G. Hofstede’s ethnometric criteria in the context of educational communication

The socio-cultural peculiarities define specificity of communication in the “teacher-student” system in many ways. By using the G.

Hofstede’s theory, we consider all the cultural components and determine their influence on the educational interactions. In

terms of the dichotomy of criterion “low/high power distance” in the educational space, cultures can be divided into the teacher-

centered and the learner-centered one. In cultures with low power distance (US, UK, Canada, Australia, Central Europe, etc.), the

central figure of education process is a student and a teacher is an accompanying figure. Teacher does not broadcast knowledge,

but he helps the student to find the necessary information and conclude independently. However, in the countries with high

power distance (China, Japan, etc.) the central figure of education process is a teacher who transmits information that is an

undeniable and definitely highly regarded. Thereby the higher power distance the greater teacher’s status and, correspondingly,

the less number of discussions with him can be. In countries with a very high power distance teacher guides every student’s step,

however while the distance is reducing the initiative goes to the student.


In terms of the dichotomy of the criteria of “individualism/collectivism” the education purpose in countries with a high

individualism index (United States, Canada, Australia, UK, etc.) (Asmolov, 2006) is to teach the students “how to learn” and then

to obtain the necessary knowledge independently. Thereby it prepares students to an “education through life” in a constantly

changing world where information becomes outdated quickly. In individualistic cultural context the students are taught to rely

only on themselves and their own strength. The emphasis on the student’s individual achievements in an academic environment

leads to some difficulties in the group and collective interactions between students in the classes thereby teachers devote more

attention to project activities and develop students’ team-work skills. Also in individualist cultures tutors pose unusual tasks and

creative approaches to their solving. However, in countries with a high collectivism index (China, Japan, Arab countries, etc.)

education process is emphasized on the memorizing and storing large amounts of information. Also in collectivist cultures the

theoretical knowledge often is not maintained by practical experience. Thus, students in these countries have a lack of practical

experience and cannot apply their theoretical knowledge.


From the standpoint of cultural criterion “femininity/masculinity” we conclude that feminine cultures, such as Sweden, are

focused primarily on the creating of the psychologically comfortable conditions in the educational environment and students’

social adaptation. In masculine cultures, such as the United States, the education process is accompanied by a high competition

among the students where academic achievements are the important trappings (portfolios, winnings in competitions, etc.). Thus,

in the masculine societies competitions and academic results are encouraged in the educational environment, but in the feminine

ones the student’s behavior is often awarded.


In terms of the “uncertainty avoidance” criterion low uncertainty avoidance index means that education process is often

conducted by non-standard programs, which provide a high level of variability and fuzzy evaluation criteria. However, in cultures

with high uncertainty avoidance index the education process is conducted by a strict schedule and instructions according to the

educational and methodical regulations. In such countries the teachers identify the task, ways of its solving, deadlines and

evaluation criteria as clearly as possible for students. Also in cultures with high uncertainty avoidance students are more likely to

pursue higher education because of a sense of duty to parents and the society, and not because of personal desire.


See more: G. Hofstede Psycological Model

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