Classic research that is still useful - with precautions!
This interactive online tool that allows users to explore cultural values in country comparisons based on Geert Hofstede's classic research works well for both COIL/virtual international education and preparation for study abroad. However, instructors really need to take care not to create or reinforce cultural stereotypes by dealing only with these aggregate means. It is so important to treat the research on this website as a starting point for discussion of within group variation and getting to know individuals in other cultures. For COIL, for example, you might assign students to explore a country comparison with the groups involved in the course/project and then to discuss among themselves questions such as: what did you think about the way your country was represented - does it apply well to you personally? did anyone have the experience of not being represented (your country is not listed)? in what contexts do you think this research leads to accurate expectations, and when would it be misleading for anyone relying on this information about your national culture? are their subgroups in your country that are strikingly different from these overall trends? based only on the website, what conflicts might be predicted among students in this COIL experience? now that you have more nuanced understandings of each other as individuals, do you think those predictions will hold true? what can you do as a group to manage conflicts and misunderstandings now that you have this information?