Silence and Personal Space Coming Together

Stefani Kraker and Prof. Kim

Over the past 10 months, I have had the wonderful opportunity to work with Professor Kim of Pace’s Education Department and TESOL program. In our time collaborating together on a series of papers regarding cultural diversity in the classroom, I feel that I have improved as a writer and as a team player. Professor Kim is a generous mentor who is encouraging and always inspiring me to do and become a better researcher and writer.

At this stage in our research, Professor Kim and I are continuing to edit and revise our two prepared papers for publication. Although this is a slow moving process, we are hopeful to have both completed by the end of April. As we read through and improve word use and clarity, the writing process is illuminated once again and I am able to learn further. Making the writing more accessible requires a deeper understanding of the material, and I am absorbing more and more each time we run through the paper.

In our research, we have discovered that certain cultures appreciate silence and may view it as a form of communication or comfortableness with other individuals. The rationales may differ for these feelings, however, the percentages of individuals who were comfortable, uncomfortable, or their opinion was dependent on other factors

As they stand, the first of our papers is about ready for the second stage of review before publication. The second of our papers is near completion and submission for the first stage of review. Our intention is to complete at least one more paper in this series and have an array of writing covering different aspects of nonverbal communication and how these are interpreted differently based on culture.

I found this project to be extremely interesting because of my interest in cultural differences and the impact they can have in the school setting. I feel that I have learned a lot about diverse backgrounds and upbringings, and am more appreciative of the distinctions between people. Conclusions were also drawn based on similarities, because despite cultural divides, people have many traits in common.

I have had an exceptional experience with Professor Kim, and we hope to continue our collaborative work over the summer.

Cultural Impact on Space and Silence as Nonverbal Communication

This semester, Professor Kim and I are working to complete the two research papers we have been working on collaboratively for the past 7 months. While previously our work consisted of gathering information and presenting it clearly to the reader, we are now doing fine-tuning to prepare these papers for potential publishing.

Our first paper, regarding cultural preferences for personal space, is being altered to the requests of our reviewers. By utilizing surveys and research, the paper depicts and explains the cultural similarities and differences regarding appropriate personal space. We concluded that ultimately, though culture may impact how close individuals stand to one another, the surveyed individuals expressed similar concerns when determining their proximity to others. Though the paper was already presented at a conference for teachers in multicultural situations, we are working with the suggestions of our reviewers for the second stage of review. The process of trying to have a fresh perspective when reviewing a writing piece from months earlier is more difficult than I expected. While in one respect it is encouraging to have similar conclusions now as during the first round of writing, it is also frustrating to not be able to produce new findings. Herein, I have found, lies the benefit of collaborative work. Professor Kim is excellent at asking probing questions which allow you to reflect on the information at hand in a new way. By engaging in conversations and bouncing ideas back and forth, progress is made easier and is usually more productive. Within the next two weeks, this paper should be ready for 2nd review  to our chosen publication.

We are also working to complete our second paper, regarding silence as a means of nonverbal communication in different cultures, in these same two weeks to get ready for initial review. Our research and survey outcomes are indicating that despite culture, individuals are evenly divided regarding their feelings toward silence, whether it is comfortable, uncomfortable, or dependent on the other individuals in the conversation. Rationales, or the reasons why individuals feel one way or another, do generally permeate cultural divides. Our intention is to complete our findings and implications section in a cohesive and clear way. My current project is compiling our conclusions from our various sources and survey responses. This will allow patterns and themes within these findings to become more apparent, and simplify the writing process. Following this section, we have our conclusion and then minor editing to the entire piece overall.

I am very grateful for this experience, because through this process I feel that I have improved as a writer, researcher, and team player. I have a much clearer understanding of the writing process and what it takes to become published, and can’t wait to face these challenges as I continue my Undergraduate education. My post-undergraduate goals include getting my Master’s degree in Speech and Language Pathology, and working in a school setting with children requiring services. I hope to be able to have a bilingual focus because of this project, and be an advocate for multicultural students.

Culture Differences Regarding Silence

Professor Kim and I have made significant process in developing our study on silence across cultures. This paper is connected to one which Professor Kim and I also wrote with some of her graduate students this summer regarding personal space across cultures. We are hoping to create a series of 3 or 4 such papers, detailing differences seen between cultures and how they can impact classroom management and student progress.  Not only have we nearly completed our literature review section, which works to prepare the authors to draw conclusions from given information, but most currently, we have begun to organize our survey data.

I am very excited about this because I have never been through this process before. I am really enjoying taking the raw data, arranging it for our purposes, and appreciating the conclusions they draw. Professor Kim has been monumental in helping me to understand the ethical processes of obtaining one’s own data, and the importance of correct procedure and protecting the identities of those surveyed.  Collecting data firsthand is an opportunity I have never had before, and am enjoying immensely!

As of now, though we are still in the initial stages of reviewing the surveys obtained from international and domestic students, it looks as if our data is primarily in agreement with our literature review, which is encouraging. Now, we will have to look where differences occur and determine if they are substantial enough to draw conclusions from.

As of now, the data collected has not raised any questions for me, because Prof. Kim and I are still in our first round of probing the survey records. However, I am sure that as we go on, we will naturally find inconsistencies and outliers, making it an interesting process.

Silence as a Means of Nonverbal Communication

Stefani Kraker
Prof. Soonhyang Kim

I am so excited to benefit from Professor Soonhyang Kim’s advisement again this semester as we explore silence as a nonverbal means of communication, looking particularly at ESL classrooms. The purpose of the project is to look at the different understandings and intentions of silence, and how this varies among different cultures. This will allow for useful applications of the information in classrooms and schools, and act as a resource for individuals working with multicultural or bilingual students.

I have already learned so much from my first month of working on this paper with Professor Kim. Not only am I being educated on the topic we are researching, the experience of balancing this project with my other schoolwork in my Junior year is enlightening. I am learning so much about the paper writing process, and the protocols needed to put forth accurate and ethical work. It is such a thrilling experience to learn this material in a practical way, which will help me later on in my career aspirations.

Professor Kim and I are utilizing peer reviewed sources to obtain information regarding our research topic, including some she herself has published. This will be a long process but I look forward to completing my second collaborative work with Professor Kim.

Cultural Variations Regarding Appropriate Personal Space

I have been extremely fortunate to spend my summer working with Professor Soonhyang Kim of Pace’s Graduate program for Education. Together we have worked to expand on a paper originally written by some of her graduate students. We have successfully revised and lengthened two major sections of the paper, and are currently working on our last two. I have found the entire process to be very educational, not only academically but also personally.

The findings of the paper, as well as the literature review, conclude that differences not only exist between various cultures in regard to personal space, but also between the genders of those cultures. The recognition of these distinctions is crucial in providing a positive learning environment for students of all cultures and genders.

As I started to research the importance of space in different cultures and ethnic groups, I began to wonder what some of the implications are on students when unique opinions regarding personal space are violated. This in particular has become a topic of interest to me, and is something I am learning more about each day, not only through researching on my own, but also the work of Professor Kim’s graduate students.

I feel that this project has helped me grow significantly, both as an academic and as a member of a team. This experience has opened my eyes to the delicate process that is working toward a communal goal. Learning to delegate and repeatedly fine-comb a project to express the thoughts and information found by many researchers is a difficult task. Additionally, having the end result reflect the voices of the individuals, while presenting a cohesive piece, is quite an accomplishment. While I see this as one of the challenges I faced, I also see it as a success.

This project, while at times trying, has only solidified my certainty that I am on the right path. I am more excited than ever to return to Pace University in just a few weeks and continue my studies, with the hope to continue similar research regarding bilingual and multicultural students. It is our intention to get the final paper reviewed by other members of the faculty and submit it for peer review by the end of August/beginning of September. We have also been accepted to present the paper at the NYS TESOL conference in mid-November.

I cannot wait to see what lies ahead for me, and appreciate this opportunity to push forward from Pace University.

Understanding Nonverbal Communication in Bilingual Situations

I feel very fortunate to have the amazing opportunity to conduct my research project with Professor Soonhyang Kim of Pace University’s School of Education. Though it has only been a short while, I have already learned a lot about the process of preparing a paper for publication, as well as practical research tips. These skills are not only useful in the present, but I foresee myself utilizing them in many of my future endeavors.

Professor Kim and I are working together to conduct non-verbal communication research titled “Use of Space and Avoiding Cultural Misunderstanding in the Diverse Classroom”, originally initiated by Professor Kim and some of her graduate students in a teacher education class in Spring 2012 as part of a collaborative research project. We are not only editing, but are also adding information and expanding the scope of the article to make it more comprehensive.

The purpose of this project is to look at the use of non-verbal communications (e.g. space, silence, touch, etc.) in intercultural communication and avoiding misinterpretation in the classroom. In an effort to create a learning environment which is cohesive to comprehension for everyone, such research works to bridge the gaps between students and their peers, as well as students and their instructors. This article could act as a basic guideline for teachers not familiar with teaching multicultural or multilingual students.

This paper investigates a previously unexplored component of teaching individuals of non-English or non-American backgrounds by looking at nonverbal influences; the intention of which is to promote the education of teachers on the needs of bilingual students. The information will be useful to instructors of these classes, and act as a reference for techniques proven to be beneficial.

As a Communication Sciences and Disorders major on a Teaching and Bilingual track, I have very high hopes for this research project. It not only directly applies to my career goals of working with children, but my Bilingual extension as well. Because of the increasing diversity of the United States, many children are entering school with English as their second language, or knowing a second language. I would like to help these children improve their production and comprehension of English, and would be better prepared and more specialized in doing so with bilingualism-related research experience in the field.

Understanding clients is pivotal in providing excellent care. It is necessary for me, as a student and eventual Speech Language Pathologist, to be able to cater instruction to each client. I look forward to the opportunity to be a better resource and asset in my career path. The more information acquired through research, the better prepared clinicians, teachers, and instructors are to render services.

Currently, I am using databases to collect information to include in our research paper. Other evidence incorporated in the paper thus far was conducted through interviews and surveys by Professor Kim and her graduate students. I hope to eventually be able to assemble my own data through observations and surveys or interviews.

I cannot wait to see where my research takes me, and I look forward to an educationally fruitful summer with my wonderful counterpart and advisor, Professor Kim. I cannot express enough my gratification to Dr. Carol Alpern, who connected me with Professor Kim and always provides encouragement, and Pace University for this wonderful opportunity.