UR – Research proposal (1)

COURSE: Understanding Research—UR

FORUM: Explore your research interests

TOPICS: Research, proposal,

Step 3 – Part 1

Keywords: research, methods, enactivism, ontology, epistemology, methodology, intercultural communication, sampling,

Link to process document

Link to forum

Link to blog

Thank you to all those who have helped me reach more clarity on this assignment and the research tasks that lie ahead! (-:

The following is a condensed version of my reflections on the several stages of my research proposal. I welcome your feedback and comments.


The research will explore issues of globalizations related to the personal learning experience of long-time international sojourners. This qualitative study will examine the dynamics of personal transformation affecting international sojourners and the relevant development of global-mindedness as processes of learning ensuing from intercultural contacts, reflection, acculturation, increased cultural and intercultural awareness, development of intercultural communication competence, and personal growth.  To contain the scope of my research, I could (still undecided) consider the theoretical framework and taxonomy in Milton Bennett’s developmental model of intercultural sensitivity (see below) against which to analyze my findings.

Possible Themes: global learning, identity building, intercultural competency, identity negotiation, avowed and ascribed identity, intercultural learning, cross-cultural/multicultural identity, intercultural communication, tolerance for ambiguity, adaptedness, experiential learning, long-life learning, reflective learning,

These themes seem to suggest a link between one’s intercultural experience and learning. Intercultural competence emerges as the outcome of such interplay. One’s continuous contact with a different culture sets in motion certain learning mechanisms that preside over his or her ability to develop intercultural competence.

How does this study relate to my participation in the ALGC?

This tentative proposal relates to the relevance of learning in the experience of people who live and work outside of their original culture. The themes also relate to one of the core aspects of the ALGC, i.e. Global Learning, which has been broadly defined in a previous course as “that aspect of learning that includes an understanding of human interactions and knowledge across cultural boundaries in light of the cultural differences affecting the participants’ diversity of communication styles, values and beliefs. Global Learning occurs within a collaborative and transformational context of world-wide networks. Global Learning may eventually promote a paradigm shift that would ultimately redefine people’s identities on a personal and potentially global scale.”


This study is directed to all those who are interested in learning more about the experience of international sojourners and the development of intercultural competence as a process of learning, identity negotiation and ultimately personal transformation. It may be of interests to scholars, interculturalists, cross-cultural trainers, people working internationally, educators, and to the many people who are living the life of international sojourners at the start of the third millennium.

This study will contribute to increasing acceptance and understanding of a new way of contracting one’s own cultural identity beyond the limitations and allegiances imposed by monoculturalism. Recognizing and promoting transnational attitudes will hopefully play a significant part in defusing current nationalistic/ethnic strives.


Having grown up in a bi-lingual area close to an international border has certainly contributed to my interest in the learning opportunities presented by cross-cultural experiences. After living abroad for many years and through my experience in the ALGC I have realized the importance of learning for our human experience. This realization prompts me to start this research on the link between intercultural learning, personal transformation, and the shaping of identity in a globalized society.


As I believe that culture plays a fundamental role in our learning processes, I am approaching this research from a contextual constructivist approach as suggested by Cobern (1993). In his view, “construction takes place in a context – a cultural context created by, for example, social and economic class, religion, geographical location, ethnicity, and language.” (Cobern, p.1)

In the course of the research, an enactivist perspective will allow for additional meanings to emerge from the narratives.

This research will be both descriptive and explanatory. The research will follow a phenomenological approach within a qualitative research strategy. Accordingly, the focus of the research will be on people’s subjective experiences and interpretations of the world. It will therefore develop from a hermeneutic perspective.

AREAS OF INQUIRY (more can be added)


  • Degree of adaptation experienced by the participants (adaptation is used here broadly to cover different levels of intercultural engagement)
  • Shaping of identities
  • Learning about the new cultures (ABC, i.e. Affective, Behavioral, Cognitive)


  • Importance of fluency in the local language


I will use snowball/purposive sampling to select a small group of people (max 15) who have an experience relevant to this research.

The main selection criteria will include the following:

  • Participants will be individuals that have lived in more than one culture different from their original ones for a certain number of years.
  • Participants will be independent movers who left their original country following a personal call.
  • Participants will be based in different countries across the globe.
  • Participants will be somewhat fluent in the language of their relevant host country.


This research will be a world-wide scale descriptive case study emerging from in-depth interviews of a selected population.

Data collection will occur in two phases, which will ensure that the research questions will be adequately addressed. This dual collection process will allow each participant to reflect upon her or his intercultural experience. In accordance with the scope of this research and its hermeneutic nature, I will encourage participants to explore their multicultural experiences from whatever angle they may wish to do it. This will ensure credibility.

This study will follow Guba & Lincoln’s (1985) taxonomy on credibility, transferability, dependability and confirmability.


Respondents’ thick narratives will be collected through semi-structured interviews in the form of qualitative “write in” questionnaires.


This will allow respondents to reflect on their experience and formulate written descriptions that will be analyzed without the need to transcribe them. Respondents, particularly non-native English speakers, will have the opportunity to find the words that more accurately describe their experience. This method is also inexpensive when done though through the e-mail, and doesn’t have a time limit.


No opportunity to observe para-language patterns such as non-verbal communication cues. No immediate opportunity to ask follow-up questions.


This may be done at a later stage to address certain aspects as they emerge from the narrative analysis. It will serve as a triangulation tool. Rather than implementing additional theoretical sampling, I will attempt to clarify and deepen the findings collected through the available written narratives. This will be done iteratively with the examination of available, relevant literature.



A new cultural environment exerts an influence on people’s experience, which may have an impact on people’s identities. I see the process of identity negotiation as a learning experience.

  • What is the influence of culture on personal identity
  • How is one’s experience influenced by perceived and/or projected avowed and ascribes identities?
  • What are the building blocks of personal identity?

Individual’s ability to successfully engage cross-culturally:

People who live outside of their original culture develop skills and knowledge to deal with their everyday reality. This process lies at the foundation of how successfully (however that may be defined) they engage with their context.

  • What are the difficulties encountered when living in another culture?
  • What are the perceived benefits of such experience?
  • What are the learning outcomes of such experience?
  • How do international sojourners balance their original cultural identity with the need for functionality in a new cultural environment?
  • What are the learning mechanisms at work?

Stages of Intercultural competence:

Stages of intercultural development are not set in stone; they accurately reflect the main levels of experience through which people refine their intercultural competencies. They can be considered stages of global learning.

  • How does one develop intercultural competence?
  • In what ways do peoples’ narratives reveal issues of denial, defense, minimization, acceptance, adaptation, integration as defined in Milton Bennett’s developmental model of intercultural sensitivity, and of transformation, an additional step in the development of intercultural competence as defined in the literature?

LITERATURE AND THEORY (very tentative)

The literature will serve as a foundation for the formulation of the interview questions; it will also serve as an aid for the iterative analysis of the finding as they emerge from the narratives.

The literature will include literature explored during the ALGC program and relevant scholarly publications on issues of intercultural communication. As an example, Milton Bennett’s developmental model of intercultural sensitivity could be used to inform my research questions.

Relevant literature will include publications on relevant topics, e.g.  Cross-cultural Adaptation, Multicultural Identity, Third-Culture Identity, Intercultural Communication Competence, the “A-B-C approach,” Culture Shock, Achieved Identity, experiential learning, perturbation, schemata.



Bennett, M. J. (1993). Towards Ethnorelativism: A developmental model of intercultural sensitivity. In R. M. Paige (Ed.), Education for the intercultural experience. Yarmouth, ME: Intercultural Press.

Cobern, W. W. (1993). Contextual Constructivism: The Impact of Culture on the Learning and Teaching of Science. In K. G. Tobin (editor), The practice of constructivism in science education (pp. 51-69). Hillsdale, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, Inc. Retrieved on Oct. 15, 2008 from http://www.wmich.edu/slcsp/SLCSP115/slcsp115.pdf

Lincoln, YS. & Guba, EG. (1985). Naturalistic Inquiry. Newbury Park, CA: Sage Publications.

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