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Date of Award


Document Type

Thesis - Pacific Access Restricted

Degree Name

Master of Arts (M.A.)


International Studies

First Advisor

Janet Bennett

First Committee Member

Rudy Guevarra

Second Committee Member

Francisca Trujillo-Dalbey


An interdisciplinary approach to learning styles and teaching styles among Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander students (NHPI) and Western teachers, this thesis suggests specific learning components necessary for academic success for Oceanic learners. This was accomplished by examining academic literature in the fields of anthropology, history, intercultural communication, linguistics, Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL), and Hawaiian studies. The thesis blends the current literature with qualitative research findings from questionnaire results of university students from the Pacific Islands and questionnaire results from Western university faculty. The results of this research provide insight to addressing tactile learning, natural environments, spirit/core wisdom, and awareness of the differences in communication styles for NHPI students in a U.S. university. The results also provide insight on two major themes that inhibit learning: first, that NHPI students face fear and a lack of confidence on a daily basis in the general class environment, and second, that their teachers also have a low regard of the NHPI student because of unmet expectations that are culturally relevant to Western education systems, but that are in direct contrast of Oceanic values. This thesis suggests that both teachers and students often miscommunicate by unknowing conflicting value systems.





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