Using a Discussion Board to
Promote Cross-Cultural
November 5, 2005
3rd Annual Teaching and
Learning Mentors
Best Practices Conference
Second Iteration
• Creating Diversity Experiences in a Rural
– Shelley D. Kilpatrick and Debbie Gamble
– Illinois Sociological Association
• Differences
– Gen Ed. vs. Upper-level Majors
– Topics relevant to new course
– Moved from 3-school exchange to 2 school exchange
Southwest Baptist University
Southwest Baptist
Southwest Baptist University
As many students from rural counties as from the
big cities of Kansas City, St. Louis, and Springfield
SBU Students
1,514 Main campus students
56% Female
90% Single
67% Baptist, 18% other Christian, 15% other
Top Majors:
Elementary Ed.
Christian Ministries
Social Psychology
• Upper level sociology-psychology course
• Covers diversity issues, cultural understanding
issues, human relationships, group relationships,
• Goals and Objectives
– Examine individual, group, and societal level
phenomena from a social psychological perspective
– Be able to make real world applications in areas such
as education, business, race relations, and personal
Activities that provide context
• Classroom lectures on cross-cultural issues
– Individualistic vs. Collectivistic culture, for example
• Reading assignment by professor in Japan and
answer associated questions
• Information about Japan mini-lectures/slides
– Weddings, politics, holidays, etc.
– Often tied to discussion topics or things Japanese
students bring up in discussion
• Extra Credit Field experience – Japanese
restaurant and/or cultural festival
The Initial Exchange
• The Japanese Class
– Kyoto Koka Women’s University (Kyoto, Japan)
– Digital English class
– Native English Speaker Professor (Jim Drayton)
• Begin with Pen Pal Profiles
– General personal information and a picture (handout)
• Email Pen Pal Exchange to break the ice (1-2
The Initial Exchange
Email Pen Pals
– Matched students for initial exchange
– Goal is to get to know one other person from another
• Students find similarities
• Students have experience communicating with others who
have different goals and different language skills
• Students like this
• Can’t monitor or advise students easily on email functions
• Need to check Pen Pal Profiles before they send
• Pen Pal may not respond
Diversity Discussion Board
Discussion Board
– 2 groups, mixed representation from each school, each
led by one professor
– Topics most in line with Social Psych class content
– Graded by quantity (2 postings/week) and quality
(meaningful, uses terms learned in class, helpful to
others, etc.)
– Rubric Handout
Teaching Netiquette
1. Postings should be clear to non-native
English speakers.
racist comments
sexist comments
derogatory, inflammatory, or insulting comments
vulgar comments
curse words
Teaching Netiquette
3. Please be respectful of your fellow students.
4. Be cautious in proselytizing.
Diversity Discussion Board
Humanity Café
School Spirit and Identity
Helping and Prosocial Behavior
Attitudes and Persuasion
Romantic Relationships
Prejudice and Discrimination
Sample Topic
• Helping and Prosocial Behavior
– The United States has recently experienced a major hurricane
with extensive damage to homes, universities, and businesses.
Many people gave money, food, water, and clothes to help those
in need. Cities around the country took in refugees. Many
volunteers gave up time to help with the clean-up and rebuilding.
Why do you think they did this?
– Help has come from countries all over the world. Why would
countries so far away, like Japan, help the Americans in the city
of New Orleans and neighboring affected areas?
The Discussion Board
• SBU and Kyota Koka Exchange
• Example discussions
• How to set up a discussion forum
Diversity Discussion Board
Intercultural exchange of ideas
Students learn to communicate with non-native
Student participation in discussion, including those
who won’t talk in class
Application of concepts learned in class
Practice with technology
The “Cool” factor
Experiencing globalization first hand
Diversity Discussion Board
• Class time to explain everything
• Logistics of school schedules, getting everyone on the
web board
• Reticence and English Skills of Japanese students may
make it seem one-sided at times
• Out-of-class time
– Professor monitoring, reading, grading discussion
– Students complained about 2 postings/week
Diversity Discussion Board
Lessons Learned….So Far
• All parties need to be flexible
• Be clear about goals up front
• English practice, diversity experience, applying
social psych concepts
• Know your technology, demonstrate to students
• Students can police themselves (mostly)

Creating Diversity Experiences in a Rural University