Cultural dimensions of learning: Addressing the challenges of multicultural instruction


  • Patrick Parrish The COMET Program
  • Jennifer Linder-VanBerschot University of Colorado-Denver



distance education, online learning, pedagogy, multicultural education


The growing multicultural nature of education and training environments makes it critical that instructors and instructional designers, especially those working in online learning environments, develop skills to deliver culturally sensitive and culturally adaptive instruction. This article explores research into cultural differences to identify those dimensions of culture that are most likely to impact instructional situations. It presents these in the cultural dimensions of learning framework (CDLF), which describes a set of eight cultural parameters regarding social relationships, epistemological beliefs, and temporal perceptions, and illustrates their spectrums of variability as they might be exhibited in instructional situations. The article also explores the literature on instructional design and culture for guidelines on addressing the cross-cultural challenges faced by instructional providers. It suggests that these challenges can be overcome through increased awareness, culturally sensitive communication, modified instructional design processes, and efforts to accommodate the most critical cultural differences. Finally, it describes the use of the CDLF questionnaire as a tool to illuminate the range of preferences existing among learners and to discover the potential range of strategies and tactics that might be useful for a given set of learners.

Author Biographies

Patrick Parrish, The COMET Program

Patrick Parrish, PhD., is Senior Project Manager/International Projects Manager with The COMET Program, producing online education and training in meteorology and the geosciences.

Jennifer Linder-VanBerschot, University of Colorado-Denver

Jennifer A. Linder-VanBerschot is adjunct faculty at the University of Colorado-Denver, as well as a Senior Learning and Development Specialist. Previous to this work, she was a high school Spanish teacher. Dr. Linder-VanBerschot’s research interests include online education, culture and language in online environments, mentoring and instructional design.



How to Cite

Parrish, P., & Linder-VanBerschot, J. (2010). Cultural dimensions of learning: Addressing the challenges of multicultural instruction. The International Review of Research in Open and Distributed Learning, 11(2), 1–19.



Research Articles