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ASU communication professor earns Fulbright award

September 02, 2015
portrait of ASU communication professor Robert Shutter

Robert Shuter, research professor in the Hugh Downs School of Human Communication, has been granted a Fulbright Specialist Award to share his expertise at the Hong Kong Baptist University School of Communication this October.

An internationally renowned scholar in the area of intercultural communication, Shuter will share his newest research and teaching specialty, intercultural new media studies – a discipline he led the development of in 2010.

“This Fulbright is not only a great honor, but it is also an wonderful opportunity for me as an intercultural communication researcher to introduce one of the leading communication schools in Asia to this exciting new area of study,” Shuter said. “As a consultant in the School of Communication, I will conduct various workshops and lectures for students, faculty and administrators on ways they can integrate intercultural new media studies into their curriculum and research agenda.”

In 2011, Shuter launched the independent Center for Intercultural New Media Research, which now boasts 308 research associates in 46 countries representing more than 200 universities. During his time at Hong Kong Baptist, he will explore establishing the center’s East Asian branch at the School of Communication.

New study looks at students' digital behavior in university classes

Shuter, whose early research into digital behavior looked at international text message etiquette, will present his latest competitively selected study on a juried panel at the annual conference of the National Communication Association in November. 

The paper, “The Influence of Cultural Values on U.S. and Danish Students' Digital Behavior in University Classes,” which Shuter co-wrote with Pauline Cheong, associate professor of communication technologies and culture, and doctoral student Yashu Chen of ASU’s Hugh Downs School of Human Communication, addresses whether university students think that smartphones and laptops used in class are a distraction to learning, attention and participation, and whether they want these devices managed in class.

In a survey of American and Danish students, Shuter and his co-investigators discovered that U.S. students use smartphones significantly more in class than do Danish students, but Danish students use their laptops in class significantly more than do U.S. students.

Both U.S. and Danish students do not believe that their use of smartphones and laptops in class negatively affects their learning, attention and participation. However, U.S. students are more inclined to want their instructors to set rules for using smartphones and laptops in class and include it on the syllabus.

“The findings here are paradoxical,” Shuter said. “That students don’t view the use of smartphones and laptops in class as a distraction appears to be at odds with university professors who, in past research, have found these devices problematic, especially with regard to attention, learning and participation.

“Interestingly, American students’ desire to have instructors set rules for use in class is consistent with the American need for authority and hierarchy in class,” Shuter added. “Danish students’ desire to have no rules is consistent with Danish need for equality in class even between professors and students.”