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Culture and cognition in information technology education

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This paper aims at explaining the outcomes of information technology education for international students using anthropological theories of cultural schemas. Even though computer science and engineering are usually assumed to be culture-independent, the practice in classrooms seems to indicate that learning patterns depend on culture. The situation in a college in Finland is evaluated based on study records, surveys on learning experiences, learning logs by students and classroom observations. Reasons for the educational outcome are discussed theoretically using cultural anthropology and the socio-cultural theory of learning. The universality of Western scientific thinking is questioned, and a need to recognise different cultural schemas in the thinking of international students is acknowledged. The study concludes that a view of human cognition as social and embodied gives new insights to information technology education when there is a great diversity of student backgrounds and their culturally produced mental schemas.

Keywords: Cognitive practices; Cultural schemas; Information technology education; International students; Scientific thinking; Shared cognition

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: EVTEK University of Applied Sciences, Espoo, Finland

Publication date: March 1, 2007

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