Culturally Responsive Online Learning for Asian/Pacific Islanders in a Pacific Island University

Culturally Responsive Online Learning for Asian/Pacific Islanders in a Pacific Island University

Catherine E. Stoicovy (University of Guam, USA)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-4486-1.ch007
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This chapter examines the socio-cultural contexts of Asian/Pacific islanders in a Western Pacific island to identify key components for culturally responsive online course development. A model for constructing an online learning environment is proposed using McLoughlin and Oliver’s (2000) principles as design frameworks for designing a culturally inclusive instructional design that will support Asian/Pacific islanders’ learning in blended courses.
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Culturally Responsive Education

Culturally responsive education is not a new concept. For over two decades, educators and researchers have looked at ways to develop a closer fit between students’ home culture and the school as a response to the growing diversity in classrooms across the United States. This work has had a variety of labels including “culturally appropriate” (Au & Jordan, 1981), “culturally congruent” (Erickson & Mohatt, 1981), “culturally responsive” (Cazden & Leggett, 1981), “culturally compatible” (Jordan, 1985; Vogt, Jordan, & Tharp, 1987), culturally relevant (Ladson-Billings, 1992, 1995) and culturally sensitive (Banks, 1999). The idea behind culturally responsive instruction is that teaching approaches build upon the strengths that students bring from their home cultures, instead of ignoring these strengths or requiring that students learn through approaches that conflict with their cultural values (Au, 2001, p. 3). In doing so, culturally responsive pedagogy places other cultures alongside middle class mainstream culture at the center of the instructional paradigm (Smith, 1991).

Most educators would agree with Au (1993) that for educational experiences to be relevant, they must connect with the students’ particular life experiences and perspectives. Students learn in different ways and under different conditions, many of which are governed by their cultural socialization. The more a teacher understands the cultures and other aspects of diversity in a classroom, the more likely the teacher can provide a classroom context that is culturally responsive and that will result in successful, high-quality education for culturally and linguistically diverse students (Au, 1993; Gay, 1988; Gilbert & Gay, 1985; Ladson-Billings, 1992, 1995; Smith, 1991; Vogt, Jordan, & Tharp, 1987). For example, the Kamehameha Early Education Program (KEEP), established in Hawaii in the early 1970s as a research and development center to meet the educational needs of native Hawaiian children, provides an example of how an educational program can develop academic skills if it is compatible with the culture of the children it serves. These children, ethnic minority group speakers of Hawaiian Creole English, were not achieving well in school, particularly in reading (Au & Jordan, 1981).

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