The Effectiveness of Document-Based Questionsin Enhancing the Intercultural Competence of Students at An-Najah National University

Discussion Committee: 
Dr. Suzanne Arafat / Supervisor
Dr. Fayez Mahamid / Co-Supervisor
Dr. Nedal Jayousi / External Examiner
Dr. Ayman Nazzal / Internal Examiner
Dr. Suzanne Arafat / Supervisor
Dr. Fayez Mahamid / Co-Supervisor
Jonathan Edwin Wright
The aim of this study is to introduce and evaluate the effectiveness of a new instructional technique – document-based questions (DBQs) – in enhancing the intercultural competence of students at An-Najah National University in Nablus, Palestine. DBQs were originally developed as method of instruction in the field of history. They contain a set of primary sources which the student must analyze in order to answer an essay question. This research is proposing that by including conflicting perspectives within the target culture, DBQs can mimic actual cross-cultural experience indirectly and teach students to avoid overgeneralization and stereotyping. The purpose of this study was to determine whether training utilizing this technique is effective or not. The Cultural Intelligence (CQ) model was chosen as the theoretical framework for this study. The study used a pre-/post-test experimental design. A sample of 42 students (21 for the control, and 21 for the experimental) was randomly selected. They each were given twelve 50-minute treatment sessions taught by the same foreign instructor. The control group received lessons on professional skills in the English language, while the experimental group received training in cross-cultural communication utilizing DBQs as the method of instruction. Students were administered a questionnaire prior to treatment measuring previous interactions with foreigners. The main instrument was an Arabic translation of the Cultural Intelligence Scale (CQS) which was administered before and after the treatment. ANCOVA and MANCOVA tests were used to analyze the results of the study. The study found no significant differences between the control and experimental treatments. However, the study found that previous interactions with foreigners have a significant effect upon treatment success. Interestingly, the study found that previous interactions in person and on the internet have opposite effects. Those who had never previously dealt with foreigners in person experienced a greater increase in CQ than those who had done so. On the contrary, those who had never previously dealt with foreigners on the internet experienced little to no change in CQ while those who had previously dealt with foreigners on the internet experienced a dramatic increase in CQ. The researcher proposed a number of directions for future research as well as some practical implications for pedagogical practice. Teachers should continue to search for and develop new ways to expose their students to cultural content in addition to linguistic content, but they should be careful to avoid creating stereotypes by presenting a simplistic view of the target culture. Additionally, teachers should find ways to provide personal interaction with foreigners as this was shown to be a powerful learning experience. Future research should utilize DBQs in other contexts and experimental structures in order to further evaluate their usefulness.
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