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University of Oklahoma

[COMM 5253] Cross-Cultural Communication - 101

Elaine Hsieh

Course Description

Cross-Cultural Communication: Theory and Research

Studies communication variables as they function in varied cultures and subcultures; includes an examination of nonverbal as well as verbal coding systems. Consider problems, barriers, and patterns of communication that occur across cultural boundaries. Three general objectives govern this course: (a) to increase awareness of one’s strengths and weaknesses when functioning in a cross-cultural setting, (b) to study the reciprocal relationship of communication and culture, and (c) to examine the problems of communication research in a cross-cultural context and to develop guidelines to help overcome these obstacles. The specific communicative contexts and settings that will be covered in this class include: conflicts, business, health and illness, identity management, interpersonal communication, language perspectives, and nonverbal communication.

Class Dates, Format, Location and Hours

DatesMay 16-22, 2022
FormatVirtual. Class on Zoom and Canvas
Location for on-site coursesHurlburt Field, Florida. Class will be held in Bldg. 90220, 221 Lukasik Ave.
HoursMonday - Friday 6:00 p.m.-9:30 p.m.; Saturday 8:00 a.m.-4:30 p.m.; Sunday 8:00 a.m.-12:00 p.m.
Last day to enroll or drop without penaltyApril 17, 2022

Site Director

NameKristen Dennis

Professor Contact Information

Course ProfessorElaine Hsieh, Ph.D., J.D.
Mailing AddressUniversity of Oklahoma, Department of Communication, Burton Hall, Rm. 101Norman, OK 73019
Telephone Number405-325-3154
Fax Number405-325-7625
Professor availabilityThe professor will be available via e-mail to students before and after the class sessions. On-site office hours are half an hour before and after each class session, by appointment.

Textbook(s) and Instructional Materials

Student materials are available at the OU Bookstore Website at The website has book selling, renting, buying, returning, and order tracking capabilities. If you need help with an order, or if you have any questions contact the toll-free phone at 1-(855)-790-6637, agents are available from 9a – 5p (EST) Monday – Friday. Text prices are available online.


Materials posted on the OU Canvas system: Access Canvas at; enter your OU NetID (4+4) and password, and select course to access the material. Please contact your local Site Director if you require assistance.

  • Detailed Syllabus and reading schedules.
  • PowerPoint Slides for the course lectures (please check the PowerPoint slides 3 days before the course dates).
The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down : A Hmong Child, Her American Doctors, and the Collision of Two Cultures
The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down : A Hmong Child, Her American Doctors, and the Collision of Two Cultures
by Fadiman, Anne
Published by Farrar, Straus & Giroux
ISBN: 9780374533403
Cross-Cultural and Intercultural Communication
Cross-Cultural and Intercultural Communication
by William Gudykunst
Published by Sage Pubns
ISBN: 9780761929000
Rethinking Culture in Health Communication: Social Interactions as Intercultural Encounters
Rethinking Culture in Health Communication: Social Interactions as Intercultural Encounters
by Elaine Hsieh, Eric M. Kramer
Published by Wiley
ISBN: 9781119496168

Course Objectives

After taking this course, the student should be able to identify and apply concepts of intercultural communication to various contexts (e.g., conflicts, business, health care, identity management). Additionally, the student should come away with new insights about cross-culturally shared behaviors.


Course Outline

The course will consist of lectures and discussions of the texts and other materials provided by the professor, the presentation and group analysis of case studies by the class, and a written examination. The following overview identifies the major topics to be addressed:

  • Course orientation and introduction to communication study.
  • Approaches to the study of cross-cultural communication.
  • Worldview, philosophical diversity, and communication behaviors.
  • Value analysis and intercultural studies.
  • Social change strategies and tactics.
  • Cross-cultural communication in applied settings.
  • Methodological problems in cross-cultural studies.

Assignments, Grading and Due Dates

After reading the assigned materials (including the required readings and journal articles posted at D2L), and prior to the seminar, each student should prepare one case study of intercultural conflict/miscommunication/relations. The case study should carefully delineate the problem areas. The analysis should draw upon the reading and any other materials and experiences. The case study should be written up in 4-6 pages in text (typed, double space, Times New Roman 12 font, 1-inch margin, APA style). The emphasis of the case study should be upon personal experience rather than an extended discussion that features technical knowledge. In other words, the case study should highlight your reflection and critical analysis of the intercultural interaction based on the insights you gained through the reading rather than a review or a summary of the readings. The assignment is both an intellectual exercise and a diagnostic tool for the professor – diagnostic in the sense of the areas of emphasis for the lecture content. I prefer the case study to be turned in on the first day of class, but I will accept it (based on when the student is enrolled and other pertinent factors) up to the last day of class.


For the reflection essay, you should read Fadiman (1998). The essay should be written up in 4-6 pages in text (typed, double space, Times New Roman 12 font, 1-inch margin, APA style). You should apply the theoretical concepts you have come across in the readings to critically analyze the intercultural interactions presented in the reading. The objective of the paper is to demonstrate that you can provide a critical analysis of a given situation discussed in the book. You can explore the causes for conflicts, discuss the perspectives from different cultures/individuals/values, or explore possible solutions for these intercultural conflicts. I prefer the reflection essay to be turned in on the first day of class, but I will accept it (based on when the student is enrolled and other pertinent factors) up to the last day of class.



Grading: This is a letter-graded course: A, B, C, D, or F.  A= 100-90; B= 89-80; C= 79-70; D=69-60; F= below 60



Due Date

Percent of Grade

Case Study

See above instructions


Reflection Essay

See above instructions


Final Examination

Last class session





Attendance Policy

Due to the intense nature of the one-week seminar, you will receive a failing grade if you miss more than 3 hours of the onsite class, including late attendance. (Exceptions to this rule will be reviewed on a case-by-case basis.)



Policy on Late Assignments

Notice: Failure to meet assignment due dates could result in a grade of I (Incomplete) and may adversely impact Tuition Assistance and/or Financial Aid.


Attendance/Grade Policy

Attendance and participation in interaction, individual assignments, group exercises, simulations, role playing, etc. are valuable aspects of any course because much of the learning comes from discussions in class with other students. It is expected that you attend all classes and be on time except for excused emergencies.

Excused absences are given for professor mandated activities or legally required activities such as emergencies or military assignments. It is the policy of the University to excuse absences of students that result from religious observances and to provide without penalty for the rescheduling of examinations and additional required class work that may fall on religious holidays. Unavoidable personal emergencies, including (but not limited to) serious illness; delays in getting to class because of accidents, etc.; deaths and funerals, and hazardous road conditions will be excused.

If you are obtaining financial assistance (TA, STAP, FA, VA, Scholarship, etc.) to pay all or part of your tuition cost, you must follow your funding agency/institution’s policy regarding “I” (Incomplete) grades unless the timeline is longer than what the University policy allows then you must adhere to the University policy. Students who receive Financial Aid must resolve/complete any “I” (Incomplete) grades by the end of the term or he/she may be placed on “financial aid probation.” If the “I” grade is not resolved/completed by the end of the following term, the student’s Financial Aid may be suspended make the student ineligible for further Financial Aid.

Students are responsible for meeting the guidelines of Tuition Assistance and Veterans Assistance. See the education counselor at your local education center for a complete description of your TA or VA requirements.

OU faculty will submit grades online through ONE not later than 30 days after the course end date. Course end dates are approximately one calendar month after the final seminar date on this syllabus and are provided on the official scheduling website for reference.

Academic Integrity and Student Conduct 

Academic integrity means honesty and responsibility in scholarship. Academic assignments exist to help students learn; grades exist to show how fully this goal is attained. Therefore all work and all grades should result from the student's own understanding and effort.

Academic misconduct is any act which improperly affects the evaluation of a student’s academic performance or achievement. Misconduct occurs when the student either knows or reasonably should know that the act constitutes misconduct. Academic misconduct includes: cheating and using unauthorized materials on examinations and other assignments; improper collaboration, submitting the same assignment for different classes (self-plagiarism); fabrication, forgery, alteration of documents, lying, etc…in order to obtain an academic advantage; assisting others in academic misconduct; attempting to commit academic misconduct; destruction of property, hacking, etc…; intimidation and interference with integrity process; and plagiarism. All students should review the Student’s Guide to Academic Integrity at 

Students and faculty each have responsibility for maintaining an appropriate learning environment. All students should review policies regarding student conduct at 

Accommodation Statement

The University of Oklahoma is committed to making its activities as accessible as possible. For accommodations on the basis of disability, please contact your local OU Site Director.

Adjustment for Pregnancy/Childbirth-Related Issues

Should you need modifications or adjustments to your course requirements because of documented pregnancy-related or childbirth-related issues, please contact the professor as soon as possible to discuss. Generally, modifications will be made where medically necessary and similar in scope to accommodations based on temporary disability. Please see

Title IX Resources

For any concerns regarding gender-based discrimination, sexual harassment, sexual misconduct, stalking, or intimate partner violence, the University offers a variety of resources, including advocates on-call 24/7, counseling services, mutual no-contact orders, scheduling adjustments, and disciplinary sanctions against the perpetrator. Please contact the Sexual Misconduct Office at or (405) 325-2215 (8-5), or the Sexual Assault Response Team at (405) 615 -0013 (24/7) to report an incident. To learn more about Title IX, please visit the Institutional Equity Office’s website at 

Course Policies

Extended Campus (also and formerly known as Advanced Programs) policy is to order books in paperback if available. Courses, dates, and professors are subject to change. Please check with your OU Site Director. Students should retain a copy of any assignments that are e/mailed to the professor for the course. Neither duplicating services nor office supplies are provided.

Any and all course materials, syllabus, lessons, lectures, etc. are the property of professor teaching the course and the Board of Regents of the University of Oklahoma and are protected under applicable copyright.

For more information about OU Extended Campus, visit our website at:

Statement on Respect

The classroom should provide a safe learning environment where students can express their views without fear of reprisal. That freedom of expression must be balanced by demonstrated respect for other’s viewpoints and appropriate and reasonable sensitivity, especially within the context of scholarly disagreement.  Disrespectful or uncivil dialogue (including, but not limited to, personal attacks, insults, or harassment) will not be tolerated.

Recording Devices/Phones/Computers

It is important for students to be fully present during class to fully benefit from lectures, discussions, and experiential assignments. Class sessions may not be tape-recorded. All telephones and pagers should be turned off or placed on silent mode. Computers may not be used during class. Students who require an exception to this policy should discuss exceptional circumstances with the professor.


Elaine Hsieh, Ph.D., J.D.


2004 Ph.D. in Speech Communication, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

2019 J.D., College of Law, University of Oklahoma


CURRENT POSITIONS                                                                                                                   

Advanced Programs professor since 2005

Professor, Department of Communication, University of Oklahoma

Visiting Professor, Department of Communication, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign


FREQUENTLY TAUGHT ADVANCED PROGRAMS COURSES                                                  

Qualitative Research Methods

Cross-Cultural Communication

Language Perspectives of Communication


MAJOR AREAS OF TEACHING AND RESEARCH INTEREST                                                   

Language and Social Interactions; Interpersonal Communication; Health Communication; 

Intercultural Communication; Language Perspectives


REPRESENTATIVE PUBLICATIONS                                                                                            

Hsieh, E., & Kramer, E. M. (2021). Rethinking culture in health communication: Social interactions as intercultural encounters. Wiley.

Hsieh, E. (2016). Bilingual health communication: Working with interpreters in cross-cultural care. New York, NY: Routledge.

Hsieh, E. (2016). Voices of the homeless: An emic approach to homeless people’s experiences of health disparities. Social Work in Public Health, 31, 328-340.

Hsieh, E., Bruscella, J. S., Zanin, A., Kramer, E. M. (2016). “It’s not like you need to live 10 or 20 years”: Challenges to patient-centered care in gynecologic oncologist-patient interactions. Qualitative Health Research, 26, 1191-1202

Hsieh, E. (2015). Not just “getting by”: Factors influencing providers’ choice of interpreters. Journal of General Internal Medicine, 30, 75-82.


MAJOR PROFESSIONAL AFFILIATIONS                                                                                    

National Communication Association; International Communication Association





Distinguished Book Award, Health Communication, National Communication Association


Quality of Care for Interpreter-Mediated Medical Encounters in Taiwan. Core Fulbright U.S. Scholar; Arts, Education, Humanities, Professional Fields and Social Sciences-- Research (Award #5130), Taiwan. Sponsored by the United States Department of State Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs. 07/24/2015-01/15/2016; Approx.$30,000.


Medical Interpreters and Patient Communicative Competence in Gynecologic Oncology. Sponsored by University of Oklahoma-Health Sciences Center/Oklahoma Tobacco Settlement Endowment Trust. Role: Principal Investigator. Period: 01/01/2012-06/30/2012. $60,335.