chapter  4
Learning and Teaching A Cross-Cultural Perspective
Pages 16

Our understanding of the processes of teaching and learning has come a long way in recent years. By combining insights from different disciplines such as psychology, sociology, and linguistics we now have a much clearer picture of the factors that influence learning outcomes (Biggs, 1987; Fraser, Walberg, Welch, & Hattie, 1987; Ramsden, 1988, 1992; Wittrock, 1986). The problem is that we now appreciate that these processes are complex and operate at many different interrelated levels: from that of the individual learner and teacher, the class, the school, the school system, the particular society, the wider cultural level, and the global level (Biggs, 1996). This means that any educational practice must be understood from multiple perspectives, and changes brought about at any one level will probably interact with other factors at the same and other levels. The implication is that educational reform that involves changes to just one factor, teacher training or the mode of assessment say, is unlikely to succeed in improving the quality of education because it may not have taken into consideration the complex, systemic nature of the processes involved. It is the cultural and global levels of this system that are least understood at the moment. The purpose of this paper is to describe recent advances from the cultural perspective.