Cultural Exploration

Culture, Communication, and You Assignments (Meets SLOs 1, 2, 3, 4): You will complete three assignments that help you explore culture, communication, and specifically, how they fit together. These assignments are slightly varied, so be sure to pay attention to details:

Us and Them: Exploring the Outgroup – you will identify a culture you are NOT affiliated with (i.e., your outgroup) to explore. For this assignment, you should take a deep dive into this culture and connect it to several course concepts. This is a primary research assignment. To best help you explore this culture, you should identify two people who ARE members of the culture to INTERVIEW. You should draw on course concepts and central themes to write your questions; you will then synthesize their experiences for your paper. The method of display for this assignment is an argumentative essay (3-4 pages in APA 7).

You will identify a culture you are NOT affiliated with (i.e., your outgroup) to explore. For this assignment, you should take a deep dive into this culture and connect it to several course concepts. This is a primary research assignment. To best help you explore this culture, you should identify two people who ARE members of the culture to INTERVIEW. You should draw on course concepts and central themes to write your questions. You will then synthesize their experiences to answer a big question; your answer will be an argument supported with reasons + evidence. *The method of display for this assignment is an argumentative essay (3-4 pages in APA 7).

The purpose of this assignment ; by completing this assignment, students will…

  1. understand the distinctions between in- and out- groups;
  2. develop open-ended interview questions that draw from course concepts and themes;
  3. contrast cultures based on members’ experiences; and,
  4. argue using relevant data collected during interviews and other course information.

Think – for a moment, if you will – about the trajectory of our papers this semester:

First, we determined our personal identities and expressed those autobiographically.

Second, we dissected our ingroup – the larger body of people who we feel some affiliation with. Why? Because culture does not occur in isolation – it occurs with others. We start by understanding the communication process, which inevitably involves other people. When we reconsider the name of this course – Intercultural Communication – the reason for dissecting our social groups is more or less clear.

Third, we will explore the outgroup – the focus of this paper is on “the other.”

When it comes to seeing the world from a different standpoint – to walk a mile in another’s shoes – means to gain some firsthand knowledge from them. That is the foundation for this writing assignment.

The topic you are investigating is the other. This is the person in the out-group, the person with whom we do not necessarily feel a connection. But who is that? How can you recognize the other? What qualities does the other have, or what rules does the other have to follow, or what characteristic is unique to the other, that makes them identifiable?

The other is not us. It’s them. You’ve probably heard of them – in some way, shape, or form…no matter how small or insignificant…they are different from us.

You probably recognize this mindset in people around you. Hopefully, through this assignment, our definition of other can evolve. To complete this assignment, you should:

Identify groups/cultures you are NOT affiliated with. These must be cultures to which you do not belong. To begin with, you can think of several – though for your assignment, you need only 1-2.

Interview two members of one culture or of two different cultures. You should use the same interview questions for both interviews. Though these interviews MUST be synchronous, they need not be in-person. You’ll want to 1) record your interviews as well as 2) take detailed notes during your interviews to ensure accuracy during later steps.

Write an argumentative essay that responds to the provided prompt. An argumentative essay requires you to investigate a topic; collect, generate, and evaluate evidence; and establish/defend a position in a concise manner.

Your argumentative essay must contain a clear CLAIM, several REASONS, and specific EVIDENCE. (See more about Claims-Reasons-Evidence here.)

To write your claim, consider the following  and answer the following question:

What does Ramana Maharshi mean?

An argument is synonymous with a claim, which is a thesis statement that can be disagreed with. To form an argument is to have an idea and seek ways to defend that idea to others.

Based on what you know and your understanding of course material, determine your answer and write it as a claim.

I believe Maharshi means …

Now that you have an argument, you need reasons. This means reasons why you believe what you know; it’s getting at the because behind your argument. For instance, if I said carrots are a root vegetable, you may ask me how I know. I would say my reason is they grow below ground. When we write, we want multiple reasons to defend our argument. To determine reasons, you should think broadly – of reasons that apply in more situation than one. To think of reasons, think of BIG ideas – not specific examples.

With reasons established, our final task is to provide evidence. This is when you draw from the interviews you’ve conducted as well as other course sources to support your reasons which support your claim. The evidence helps you show why your reasons are true, and as such, your argument is correct. Evidence is specific examples.

which can be seen in the examples of …

Importantly, each REASON should contain beneath it many pieces of EVIDENCE from many different SOURCES. This is called information synthesis. View this brief video for an example of synthesis:
For more information on SYNTHESIZING INFORMATION, see this short video.

NOTE: Several excellent resources exist online to help with synthesis. If you are struggling, be sure to check online for advice and suggestions for making progress.

A great rule of thumb is to include at least two sources per paragraph or main idea. How do these sources talk to or help make-sense of each other?

I’ve created a graphic organizer that helps me visualize my arguments:


Given our wide coverage of information so far, much is available of inclusion here, including:
 Bias
 Code-Switching
 Communication Accommodation
 Cultural Patterns
 Cultural Relationships
 Defining the “Other”
 Globalization  High-Low Context
 Identity
 Individualism-Collectivism
 Indulgence-Restraint
 Intercultural Communication Competence
 Masculinity-Femininity
 Monochronic-Polychronic  National Culture
 Physical Cultural Differences
 Power Distance
 Representation
 Uncertainty Reduction
 Verbal & Nonverbal Communication

It is likely that these larger concepts will help form your REASONS and that you’ll find the specific EVIDENCE from things like TEDTalks, readings, and your interviews.

Your primary research responsibility for this assignment comes in the form of the TWO interviews. You are permitted to use other materials as you form your argument – and I undoubtedly feel you will – but your priority is on gathering primary evidence from members of different cultural groups.

You will complete TWO interviews using the same interview PROTOCOL (list of your questions in the order you’ll ask them). Your protocol should contain at least 12 questions, and the majority (9/12) should be open-ended questions.

For more information on Writing Open-Ended Questions, see these short videos.

Open-ended questions allow for more than one possible response or does not limit interviewees to certain answers (e.g., yes/no). For instance,
Closed: Do you like open-ended questions?
Open: How would you describe your relationship with open-ended questions?

As you write your protocols, focus on questions that help you understand what it means to be the other. You should use common language instead of the “fancy” words we use in class, but your goal is the same. You want to understand the cultures of the two individuals you interview. Your questions should not be prying, and your volunteer should be told they can choose not to answer questions that may cause discomfort.

When citing an interviewee in your paper, you need only indicate their LAST Name before information attributed to them. Personal interviews do not have to go on the references page.

Before you complete your interviews, plan to run your protocol by me.

IMPORTANT: plan to RECORD your interviews and submit those recordings as evidence. PLUS – having recordings ensures you accurately report what your interviewees said while writing your paper.

If you use any other materials from this course, you should plan to cite appropriately.
APA Style Format For more information on APA FORMAT and RESEARCH, see these short videos.

APA format is a method for documenting where our evidence comes from. Each of these videos provides further support for you while writing.

APA Style Format will help you with the references page and parenthetical citations. Why we research discusses that the purpose of research is not to find peoples’ words but to find supporting ideas. How to research explains the process of finding source information using Boolean logic and keywords. Last, Evaluating Sources demonstrates how to apply the C.R.A.A.P. method to evaluate sources.
Why We Research
How to Research
Evaluating Sources

For paraphrasing or summarizing text from sources, use the following formats. For quotations, see box 4.
Parenthetical Citation – Single Author The formula for parenthetical citations in APA style is simple: (LASTNAME, Year).

This would be the Author’s Last Name + a comma + the year of publication all inside parentheses.

Example: (Vareberg, 2022)
Parenthetical Citation – Two Authors What if there are two authors? The formula adds the second author’s last name to the citation: (LASTNAME1 & LASTNAME 2, Year).

This would be First Author’s Last Name + an ampersand + Second Author’s Last Name + a comma + the year of publication all inside parentheses.
Example: (Vareberg & Platt, 2022)
Parenthetical Citation – Three or more Authors What if there are three or more authors? The formula changes a bit here. Instead of listing every author, we use the abbreviation et al. – translation: and others. The formula would look like this: (LASTNAME1 et al., Year).

This would be First Author’s Last Name + et al + a period + a comma + the year of publication all inside parentheses.

Example: (Vareberg et al., 2022)
Parenthetical Citation – Using a Direct Quotation When do you use a page number? ONLY when quoting the author(s) directly. It would look like this: (LASTNAME1, Year, p. #).

This would be Author’s Last Name + a comma + the year + a comma + a short-letter p followed by a period + the page(s) number all inside parentheses.

Example: (Vareberg, 2022, p. 202)
What is the difference between a PARENTHETICAL citation and an IN-TEXT citation?
 A parenthetical citation occurs in PARENTHESES; you should be able to remove everything inside the parentheses and the sentence would not lose meaning.  An in-text citation occurs as a PART of the SENTENCE; if you remove your citation, your sentence will likely lose some meaning.
Emojis have been found to increase students’ perceptions that instructors care about them (Vareberg et al., 2022). Example:
Vareberg and colleagues (2022) found that instructors who use emojis may increase students’ perceptions that they are cared for.

This assignment, in the past, has been completed as an argumentative essay with an expected length of 3-4 pages, written in APA 7 style (no title page). (You can find more about writing Interview Papers here.)
For more information on ARGUMENTATIVE ESSAYS, see this short video.

Argumentative essays are your chance to make a claim and support/defend it.

To argue/persuade. (Your goal is to present a claim + evidence in a way that convinces the audience to adopt your viewpoint.)

It is necessary that you organize your work in a way that will be understood by the audience. Your work must be led by a thesis statement, use clear topic sentences and transitions, multiple paragraphs, appropriate work quality, and a title that orients the audience.

In short, your work should include a clear introduction – where you orient the audience to what will be presented; a body – where each member contributes one significant concept that are connected through clear transitions; and, a conclusion – where you recap what we should now know after this presentation.

Included are several resources that may help you as you complete your assignment:
Grammar Basics  looks at simple grammar rules that can greatly improve quality
Commonly Confused Words  compares often misused words for what they mean
Grammarly  link to external site to run a complete grammar check on your work Reciteworks  link to external site to run a complete check on your APA citations
Paper Formatting  video presentation of how to format a paper in APA style
Utilizing Databases  video presentation on academic databases/credible research

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