East versus West: The Descendants of Confucianism vs. Evidence-Based Learning Mainland Chinese Learners in Pursuit of Western-Based Education in Singapore
Kumaran Rajaram

Purpose – To understand on the effects of cultural dislocation aspects of mainland Chinese students in their pursuit of western-based education and their influence on the students’ learning styles and, ultimately, their perceived learning effectiveness. Design/Methodology/Approach - Building on ideas by Hofstede (1984), Hofstede and Bond (1988) and Rodrigues (2004), an analysis was performed on mainland Chinese students who were enrolled in Singapore business educational programs in terms of their learning styles due to cultural dislocation issues which influence their optimal perceived learning effectiveness. Findings – The effects of cultural dislocation characteristics measuring against cultural dimensions (power distance, uncertainty avoidance and philosophy of Confucianism) by Hofstede (1984) and Hosfstde and Bond (1988) on the effective learning styles via the preferred instructional techniques adopted are reported. Lectures emerged as the most perceived effective technique preferred (self-reported by students) when measured across the cultural dimensions of power distance and uncertainty avoidance. Case-studies surfaced as the preferred instructional technique in terms of perceived learning effectiveness and acquiring knowledge (examined based on the philosophy of Confucianism) most effectively. The results address a preliminary scope on how cultural aspects influence students’ preference of instructional techniques in terms of perceived learning effectiveness. Research Limitations/Implications – Research studies conducted in Singapore may differ from other Asian countries that attract Asian students for western business education. Moreover, this study included only mainland Chinese students. Practical Implications – The study presents strategies and practices for facilitating effective learning for mainland Chinese students in western-based education – choice of instructional techniques. These are essential in providing quality and effective knowledge acquisition in bridging cultural distances between eastern and western-based education Originality/Value – The findings allow the academic faculty and management of universities and employers of organisations to have a better appreciation and understanding on the cultural dislocation issues that influence mainland Chinese students’ learning.

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