and the
new environment, but also has a significant impact on these
very surroundings, adapting it to their needs and requirements
. However, many scholars have pointed out the leading role
of an individual or a group as an adaptable system, which being
stipulated by the immanence of self-control and the ability of selfmovement
and transformation, activate levers of administration,
influence and control, modeling patterns of partial changes
or complete transformation of the surrounding space and
neutralization of external aggressive factors.
At the junction of the sociology and psychology borders,
adaptation is viewed as a longitudinal process of inclusion,
participation, immersion of the individual (or group) to an active
(or passive) interaction with the social environment in which the
orientation takes place. Related problems and their solutions
are defined, and a selection is made regarding future activities,
relevant and adequate to the current situation in order to achieve
balance between the environment and the person’s interests,
abilities and needs .
In modern science much attention is also paid to studying the
problems of socio-cultural adaptation, which is interpreted as
"the process and the result of an active adaptation of ethnic
groups (and individuals - their representatives) to the conditions
of other social and cultural environment" . The author
emphasizes synonymy of definitions of "intercultural" and "crosscultural"
Mnatsakanyan has slightly different opinion. Based on the research
of Thomas and Znanetsky, as well as on modern definitions of
adaptation, methodology, achievements of the latest theories,
and concepts in the field of sociology and educational psychology,
she believes that cross-cultural adaptation is a form of social
adaptation . Foreign interdisciplinary studies of the adaptation
phenomenon in general and cross-cultural adaptation in
particular, have been carried out since the end of the XIX century
by such scholars as: White W, Thomas W, Znanetsky F (1918),
Redfield R, Linton R, Herskovitz M (1930), Oberg K, Pearson D
(1960), David KH (1976), Bennett Milton BA, Burnham A, Bochner S, Furnham A, Torbiorn I (1986), Moghaddam FM, Taylor DM,
Wright SC (1993), Triandis HC, Berry JW (1997), Poortiga YH,
Segall MH, Dasen PR (2003), et al.
It is worth noting that the concept of intercultural (or crosscultural)
adaptation for the East European science is a relatively
new concept and has become the object of research recently.
Among the scientists who cover this issue are Stefanenko TG,
Wittenberg EV, Abulkhanova-Slavskaya KA, Lebedeva NM, Tatarko
AN, Soldatova GU, Gritsenko VV, Khrustaliov NS, Mnatsakanyan IA,
Krysko VG, et al. Intercultural adaptation process in cross-cultural
interaction has been studied by Drobizheva LM, Klyuchnikova
LV (Miller LV), Stefanenko TG, Streltsova VY, Maksymchuk
ED, Chernikova SV, et al. Key aspects of complex application
of linguistic resources in a cross-cultural interaction and
intercultural adaptation process are presented in the works by
Ter-Minasova SG, BogdanoVVv, Yankina NV, Sorokin Y, Solomatin
TB, Wezhbitska A, Susov IP, et al. Cross-cultural adaptation is
described as the process of an individual (or group) entering the
cultural environment, followed by successive development and
adoption of its values, principles, norms and behaviors . The
author notes that the true, successful adaptation stands for the
achievement of maximum social and psychological integration
with a new culture, while retaining all the originality, authenticity
and richness of its own. N. Itunina shares a similar opinion. She
determines intercultural adaptation in a broad sense as a complex
process, which results, in the case of its successful completion,
in a full (or partial) compatibility of the individual with a new
culture and social environment, as well as the identification of
other cultures with their own traditions and the continuation
of life in accordance with them . In addition, she highlights
the accompanying adaptation dilemma of preserving one’s own
cultural originality and identity, as opposed to mastering the rules
and standards of living of the contacting side.
As a result of cross-cultural adaptation, the individual stays in a
state of satisfaction, is mentally healthy and aware of the personal
and cultural identity, participates fully in social and cultural
activities of the new group, and is able to communicate effectively
with a variety of ethnic groups and their individual representatives
. It should be emphasized that many researchers have a similar
point of view on the main way of cross-cultural adaptation, which
consists in the development, adoption, assimilation of norms,
standards, values, principles and way of life of an alien social and
cultural environment, including object-oriented activity [8,9].
However, if we talk about the properties intrinsic to the
phenomenon of cross-cultural adaptation, there are quite a
number of controversial, contentious issues within the various
concepts and theoretical approaches. Again, cross-cultural
adaptation is a kind of socio-cultural adaptation, which, in turn,
is a form of social adaptation. This means that in a cross-cultural
interaction of students, intercultural and social adaptation
have similar attributive traits and characteristics. Cross-cultural
adaptation is considered from the standpoint of enigma,
complexity, variability, and is not limited only to the capacity of
a mere adjustment. It occurs simultaneously: the process of an
individual taking a certain social role, including the adoption and
internalization of norms and values, as well as the conditions of existence of this role in society (role concept); giving reflection,
feedback and manifestation of an individual’s response to
the effects of external factors (the theory of behaviorism);
from the perspective of humanitarian concepts, this is also a
complex system of multiple interactions of an individual and the
environment; the connection and correlation between the newly
acquired information and previous experience from training,
education and life (cognitive concept, information field theory)
; a person's ability to make contact and cooperation to find
solutions to the problems and difficulties encountered, as well
as for protection against aggressive environments (interactionism
Considering the above conceptual approaches, it is worth
focusing once again on the interdisciplinarily of the phenomenon
of cross-cultural adaptation , which includes the preservation
of identity, authenticity, psychological health and positive
emotional state of a person, along with their acquisition of the
necessary knowledge and skills (in cross-cultural cooperation
in the conditions of the educational environment, or in the
information field) for the successful continuation of life in the
new social and cultural environment, as well as fulfilling everyday
tasks. Thus, intercultural adaptation is a subject for study in
psychology, sociology and education science. Being a relatively
progressive process in terms of time, which practically acts as an
axiom in the category of temporality, many researchers assume
that adaptation has some stages, steps or phases through which
a person moves in the foreign cultural environment. The most
widely spread among ethno-psychologists and ethno-sociologists
is so-called "Model of U-shaped curve" adaptation by Norwegian
scientist Lisgaard, which consists of 5 steps and, although is not
the norm for each particular situation, however, is fairly typical
for the majority of cases . This model in a simplified form
can be represented as a downwardly-upward sequence: "goodworse-
bad-better-good". According to Stefanenko, these stages
of adaptation are as follows :
1. The state of satisfaction, positive mood, there are goals and
aspirations, confidence, optimism, and a certain degree of
emotional "euphoria" -the so-called stage of "honeymoon".
2. The cultural environment is beginning to manifest itself
in aggressive actions, causing negative feelings of anxiety,
frustration, insecurity, and depression- the symptoms of socalled
3. The crucial point, "bottom", when the state of "culture shock"
reaches a critical value, which may cause mental illness, or
even physiological one. At this stage, there is a high probability
of a person’s refusing of a new cultural environment and
returning back to their native customary conditions.
4. The negative emotional and mental state of the individual
is being gradually neutralized by awareness of capabilities,
demands, and acceptability of the need for social and cultural
adaptation and integration, including a reasoned study of
the host culture, its language, traditions, customs, attitudes,
patterns and norms. It is the recovery period.
5. The state of satisfaction when the individual is mentally
healthy, aware of the personal and cultural identity, i.e., ideally- full compliance of a person and cultural environment.
A man takes a full part in social and cultural activities of the
new group, and is able to effectively communicate with its
Later Lisgaard has offered “W-curve Model”, which first
describes the adaptation process in another ethnic culture,
and then rehabilitation in the native one, which is also
characterized by a new wave of disorientation, depression
and recovery period.
In terms of temporal and longitudinal adapting, this model
is divided into short-term, which lasts at least 2 years and
is accompanied, as a rule, by the preservation of its own
ethnic and cultural identity and at the same time by the
acquisition of the primary socio-cultural relations in the
new environment as well as long-term, which is more than
2 years and contributes to a more productive cross-cultural
interaction and to the increase of social contacts and activities
. It should be noted that the results of the research of
psychologists and sociologists prove the level of adaptation of
the person does not correlate linearly with time. In addition,
there are a number of models and strategies of (intercultural)
adaptation provided under the different conceptual
approaches. For example, David, Bochner, and Furnham
proceed from the position that the adaptation is a natural
process of learning something new, received in a different
culture. Two tendencies are in the field of communication
and in the field of social behavior. The first direction considers
intercultural adaptation in terms of developing students’
speech activity and intercultural communication for the
purpose of successful communication in another ethnic
environment, and the second one focuses on the training of
behavior patterns characteristic to the norms, traditions and
cultural situation . The concept by B. A. Milton Bennett,
based on the principle of psychological dissonance, reviews
the effectiveness and success of cross-cultural adaptation in
the prism of outcome in the acquisition of a number of new
skills and stereotyped patterns of behavior; in implementing
adequate, relevant interpretation and response to the
behavior of cross-cultural interaction .
Torbiorn, within his homeostatic model, marks the dynamics,
consistency, and the cyclical reduction of the psychological and
emotional stress in the process of cross-cultural adaptation,
during which the individual, to the best of their own sociocultural
competence, self-assesses the current situation in
the system of interactions "personality -a new environment"
and seeks to achieve the level of internal satisfaction (balance
with the environment) .
The most successful, in our opinion, is a model of adaptation,
proposed by Melnikova, where like Stefanenko there are
also distinguished 5 stages, but which, in fact, is a "universal
matrix" used to describe any kind of adaptation process,
including intercultural within a cross-cultural interaction .
6. In the first stage there is some disorientation in the changed
environment revealed. Initial reaction of an individual in the
activity aspect can be manifested in spontaneous behavior, rather than in a focused activity, while the emotional
background indicates an imbalance in the system "manenvironment".
At this stage, there is the need for change, as
well as the foundation for further cooperation is established.
7. In the second stage there is orientation in the new environment
expected to facilitate the acquisition of new knowledge and
skills in order to find a way out of this problematic situation.
8. The third stage is characterized by a redistribution of value
orientations of the individual and the modification of
internal reflection, which leads to the problem of selecting
appropriate strategies and patterns of behavior and complex
language means to be filled in with the instruments used in
the implementation of an effective cross-cultural interaction.
9. The fourth stage is the beginning of the "ascent" and
"mobilization" of internal resources and capabilities of
an individual, as well as the increasing of activities aimed
at reconstruction and changes in their socio-cultural,
psychological, emotional, intellectual and other spheres.
10. In the final stage, cross-cultural interaction is characterized by
high productivity and efficiency, and the status of an individual
is distinguished by different inner poise, comfort, stability,
balance of emotional tension, mental health, complete
(ideally) adaptability, optimism and a positive attitude to the
reality and members of the new society.
It should, however, be clarified that, firstly, distinct phases and
all of the above steps are not necessarily presented in the actual
process of cross-cultural adaptation and, secondly, there is no
guarantee of the achievement of the presumed positive effects
which are conventionally idealized in the theoretical models.
This is also mentioned in the works on psychology, by Lebedeva:
"Adaptation may or may not lead to the mutual satisfaction of
individuals and the environment; it may include not only the
adjustment, but also resistance, and attempt to change their
environment or change mutually" .
Some scientists, concerned with adaptation, allocate the
additional step having "0" number, which alleges training and
“remote” acquaintance with the cultural environment, as well
as awareness of the new requirements, and the conditions
imposed on a person that can lead to an understanding of the
consequences of certain actions, reactions, and interactions.
This step may be of considerable interest for education science,
slightly more than for the other related social and humanitarian
disciplines. Therefore, in our opinion, it would be appropriate
to characterize it conventionally as the "training stage", which
opens and actualizes: functioning regularities of cross-cultural
interaction, manifested in consciousness, behavioral reactions,
intersubjective relations; diversification and comparison of
specific features of education and training in different cultures;
conditions of formation and development of an individual in
another ethnic environment; the problem of increasing of the
cultural level, and of the transmission of traditions and national
customs, as well as the corresponding system of its values.
In addition, we believe that it is at the zero stage in the information
field of cross-cultural interaction where the prerequisites to achieve a certain degree (or level) of a personality’s adaptation
are established, when all subsequent stages of intercultural
adaptation or its critical points are in a "relaxed" form, more
"smooth" and less "painful" because a person has at least some
theoretical ideas about possible future difficulties, problems, and
ways to overcome the metamorphoses and obstacles, and about
how to preserve mental and psychological balance, etc. .
The information field in terms of cross-cultural interaction is
understood by us as the intersection, a cross-section inherent to
every individual’s "areas" of knowledge, skills, acquired personal
experience, that occurs in certain specified (educational)
framework and forms a communication channel within the
educational space (or out of it, in different kinds of social activity
of students) that, firstly, coordinates the achievement of certain,
clearly defined goals, tasks and problem solving, which in turn
requires the activation and mobilization of mental activity and
psychological and emotive stability; secondly, it implements
the mutual exchange of a substantial component of the "open"
areas of the students’ field and enriches the individual spheres of
interaction of the participants. Here, the initial state of the field
can be known, the final is determined by educational conditions
and, in fact, by the objectives, while the algorithm of interaction
within the field often bears a predictable and diagnosed effect,
not excluding, at the same time, the element of spontaneity
and unpredictability. The information (education) field unveils
vectors of "mutually-directed efforts" and comprises in itself
the process of two-way exchange of information, knowledge
and experience. In practice, the of use of interactive techniques,
such as: brainstorming, various business and role-playing games,
discussions and debates, case-study, project method, insight and
holographic techniques intensify training and activate speech
activity. Particularly relevant in didactics today are the latest
achievements in the sphere of electronic (distance) educational
environment and of the information field - Moodle, Web 2.0,
MOOCs (Massive Open Online Courses).
The empirical research had the following steps.
The first stage being the ascertaining experiment was aimed to
discover the peculiarities of intercultural adaptation of students
in regard to their educational and professional self-concept
and learning activities. Based on the praximetric methods and
using the qualitative analysis, the differentiation between the
professional cognitive component of educational self-concept
and intercultural adaptation was found (z = 3.6; 3.3; 3.1; where
relevant difference is α = 0.01). Students with high intercultural
adaptation level (IAL) demonstrate active position in learning
process. They possess multifarious ideas of themselves as of a
professional because they are oriented to accept their future
social roles and to reflect their personal features and qualities
on to the image of a future specialist. Average intercultural
adaptation students show moderate learning activities having
vague physical shape of a future expert in the professional
sphere. The respondents with low IAL specify rather abstract
future impression of themselves concerning their current tuition.
Also, weak and passive learning activities were registered here.
This correlation was also proved statistically by the Pearson
coefficient: r = 0.807; ρ 0.05; r = 0.805; ρ ≤ 0.01; r = 0.731; ρ 0.05. This means that the higher students’ educational and
professional self-concept and learning activities are, the better
their adaptability in cross-cultural interaction is. Thereby, to
succeed in different phases of professional self-realization,
students with high IAL are ready to socialize actively; to contact
people (faculty members, other students, staff); to acquire skills of
communication and interactions with representatives of foreign
culture and ethnic groups; to master language and improve
efficiently their speech activity. Low and average IAL students are
less adjustable for new cultural and social conditions.
“Index of Tolerance” questionnaire by Soldatova and Kravtsova
et al. was used to identify the level of ethnic tolerance (ETL)-
component inherent to intercultural adaptation, which is of
utmost importance because it affects the core ability to adapt.
Quantitative analysis witnessed 78% of participants to have
intermediate and high ETLs. These data encourage to successfully
form the positive attitude towards the majority of nations and
ethnic groups among such students, thus, preparing them for
productive cross-cultural interaction and increasing their IAL.
The method of Phinney’s multi-ethnic identities scale, measuring
the manifestation of its cognitive and affective components,
helped to detect 17% of average and 46% of high ethnic identity
levels (EIL), which suggests positive relations between the image
of one’s own ethnic group and values of foreign societies. At the
same time, the Kogut and Singh equation was used to determine
the cultural distance between each side participating in the
Here, CDj (cultural distance) is the deviation of cultural distance of
Iij (required country) from Iiu (country of origin) for Vi (variance) for
the ith (Hofstede’s cultural dimension). The results are represented
in Table 1.
Spearman rank correlation defined direct relations between ETL
and EIL (rs = 0.53) and negative relations between ETL and ethnic
hyper-identity (EHI) indices (rs = -0.34). Thus, EIL significantly
influences the display of ethnic tolerance/intolerance: the higher
EIL is, the less tolerant adjustment of a person is. Likewise, positive
correlation between cultural shock and CDj was determined (rs
= 0.43) proving that the higher cultural shock is, the higher CDj appears. The data obtained confirmed the assumption that
IAL evinces the dynamics depending on ETL and EIL changes,
accompanied by emotional expressions of cultural shock and the
level of CDj towards foreigners.
|State of origin
Table 1: Mean cultural distance indices of experiment participants
towards each other
The second stage-the forming experiment -included the
formation and development of students IAL in the information
field during cross-cultural interactions carried out under certain
psychological and educational conditions, based on the peculiar
learning activities in which students were involved during tuition.
On one hand it was aimed to stimulate professional aspect
concerning cognitive activities, on the other- to intensify the
adaptive aspect. Cognitive, emotional and behavioral criteria and
their interconnections were considered.
This program comprised 4 steps: 1) formation of cognitive
component; 2) formation of emotional and axiological
component; 3) formation of conative component; 4) integrated
formation and further development of all these components.
The independent variable here was a complex of psychological
and educational conditions to low down the level of disadaptation.
For that purpose, it was necessary to form the system of values
and axiological orientations; to reduce the level of anxiety, to
increase self-confidence and to eliminate personal reactions on
problems appearing while cross-cultural interactions; to achieve
personal growth, to realize one’s own difficulties and to find
means to overcome them; to develop ability for self-analysis and
self-cognition. The dependent variable was the specific features
of personal IAL, ETL, EIL, CDj and students’ self-concept and
learning activity. The preliminary diagnostics showed no relevant
discrepancy between experimental (EG) and control (CG) groups
(50 participants in each) on any parameters and methods. The
majority of students had average IAL (43%), average or higher
ETL (14% and 47% resp.) and moderate EIL (45%), not excluding
insignificant amount of EHI respondents (<1%). They consider
their ability for intercultural adaptation to be rather high,
experiencing no severity in foreign environment, yet not always
having active position in the interpersonal contacts. The Mann-
Whitney U-test, using the formula presented, also found no
essential differences in IAL of EG and CG students (Uemp = 19 Ucrit).
Analysis of output date after the forming experiment witnessed the increment of amount of EG students with high IAL compared
to the initial indicators (z = 1.75; ρ ≤ 0.05) and quantity of high IAL students was significantly more than that in CG (z = 1.78; ρ
≤ 0.05), calculated with the Fisher z-(angular)-transformation
method. The dynamics of the IAL development of EG students
before and after the experimental program of cross-cultural
interaction in the informational field (which was accompanied
with socio-cultural instructions, acquiring of communicative
skills and development of foreign language competencies, selfcognition
and regulation) is represented in Figure 1.
The positive shift was also registered in ETL and EIL of EG students
sensitively to the IAL changes. The results are presented in Figure
2, demonstrating, at the same time, a peculiar property of EIL
which tends to be more or less stable and is not much amenable to
abrupt alterations under the external factors. This is explained by
the fact that EIL is especially individual and depends on student’s
personal characteristics, subject to change rather slowly in a
long period of time (Figure 2). The findings of the investigation
statistics, as well as our practical experience as tutors and
consultants for students, demonstrates that participation in the
Massive Open Online Courses – implemented, in particular, on
the educational platform COURSERA – significantly activates
the cognitive and creative activity of students, not to mention
increasing speech activity. Students discuss various problems
from their personal point of view, leaving the "communication
fears” beyond the information field, offline, which often leads to
parity dialogue and multiple interactions of cross-cultural nature
with international participants via the Internet. At the same time,
students prepare "in the field" an independent written work
fulfilled quite individually, such as: publishing a blog or an article
in a scientific journal or conference.
All students were recommended to participate at least in two
MOOCs on COURSERA. These are “Learning How to Learn:
Powerful mental tools to help you master tough subjects” by
Dr. Barbara Oakley and Dr. Terrence Sejnowski, the University
of California, San Diego and “Introduction to Communication
Science” by Dr. Rutger de Graaf, the University of Amsterdam.
Besides every student was allowed to freely enter any course
to their interest and specialization, but the two offered turned
out to be the most popular among the respondents involved in
the experimental part (78% and 61% resp.), thus, providing the
main source of output data. Comparing the results of cognitive,
emotional, axiological and behavioral components formation and development of EG students with CG, a clear statistically
significant difference on practically all criteria and parameters is
observed. The obtained indices of the Fisher z-transformation and
Mann-Whitney U-test of EG students are presented in Table 2.
Figure 1: The IAL development dynamics of EG students before and after the experimental program.
In addition, we found that the process of creating an individual
educational module for students itself is an important and highly
effective form of cross-cultural interaction in the information
field, which in an inherently wide range develops scientific logic,
critical thinking, and creativity, and stimulates both educational
and professional motivation of students. A useful means in this
respect are the online tools and publicly available Internet services,
powered for free by different laboratories and companies. These
include, but are not limited to (due to their enormous flexibility
and infinite possibilities for creativity) developing a PowerPoint
presentation, web-site, Wiki article, Pinterest board, video, PC
game, mp3 song, YouTube video, blog or series of individual
posts in the Live Journal, Facebook, Myspace or VK page, and
an illustration or animation with "share" function among MOOC
participants or for specific and targeted / or personal needs with
further discussion, debate, evaluation, review, edit, etc. Influence
of a tutor in such cases should be kept to a minimum, and the
interaction of the subjects of education limited to, preferably,
advice and / or side (but not indifferent) supervision, while the
student specifies the choice, searches and analyzes the literature,
and comes to some conclusions and opinions .
Including internet technology in the information (education)
field in cross-cultural interaction in the classroom, one needs
a clear idea of what is advisable for such a powerful tool.
Some appropriate applications are: online (as well as offline)
integration of materials and information of a global network to the content of classes, independent research and information
selection by students in the framework of the project in various
modes, filling up emerging gaps in knowledge, carrying out acts
of intercultural communication, and implementing of educational
contacts with the cultural environment mediated through Media
and Internet dialogue . Bringing network information and
resources into the content of practical classes, the teacher
actualizes the situational modernity of world community life,
involves active collaborative cognitive research and scientific and
creative activities, develops curiosity, skills, critical thinking and
creativity, as well as contributes to the formation of cross-cultural
adaptation and the achievement of its productive level.
Figure 3 presents the ratio of cognitive, emotional and axiological,
conative and integrative components of high IAL students after
the experimental program. The connections between these
components were also proved statistically by the Pearson
correlation coefficient (Figure 3).
It is important that at the preliminary (training) stage of
intercultural adaptation in the information field, it is obligatory to
pay due attention to the development and formation of related and
complementary components, which are amenable to pedagogical
influence. Some are: intercultural tolerance, cultural awareness,
multi-ethnic competence, linguistic communicative competence,
axiological position and orientation, knowledge-system, the
willingness of the subject of education for effective cross-cultural
interaction and others. Productivity of the interaction here stands
for "the successful and potential" opportunistic power of the
"integrative system" of the interaction itself as a category – crossdirected
vectors of mutual influence that maximize individual
psychological, social, cultural, speech and other possible types of self-development of participating parties. Within those,
there is interchange and enrichment of the intellectual, cultural,
emotional, and other spheres of a person’s activity, accompanied
by some quantitative and qualitative changes of an individual
in the process of conscious "entry", empathy and adjustment
(adaptation) to new environmental conditions. Identified in
the functional definition of the intercultural adaptation were:
regulatory, praxeological (relational creative transformation of
the individual directly and of the environment in the course of
their interaction), axiological, communicational, and socialization.
Figure 2: The ETL and EIL dynamics in relation to IAL of EG students before and after the experimental program.
||Emotional and axiological component
||Conative (behavioral) component
||Self-relation as to the future specialist
||Professional and personal self-realization
||Active professional and personal position
Table 2: Mean indices of the Fisher z-transformation and Mann-Whitney U-test of EG students with high IAL, ρ ≤ 0.01
Figure 3: The ratio of cognitive, emotional and axiological,conative and integrative components of high IAL students in EG.
One of the main differences of cross-cultural adaptation from
its other types and varieties lies in the fact that it immanently
bears axiological purpose; it is filled with value-orienting content,
which has a direct impact on the proportion of subject-practical
efforts in the process of adaptation. This is a set of value
orientations having both direct and inverse dependence on the
level of operating with general and specialized knowledge, as well
as communicative skills relevant to the situation of interaction,
which, in turn, is seen as a process of equivalent exchange of
values . The higher the level of cognitive, practical, evaluative,
reflective and organizational skills in an interdisciplinary field and
in the professional activity is, the more likely the higher the level
of individual adaptation, productive cross-cultural interaction
and personal self-realization in the educational information
field of dialogue of cultures is an internal driving force there
is a slowly maturing "conflict" between the familiar, native,
mastered cultural activities (in its various forms and means) and
the new, changed conditions, requirements, needs and potential
opportunities in the cultural environment. A dominant position,
however, is represented by praxeological function as it is intended
to transform the acts of activities and behavioral patterns, realized
in the information field into an integrative quality of a person.
That provides the opportunity to solve stereotyped, typical and
extraordinary tasks and problems arising in the process of crosscultural
The study suggests the concrete result of cross-cultural adaptation
- "adaptability" of an individual in varying degrees is understood
as the current status of the subject in terms of synchrony,
allowing a person to feel confident and free in the new sociocultural
environment, to take active, (ideally) internally-motivated
participation in the core activities, to have moderate sensitivity
to changes in various spheres of life of the new society and the
environment, and to strive for intellectual self-development and
cultural enrichment of their own inner world in the real crosscultural
Resulting indicators of the intercultural adaptation in the
information field, which are amenable to ranking and grading
are: subjectively-satisfaction with the new social role of an
individual and their own position and the position in society and
space of other cultures, as well as relevantly free orientation in
it; conscious (internally motivated) compliance with the new
requirements, standards, principles, traditions of social and
cultural environment; confidence and lack of frustration, anxiety,
depression and other negative emotions and experiences;
readiness, "openness", desire and ability to productive crosscultural
interaction and full participation in the social and cultural
activities of the new community. The objective indicators are:
increase of the creativity of a person and their activity; filling up
of structural componential characteristics of students’ activities
and their knowledge system with the new content enriched in
the new socio-cultural conditions; improving foreign language
competence and skills for the use of the complex of linguistic
resources; developing communication and cooperation on parity
rights, dialogue, mutual respect and equality; the progressive
learning and acquisition of artifacts and new achievements in all
fields and spheres of society; and increasing social, psychological,
and cultural stability, flexibility and balance, as well as equipoise
between their own identity and personality and the new society
and cultural environment. Thus, these criteria and indicators
for individual adaptability in cross-cultural interaction witness
quantitative and qualitative changes in the spheres of personality,
occurring in the course of intercultural adaptation, differentiated
by level, type, strength, vector, resistance, etc. These are the most
important characteristics, describing the behavior of an individual
in different social and cultural environment, affecting cognitive,
intellectual, emotive, evaluative, activity, social, and cultural
aspects of the conversion and development of the individual.
Since the process of intercultural adaptation and of socio-cultural
perceptions are closely interrelated, being realized on the
surface level in the form of estimates, judgments, stereotypes,
some (including specific) behavioral patterns of activity are
defined through adaptability of an individual, in opposition and
contradistinction to the disadaptation.
Also, when a new social identity of a student positively complied
with the new environment is formed, when they increase their
personal, creative potential proportionally to their activation of
and cooperation in various types of activity in interpersonal and
intergroup relations of alien culture communities, searching, at the
same time, for conditions necessary for a person’s self-actualization
in the changed circumstances and its effective implementation while contacting with the representatives of different cultures,
the complexity, diversity and ambiguity of the phenomenon of
intercultural adaptation in cross-cultural interaction, becomes
apparent which affects all areas and aspects of the personality
in its entirety. It should be noted here that currently the
situation regarding the preliminary stage of the phenomenon of
adaptation in education science is hypothesized and requires a
more in-depth study on the theoretical plane, as well as more
substantial empirical and experimental verification in practice,
leaving the indicated issue an open question. Nevertheless, the
results obtained allow us to speak confidently about the success,
efficiency and high productivity of the information field use in
cross-cultural interaction for the development of intercultural
adaptation and tolerance, multiethnic competence, cognitive, mental and verbal activity, cultural awareness and values. This
work opens up opportunities for further research in the defining
of psychological and pedagogical conditions and factors for
the development of intercultural adaptation of students in the
e-learning environment, developing new educational modules
based on cross-cultural characteristics of the participants, and
preventing xenophobia and inter-ethnic hostility in modern
Sincere appreciation is expressed to Dr. Aida Kiryakova, Dr. Alla
Ksenofontova and Kathy Rexford. Your advice, support, assistance
and knowledge you freely share is priceless.
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