Levels of Cultural Activity: Differences by Type of Roommate
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One recent trend in colleges and universities across the nation is the internationalization of higher education. This internationalization has taken form in two different areas: (a) the curriculum and (b) the co-curriculum. The curricular realm has responded by offering additional or new programs in languages and area studies as well as opportunities to study abroad. The co-curricular realm has also responded in the construction of international centers, and the development of international-style programming and international theme housing.
One component of the co-curricular realm, international theme housing, has enabled American students to experience a living arrangement with a cross-cultural focus. Researchers have explored the impact this type of arrangement can make in the lives of students during their college career. However, no extensive research has been conducted to see if a connection can be made between roommate pairings and cultural activity.
The purpose of this study was to examine the cultural activity of two groups of American students. Cultural activity was defined in this study as: (a) a focus on international issues in academic work, (b) establishing and maintaining relations with non-American people, and (c) participating in events with an international theme. The two groups of students included Americans with International Roommates and Americans with non-International Roommates. The study compared the levels of cultural activity between participants in the two groups.
To discover the differences in cultural activity between these two groupings of students, a series of logs were created for participants to record their daily activities. These logs included sections for participants to record classes, assignments in classes, use of media, social interactions, and social activities. The researcher recruited 30 participants (15 participants with an international roommate and 15 participants with a non-international roommate) to complete these logs. Data were collected over a two-week period. Participants were also asked questions in an exit interview.
Results revealed only limited differences in the levels of cultural activity between the two groups. The findings suggest that living with an international student does not promote higher levels of cultural activity among American college students.
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