Title

The Transfer of Cultural Assumptions About American Higher Education in a Global Society: Perceptions of Visiting Russian Scholars

Date of Award

2005

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)

Department

Higher Education Administration

First Advisor

C. Strange

Abstract

This study examined the transfer of ideas about higher education gleaned from Russian administrators and faculty members, who returned to home institutions in the former Soviet Union following an exchange visit to the United States to gain insight into the workings of our complex higher education model. At the core of this assessment were these Russian educators’ perceptions of institutional output and process goals attributed to the U.S. institutions that hosted them, and their comparative experiences and expectations in the Russian system. The instrument used in this study is an adaptation of the Institutional Goals Inventory (IGI), a 95-item, Likert-type measure (Peterson, 1970) that assesses the importance attributed to 13 institutional output and 9 institutional process goals. For purposes of this study each goal was evaluated by respondents, as they perceived its associated items to reflect what they observed in the U.S., what they experience in their home institutions, and what they idealize for institutional aspiration in the Russian system. Data were gathered on-line through a Web-based survey, offered both in English and Russian, with minor modifications for clearer cross-cultural understanding. Through a combination of program participant lists, electronic networks, and direct solicitation, this method yielded a usable sample of 70 respondents, all of whom were individuals with careers in various disciplines from colleges and universities in the former Soviet Union. Most impressive to these Russian scholars were the U.S. emphases on the Research, Advanced Training, and Meeting Local Needs output goals. Equally impressive were their perceived emphases on the Community, Democratic Governance, and Intellectual/Aesthetic Environment process goals. In similar fashion these scholars attributed the greatest emphases in their own institutions to the output goals of Research, Social Egalitarianism, and Academic Development, as well as the Accountability, Miscellaneous, and Intellectual/Aesthetic Environment process goals. In addition to a range of significant U.S.-Russia discrepancies, these respondents idealized greater emphases for their own institutions on Research, Intellectual Orientation, Advanced Training, Community, Democratic Governance, and Intellectual/Aesthetic Environment. Conclusions were drawn and implications considered for the implementation of future scholar exchange programs and the conduct of additional research to evaluate their impact.