Date of Award

Summer 2007

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Urban Services - Urban Education

Committee Director

Dana Burnett

Committee Member

Arthur L. Buikema, Jr.

Committee Member

Marlene M. Preston

Committee Member

Gwendolyn Lee-Thomas


Much has been done to prepare international teaching assistants to teach American undergraduates, but very little has been done to help the undergraduates learn effectively from instructors of different cultural and linguistic backgrounds. This research used a quasi-experimental, quantitative approach combined with a small ethnographic study to examine the impact of a short intercultural training activity on the satisfaction and achievement of freshman students in the fall Freshman Biology laboratory course at a large public university in Virginia. Satisfaction was measured by the responses of students on an end-of-course questionnaire, and achievement by their grades in the course. Audio interviews with individual students provided further information. The results of a MANOVA showed a small but statistically significant positive effect of the training on student satisfaction, despite the severe time constraints. However, further analysis using t-tests and ANOVAS produced nothing of significance and indicated that the first result was suspect, probably because of very unbalanced cells in the research design. Much useful information was gleaned from the training activity and from the ethnographic study. This research is only a first step in determining what can be done to prepare students to learn effectively from internationals and to see if some of the training activities widely used in the business world can be fruitfully applied in the university setting.