Culturally-Sensitive Factors in Teacher Trainees' Learning Environments

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  • HARKIRAT S. DHINDSA AND BARRY J. FRASER

    CULTURALLY-SENSITIVE FACTORS IN TEACHER TRAINEESLEARNING ENVIRONMENTS

    Received 20 August 2003; accepted (in revised form) 11 December 2003

    ABSTRACT. The aims of this research were to cross-validate the Cultural Learning Envi-ronment Questionnaire (CLEQ) in the local context of Brunei and to evaluate culturally-sensitive factors (gender equity, collaboration, deference, competition, teacher authority,modelling and congruence) in teacher trainees learning environments. Data were collectedfrom 475 teacher trainees enrolled at the Universiti Brunei Darussalam by administering aslightly modified version of the CLEQ (Fisher & Waldrip, 1997). Factor and reliability anal-yses supported the instruments suitability to evaluate six of the seven culturally-sensitivefactors (excluding teacher authority) associated with the cultural learning environment ofBruneian teacher trainees. The students generally believed that both genders are treatedequally and that they are independent learners, although, to some extent, they were reluc-tant to give their independent views in their classes. Further research is recommended forinvestigating the factors that contribute to the unusual finding that the students were equallycooperative and competitive. The data revealed no gender differences in trainee teachersperceptions.

    KEY WORDS: Asian studies, cultural factors, gender differences, learning environment,teacher education

    1. INTRODUCTION

    Each culture has its own historical development and interacts with the phys-ical world differently. During periods of its development, each culture hasformed its own worldview that stems from its roots in such crucial factors asreligion, traditional beliefs, philosophy and conventional beliefs (Haidar,1997). Many researchers have studied the effects of culture on educationsystems, teaching and learning (Fisher & Waldrip, 1997, 1999; Harris,1989; Hodson, 1992; Jegede & Okebukola, 1990; Santagata & Stigler,2000). Harris (1989) investigated the effects that teachers from one cul-ture have when teaching students from another culture. Fisher and Waldrip(1997, 1999) researched students cultural learning environment in schoolsettings, whereas Santagata and Stigler (2000) and Jegede (1999) arguedthat classroom teaching is essentially a cultural activity that influences theteaching-learning process at large.

    The cultural background of a learner could have a greater effect on educa-tion than does the subject content, especially in relation to students makingobservations in science classes (Jegede & Okebukola, 1990; Okebukola,1986). Hodson (1992) believes that the task of teaching is to help all children

    Learning Environments Research 7: 165181, 2004.C 2004 Kluwer Academic Publishers. Printed in the Netherlands.

  • 166 HARKIRAT S. DHINDSA AND BARRY J. FRASER

    to acquire knowledge, interests, skills, attitudes and ways of thinking with-out doing violence to their particular beliefs and experiences. However,teachers tend to teach in the ways that they do as a result of subtle implicitand informal influences of which they are not aware (Santagata & Stigler,2000). The managerial strategies developed by lower secondary whiteAmerican teachers did not meet the needs of children from other cultures(Grossman, 1995). According to Delpit (1988), teachers used indirect state-ments or veiled commands instead of direct commands when speaking toblack children. There are studies that show that practising teachers fromdifferent cultures hold both scientific and traditional thoughts about scien-tific concepts and that many of them are not aware that they are defininga concept using a traditional approach (Lawrenz & Gray, 1995; Ogawa,1995; Ogunniyi, Jegede, Ogawa, Yandila & Oladele, 1995).

    Traditional thoughts, therefore, can influence teachers teaching prac-tices. Students learning at a school, therefore, is not only affected by theircultural backgrounds, but also by the cultural backgrounds of their teach-ers. Thus, it is important for teachers to know the cultural diversity intheir classes and to be equipped with methods to cope with students fromdifferent cultures in order to optimise learning.

    According to Thomas (2000), the case for culture-sensitive teacher ed-ucation is not only viable and clear, but it is also long overdue. The devel-opment of culture-sensitive teacher education and training programmes, inthe long run, is likely to provide a teaching force which would be betterprepared for meeting the challenges of cultural diversity in multiculturalclassrooms. However, training teachers to meet the needs of cultural di-versity has not been high on the agenda of most countries, even wherethere are substantial ethnic minorities (Thomas, 1994). Attempts havebeen made by some industrialised countries like the USA, UK, France,Australia and Germany to meet the educational and cultural needs of eth-nic and other minorities, but Tabachnik and Zeichner (1993) reported theexistence of cultural dominance by majority groups that even extends toteacher education in these countries. There is a need, therefore, to modifythe curriculum at teacher training institutions to train culturally sensitiveteachers.

    One of the principal tasks facing teacher education and its relationshipwith culture and multiculturism is how and to what extent the teachertraining curriculum can be modified (Bajunid, 1996). The rich culturalbackgrounds of teachers and their students have been used to develop newculture-sensitive pedagogies. A number of methods and approaches avail-able to cross-cultural training for improving intercultural interactions havebeen discussed at length in the literature (Brislin & Yoshida, 1994; Thomas,2000; Triandis, Kurowaski & Gelfand, 1994; Westwood & Barker, 1990).These methods and approaches can only be used as guides for modifying

  • CULTURAL LEARNING ENVIRONMENT OF TEACHER TRAINEES 167

    the existing curriculum in a country since their direct translation to adifferent social structure and composition might not be suitable. Thus, thereis a need to (a) know the make-up of the community, (b) select the importantdimensions of culture that need to be addressed in a given curriculum and(c) know the existing influence of these dimensions on the training so thatcertain behaviours that can lead to successful training programmes can betargeted for modification (Bajunid, 1996; Brislin & Yoshida, 1994).

    Brunei, though small in size, is rich in cultural diversity. The majorsources of this cultural diversity are the cultural variations in Bruneianpopulation as well as in the temporary migrant population. In 1999, therewere about 53,270 temporary workers from 29 countries working in Brunei(about 17% of the total population). A major proportion of the temporaryworkforce in Brunei comes from Australia, India, New Zealand, Pakistan,South-East Asian countries (SEA countries) and the UK. A considerablefraction of these migrant workers is involved in teaching in primary, sec-ondary and tertiary institutions. Also children of the migrant workers attendprimary, secondary and tertiary educational institutions.

    Brunei is divided into four districts: Brunei-Muara, Tutong, Kuala Belaitand Temburong. Tutong and Kuala Belait districts are named after the eth-nic communities that are concentrated in these regions. The Bruneian lo-cal population consists of mainly Brunei Malay, Kedayan, Tutong, Belait,Bisaya, Dusan, Murut, Iban, Penan and Chinese communities. These eth-nic groups have different languages (dialects), cultures, and eating habits.Moreoever, they are concentrated in specific districts of Brunei Darus-salam. For example, most Malays, Bisaya and Kedayan are found in theBrunei-Muara district, whereas Murut and Ibans are found in Temburongdistrict. Belait and Penan ethnic groups are concentrated in Kuala Belaitdistrict of Brunei and the Chinese are found in all the districts of Brunei.Other ethnic groups are mainly found in Tutong district. According to theBorneo Bulletin (1999) Brunei Yearbook, the population of 314,400 es-timated for Brunei Darussalam in 1997 consisted of 53% male and 47%female.

    The literacy rates (ability to write their names in Malay) of males andfemales are 93.7% and 84.7%, respectively. Moreover, about 1% of the to-tal student population is studying in university. About 85% of the studentsenrolled at the university are teacher trainees. These data show cultural di-versity in Brunei Darussalam. There are also subcultures co-existing withina culture, such as rural, urban, water-village cultures, etc. One can imaginethe cultural diversity that Bruneian students from various subcultures bringto the educational systems that further influences the teaching-learning pro-cess in schools as well as at the university.

    An analysis of research into cultural dimensions that could be im-portant in influencing teacher training programs revealed that the work

  • 168 HARKIRAT S. DHINDSA AND BARRY J. FRASER

    of Moos (1979) and Hofstede (1984) are worth considering. Hofstede(1984) identified masculinity/femininity, individualism/collectivism, un-certainty/avoidance, and power/distance, whereas Moos (1979) identifiedrelationship, personal development, and system maintenance as the mostimportant dimensions of culture. Schwartz (1992, 1994) reported that indi-vidualism and collectivism could furnish valid explanations about culturaldifferences in values in a society. According to Fisher and Waldrip (1997),gender equity, collaboration, competition, deference, congruence, mod-elling, communication and teacher authority are the culturally-sensitivefactors that cover the dimensions proposed by Moos (1979) and Hofst-ede (1984). Moreover, some useful information about these factors in aclassroom setting can be obtained and easily analysed to evaluate the ex-tent to which these factors are present in the community. Furthermore, thisinformation is important when making appropriate adjustments to the ex-isting cultural sensitivity in a teacher training programme to optimise itsfunctioning to the expected level.

    The study reported here was concerned with culturally-sensitive fac-tors in the learning environments of teacher trainees enrolled at SultanHassanal Bolkiah Institute of Education, Universiti Brunei Darussalam,Brunei. An implication of this research is that, if we can identifythe culturally-sensitive factors of the learning environments of multi-cultural classes, then we have an opportunity to optimise the teacher-training curriculum to train culturally-sensitive teachers. Specifically, ourresearch sought to assess teacher trainees culturally-sensitive learningenvironments.

    2. CHOICE OF INSTRUMENT

    An instrument developed by Fisher and Waldrip (1997) was adopted forthis study. A brief description of the instruments development is describedhere. Fisher and Waldrip (1997) agreed with Kluckhohn (1951, p. 86) onthe definition of culture as the distinctive way of life of a group of people,their complete design for living when developing a new instrument toassess culturally-sensitive factors of the students learning environment.The development of scales included in this instrument, called the CulturalLearning Environment Questionnaire (CLEQ), not only was guided by theanthropology, sociology and management theory and research (Bochner &Hesketh, 1994; Stull & Von Till, 1994), but also by research on learningenvironments and culture factors, especially contributions made by Moos(1979) and Hofstede (1984).

    Moos (1974, 1979) analysed a variety of human environments, includinghospital wards, school classrooms, prisons, military companies, universityresidences and work milieus, to conclude that salient aspects of human

  • CULTURAL LEARNING ENVIRONMENT OF TEACHER TRAINEES 169

    learning environments can be classified into three different dimensions.These dimensions are: relationship dimensions which identify the natureand intensity of personal relationships within the environment and assessthe extent to which people are involved in the environment and support andhelp each other; personal development dimensions which assess personalgrowth and self-enhancement; and system maintenance and system changedimensions which involve the extent to which the environment is orderly,clear in expectations, maintains control, and is responsive to change. Hof-stede (1984) used data from a detailed questionnaire administered to thou-sands of individuals working in multi-national corporations operating in 40countries to identify four dimensions of culture, namely, Power Distance,Uncertainty Avoidance, Individualism, and Masculinity/Femininity. How-ever, Hofstedes research on dimensions of culture in educational settingsplayed a significant role because the CLEQ contains scales whose con-struction was influenced by these dimensions. Fisher and Waldrip (1997)also reported that the development of the original CLEQ was guided by thefollowing criteria:

    1. Consistency with previous learning environments research. All rel-evant scales contained in relevant existing instruments designed forassessing the learning environment were examined for guidance inidentifying suitable scales.

    2. Consistency with the literature of social psychology, organisationalsociology and anthropology.

    3. Consistency with important cultural dimensions in the unique envi-ronment of multicultural organisations identified by Hofstede (1984).

    4. Coverage of Moos general dimensions, with at least one CLEQ scaleassessing each of Moos three dimensions.

    5. Salience to teachers and students. By interviewing teachers and stu-dents, an attempt was made to ensure that the CLEQs scales andindividual items were considered salient by teachers and students.

    6. Economy. The CLEQ was designed to have a relatively small numberof reliable scales, each containing a small number of items.

    The original questionnaire contained the eight scales of Gender Equity,Collaboration, Risk Involvement, Competition, Teacher Authority, Mod-elling, Congruence, and Communication. Fisher and Waldrip (1999) usedseven out of eight scales of the instrument to study cultural factors in thescience classroom learning environment, teacher-student interactions andstudent outcomes for Australian secondary science students. The reasonfor excluding the communication scale in their study was the existence ofinconsistencies between the student data collected using interviews andquestionnaires.

  • 170 HARKIRAT S. DHINDSA AND BARRY J. FRASER

    3. AIMS

    The aims of the research reported here were (a) to determine the reliabilityand validity of the CLEQ when used with trainee teachers in the localcontext of Brunei and (b) to evaluate culturally-sensitive factors in Bruneianteacher trainees learning environments.

    4. RESEARCH METHODS

    The study involved a survey of 475 teacher trainees enrolled in the SultanHassanal Bolkiah Institute of Education at the Universiti Brunei Darus-salam, Brunei. The version of the CLEQ used in this study contained 35items and was slightly modified to make a questionnaire originally designedfor schools suitable for use at the university level. The construct validityand content validity of the instrument were inferred from the reports pub-lished by Fisher and Waldrip (1999). According to Aikenhead and Ryan(1992), it is inappropriate to speak about the validity of an empirically-developed instrument in the framework of content and construct valid-ity, because its validity arises from a qualitative research paradigm. The35-item instrument consists of the seven scales of Gender Equity, Col-laboration, Deference, Competition, Teacher Authority, Modelling, andCongruence.

    A description of the seven CLEQ scales and their classification accord-ing to Mooss learning environment dimensions and Hofstedes culturaldimensions are reported in Table I (adapted from Fisher & Waldrip, 1999).Each scale contains five items that are responded to on a five-point scalewith alternatives ranging from Strongly Disagree to Strongly Agree. Stu-dents are asked to indicate to what extent they agree that each item describestheir current classroom.

    5. RESULTS AND DISCUSSION

    5.1. Validation of the CLEQ

    5.1.1. Chi-Square AnalysisChi-square values for all the items in the instrument using the data col-lected from all the subjects were calculated to examine if the distributionof the responses was different from a random distribution (i.e. equal forall possible choice). The chi-square values obtained were over 104 for allitems and were highly statistically significant (p < 0.001). These resultsconfirm that the respondents responses to the test items were not randomlyselected.

  • CULTURAL LEARNING ENVIRONMENT OF TEACHER TRAINEES 171

    TABL

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  • 172 HARKIRAT S. DHINDSA AND BARRY J. FRASER

    5.2. Factor Analysis

    The second stage in the refinement and validation of the CLEQ involveda series of factor analyses whose purpose was to examine the internalstructure of the set of 35 items. Using SPSS, principal components analysiswith varimax rotation was used to generate orthogonal factors. Because theinstrument was designed with seven scales, a seven-factor solution was firsttried. However, factor loadings for items representing Teacher Authoritydid not group together and, instead, their loadings were scattered overnumerous scales. Elimination of three out of five items representing TeacherAuthority helped in obtaining a seven-factor solution with only two itemsin Teacher Authority. Because there were only two items left in this factor,however, it was decided to exclude this scale. When items representingTeacher Authority were excluded and a six-factor-solution was tried, allthe 30 items grouped into the six factors reported by Fisher and Waldrip(1999).

    Table II shows the factor loadings for the six factors obtained from thisanalysis using the individual student as the unit of analysis. All factorloadings less than 0.3 have been omitted.

    Table II shows that, for each of the 30 items, the factor loading is largerthan 0.3 on the a priori scale and less than 0.3 on all of the other fivescales. The percentage variance extracted and eigenvalue (rotation sum ofsquared loading) associated with each factor also are recorded at the bottomof each scale. The six factors reported in this study accounted for a totalof 53.2% of the variance. The total percentage of variance explained inthis study was comparable to that reported previously: 52.7% for sevenfactors (Fisher & Waldrip, 1999) and 57.8% for eight factors (Fisher &Waldrip, 1997). Moreover, each factor explained comparable amounts ofvariance in the narrow range from 8.8 to 10.0%. However, the percentageof variance explained by different factors varied widely in past studiesreported by Fisher and Waldrip (1997, 1999) when compared with theresults obtained in this study. These differences probably are attributed tocultural differences in the samples.

    The communality values (h2) reported in Table II represent the fraction ofvariance explained by an item when grouped into a factor. The communalitydata were within an acceptable range and vary from 0.34 to 0.69.

    5.3. Reliability

    The internal consistency reliability of each CLEQ scale was evaluatedusing Cronbachs alpha coefficient. Table III shows that, for this sam-ple of students, the alpha coefficient ranged from 0.68 to 0.81 for dif-ferent scales, suggesting that each CLEQ scale has acceptable reliability,

  • CULTURAL LEARNING ENVIRONMENT OF TEACHER TRAINEES 173

    TABLE IIFactor Loading for Items in the 30-item Version of the Personal Form of the CLEQ for theIndividual Students as the Unit of Analysis

    Item Factor loading h2

    Equity Collaboration Competition Deference Modelling Congruence

    1 0.73 0.572 0.73 0.563 0.63 0.474 0.59 0.395 0.57 0.346 0.78 0.627 0.62 0.458 0.69 0.519 0.62 0.4510 0.80 0.6611 0.70 0.5512 0.82 0.6913 0.71 0.5414 0.72 0.5415 0.73 0.5716 0.55 0.4417 0.71 0.5718 0.60 0.4219 0.74 0.5920 0.74 0.5621 0.71 0.5222 0.72 0.5523 0.59 0.4224 0.77 0.6125 0.68 0.4726 0.74 0.5827 0.75 0.5928 0.75 0.5829 0.76 0.6030 0.68 0.51% variance 7.76 9.02 9.90 8.10 8.44 9.90Eigenvalue 2.33 2.71 2.97 2.43 2.53 2.99Cut-off point for factor loadings = 0.3.h2 is the commonality or the proportion of variance explained by an item.

  • 174 HARKIRAT S. DHINDSA AND BARRY J. FRASER

    TABLE IIIInternal Consistency Reliability (Cronbach Alpha Coefficients) and Discriminant Validity(Mean Correlation with Other Scales) for each CLEQ ScaleScale Alpha reliability Mean correlation with other scales

    Equity 0.68 0.08Collaboration 0.77 0.11Competition 0.81 0.10Deference 0.72 0.10Modelling 0.74 0.07Congruence 0.81 0.10

    especially for scales containing only a relatively small number of items.The range of alpha reliability values for the six scales in our study is com-parable to the range of 0.69 to 0.86 reported by Fisher and Waldrip (1997,1999).

    5.4. Discriminant Validity

    The mean correlation of a scale with other scales was used as a convenientmeasure of the discriminant validity or independence of CLEQ scales.The mean correlations of a scale with other scales, reported in Table III,range from 0.07 to 0.11 for different scales. These low values suggestthat raw scores CLEQ scales measure relatively distinct aspects of thelearning environment. Moreover, the factor analysis results attest to theindependence of factor scores on CLEQ scales. This range of correlationcoefficients for the six scales is similar to the ranges from 0.04 to 0.23and from 0.09 to 0.18 reported by Fisher and Waldrip (1997) and Fisherand Waldrip (1999), respectively. The conceptual distinctions among thescales are therefore justified by both the factor analysis and the discriminantvalidity results.

    5.5. Describing Culturally-Sensitive Factors in Teacher TraineesLearning Environments

    Average scores on the six culturally-sensitive factors of teacher traineeslearning environment assessed by the CLEQ are reported in Table IV. Aver-age item means (i.e. the scale means divided by the number of items in thescale) are reported separately for male and female students. It is interestingto note from Table IV that perceptions of males and females are similar onall the six factors. The use of ANOVA revealed no statistically significantgender difference for any scale.

  • CULTURAL LEARNING ENVIRONMENT OF TEACHER TRAINEES 175

    TABLE IVAverage Item Mean, Average Item Standard Deviation, and ANOVA Results for GenderDifference in CLEQ Scale ScoresScales Total sample Males Females Difference

    M SD M SD M SD F

    Equity 4.49 0.52 4.56 0.50 4.46 0.53 3.37Collaboration 4.12 0.61 4.15 0.58 4.11 0.63 0.48Competition 4.15 0.72 4.21 0.59 4.13 0.76 1.67Deference 3.09 0.70 3.13 0.77 3.08 0.68 0.63Modelling 3.34 0.70 3.44 0.69 3.31 0.70 3.15Congruence 3.50 0.73 3.43 0.75 3.53 0.72 1.57Gender differences are statistically nonsignificant for all scales.The sample consisted of 131 males and 341 females. (Three students did not provideinformation on their genders.)

    5.6. Gender Equity

    Table IV shows the average item mean value for each of the six CLEQ scalesranges from 3.09 to 4.49. The largest scale mean (4.49) was obtained forGender Equity, suggesting that students believe that male and female stu-dents were equally treated in their classes. These results are consistent withthe observations of the authors and other academics in Brunei Darussalam.Brunei is a small country where Malay culture and values, and Islamic re-ligion are highly respected. Most of the educated members of this societyhave received their secondary education from coeducational schools. Inschools, male and female students usually occupy separate rows and seats,usually with girls sitting in rows close to the entrance. The university isalso a coeducational institution where the number of female students ex-ceeds the number of male students. Unlike schools, the universitys maleand female students are not assigned separate seats or areas and gendersmix freely. The results obtained in this study for gender equity are consis-tent with the openness in Bruneian society. Moreover, the level of genderequity in the classroom situation at the university level in Brunei is com-parable to that found in some developing and developed countries (Shumba,1999), but is different from reports which indicate that, in some cultures,different genders are treated differently even in classroom settings (Barber,Chadwick & Oerter, 1992).

    5.7. Collaboration and Competition

    The average item mean values greater than 4.0 in Table IV for both Col-laboration and Competition suggest a high level of both competitive and

  • 176 HARKIRAT S. DHINDSA AND BARRY J. FRASER

    collaborative learning occurring in these classes. It is interesting to notethat, despite students involvement in collaborative learning, they still arecompetitive as demonstrated by almost equal means for these two CLEQscales. This situation found in the Bruneian culture is not necessarily in linewith general beliefs that collaboration and competitiveness are inverselyrelated to each other. However, our findings fit well with the claims madeby Thomas (2000, p. 208): Although behaviour features associated withindividualism and collectivism have been identified in the majority of stud-ies, it might be better to explore their occurrence in different contexts andat different times. For instance, it is possible to be collectivist and individ-ualistic at the same time depending on the task and on the social setting.Because the present study was not designed to answer questions aboutwhether high levels of collaboration and competition can co-exist, furtherresearch is needed to replicate the above results and to explain these results.

    5.8. Modelling

    The mean value of 3.34 for Modelling suggests that the teacher trainees atthis level were independent learners and did not depend highly upon theirteachers. These results are in line with observed practices at the univer-sity. Independent learning is encouraged at the university and a majorityof the academic staff are experienced expatriates who are either from ortrained in developed countries. Moreover, local teaching staff members atthe university are also trained in Western countries, especially in the UK andAustralia. Furthermore, when studying in secondary schools, these studentswere also taught by expatriate staff from the developed countries. The teach-ing styles of the staff might have contributed to these results. Moreover, atthe university level, students generally become independent learners.

    5.9. Congruence

    A mean value of 3.50 from the Congruence scale indicates that studentsfelt that learning at the university to some extent was associated with theenvironment at home. In other words, the students could use their culturalknowledge learned at home to make sense of the concepts taught at theuniversity and vice versa. Bruneians are family-oriented people and theextended family system is still practised. On average, there are six mem-bers in a family (Borneo Bulletin, 19981999, 1999). In 1994, there were54,921 students enrolled in schools from pre-school to pre-universityclasses, which was about 20% of the total population. The overall popula-tion growth rate is 3.0% with birth rate about 4.0% (Sharifah-Maimunah,1999). Therefore, the teacher trainees who took part in this study, to someextent, could be involved in educating the young members in their families.

  • CULTURAL LEARNING ENVIRONMENT OF TEACHER TRAINEES 177

    5.10. Deference

    The relatively lower mean of 3.09 for Deference suggests that studentswere reluctant, to some extent, to give their own opinions in their classes.There is no doubt in that the Bruneian community as a whole is improvingon this front at a fast rate, but more work needs to be done to preparestudents to be willing to give their opinions about an issue. The authorsfeel that this is a cultural aspect of this society. Giving a personal opinionthat is not in line with the opinion of others, to some extent, is taken asa criticism. The first author observed that, while teaching a methods ofteaching chemistry course, some of the students found it difficult to accepteven soft feedback on their peer teaching exercises. One might be ableto better appreciate the above comments after reading the following rarecomments from two students:

    Please soften your criticisms, or otherwise some of us will feel disheartened and lose interestin teaching chemistry. However, it is good that you criticised in order for us to improve, butnot too much please.

    One-to-one comments can be helpful.

    According to the second student, private feedback is more valued and ac-ceptable than public feedback.

    Language appears to be another barrier that could hinder students fromexpressing their own views. English is the students second or third lan-guage, despite the fact that classes are conducted in English. The studentsoften fear a loss of identity when they are unable to communicate effec-tively (Beebe, 1983). It has been reported in the literature that the univer-sity students risk-taking behaviour (Ely, 1986) and sensitivity to rejection(Naiman, Frohlich, Stren & Todesco, 1978) are positive predictors of stu-dents voluntary classroom participation.

    6. SUMMARY, CONCLUSIONS AND IMPLICATIONS

    This article has described the cross-validation of the Cultural Learn-ing Environment Questionnaire (CLEQ) which assesses six scales ofthe culturally-sensitive learning environments among teacher trainees inBrunei. Our study also attempted to identify teacher trainees culturally-sensitive factors that might affect their learning and teaching practices infuture.

    Based on a sample of 475 teacher trainees, factor analysis generallysupported the factorial validity of the CLEQ. Internal consistency relia-bility was satisfactory, with Crobach alpha coefficients ranging from 0.68to 0.71 for different scales. The discriminant validity was also satisfactory

  • 178 HARKIRAT S. DHINDSA AND BARRY J. FRASER

    for each scale, with the mean correlation of a scale with the other scalesranging from 0.07 to 0.11 for the different CLEQ scales. Overall this studysupports the validity, reliability and usefulness of the CLEQ for evaluatingculturally-sensitive factors of Bruneian teacher trainees learning environ-ments (except teacher authority).

    No gender differences were found in CLEQ scores, suggesting that stu-dents believed that males and females were treated equally in their classes.The students perceived that they are independent learners, but the data alsoshow that they often are reluctant to give their personal opinions in theirclasses. The data revealed an unusual finding in that students were equallycooperative and competitive. Further research to explain this finding isrecommended.

    A major implication of this research is that, if we can identify the di-mensions of culturally-sensitive learning environments of teacher trainees,then we have an opportunity to make adjustments to the curriculum andteaching methods for teacher trainees to improve the alignment with thesecultural dimensions. Moreover, teacher trainees will be able to use thisawareness to shape their teaching to their future school students culturallearning environments. It must not be assumed that the teachers should onlyuse the learning strategies discussed during training but, rather, teachersshould be able to make adjustments to existing strategies or develop newteaching learning strategies to optimise learning for a given set of studentsfrom different learning environments.

    University and school teachers can utilise this information to matchbetter the teaching strategies that they select for a class with the knowncultural expectations of their students. In practice, this would mean thatthe teachers and managers involved in the teaching-learning process couldselect a balanced set of strategies and instructional approaches appropriateto the profile of the students.

    This research generally adds to the rapidly-expanding and distinctivecontributions made to the field of learning environments by Asian re-searchers (Fraser, 2002, 2003; Goh & Khine, 2002). It also adds anotherstudy to the relatively small number of learning environment studies con-ducted specifically in Brunei Darussalam (Khine & Fisher, 2002; Majeed,Fraser & Aldridge, 2002; Riah & Fraser, 1998; Scott & Fisher, 2001) atthe secondary school level. Our research is distinctive, however, in that itrepresents the first study in Brunei at the university level and the first useof the Cultural Learning Environment Questionnaire in this country.

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    HARKIRAT S. DHINDSADepartment of Science andMathematics EducationSultan Hassanal BolkiahInstitute of EducationUniversiti Brunei DarussalamJalan Tungku LinkGadong BE1410Negara Brunei Darussalam, BruneiE-mail: hdhindsa@shbie.ubd.edu.bn

    BARRY J. FRASERScience and Mathematics Education Centre

    Curtin University of TechnologyGPO Box U1987, PerthWestern Australia 6845

    AustraliaE-mail: b.fraser@curtin.edu.au

    (Correspondence to: Harkirat S. Dhindsa. E-mail: hdhindsa@shbie. ubd.edu.bn)

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