Challenge me! Communicating in multicultural classrooms

Ulrich Kühnen*, Marieke C. van Egmond, Frank Haber, Stefanie Kuschel, Amina Özelsel, Alexis L. Rossi, Youlia Spivak

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

18 Citations (Scopus)


The current study investigated the value of Socratic classroom communication (e. g., critical debate and challenging each other on content matters) among students from various cultures (clustered into Western Europeans, Eastern Europeans and Non-Europeans) and from members of faculty at an international university in Germany. Students from Western cultures where Socratic communication had been valued in the school systems reported a greater ease of engaging in the respective communication style than did Eastern European and Non-European students. Furthermore, we assessed how strongly the faculty valued the respective kinds of behavior. The results show that overall students underestimated the extent to which Socratic communication behavior was esteemed by members of faculty. In addition, faculty members perceived themselves to be more explicit about their pedagogical principles than they were perceived by students. Finally, the easier it was for students to show Socratic classroom communication, the more academically satisfied they were and the better their grades. The results are discussed with regard to practical implications and the internationalization of universities.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)59-76
Number of pages18
JournalSocial Psychology of Education
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2012
Externally publishedYes


  • Classroom interaction
  • Culture
  • Learning beliefs
  • Pedagogical styles
  • Socratic versus confucian tradition


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