Interdisciplinary Teaching and Assessment of Intercultural Competence

Co-PIs: Sabine Smith, Dan Paracka, Joe Terantino

Defining Interdisciplinary Intercultural Competence

ITAICIntercultural competence can be defined as “a set of cognitive, affective, and behavioral skills and characteristics that support effective and appropriate interaction in a variety of cultural contexts.” (Bennett, J. M. 2008) As such, intercultural competence is inherently interdisciplinary. Interdisciplinary approaches, like strategies advancing intercultural competence, foster the ability to adopt multiple viewpoints and transcend culture-and discipline-specific ways of knowing. Interdisciplinary and intercultural competence represent complementary notions that reinforce each other to advance engagement in global learning.

Below, Alvino Fantini, former president of the Society for Intercultural Education, Training & Research, endordes Kennesaw State's ITAIC initiative.

Project Goal

The goal of this project, made possible thanks to a $45,000 Kennesaw State Strategic Internationalization Grant, is to Identify, develop, and share best practices for the teaching and assessment of intercultural competence in an interdisciplinary manner for the specific KSU context. The year-long, grant-funded initiative seeks to:

  • Identify, and/or develop appropriate assessment tools of intercultural competence;

  • Pilot and assess such tools in the traditional classroom, online, and in experiential learning activities;

  • Create an archival website for assessment and instructional tools; and

  • Advance the infrastructure for connecting resources and stakeholders on campus and beyond in support of interdisciplinary teaching and the assessment of intercultural competence.

Cohorts of faculty attended two half-day workshops aimed at equipping them to:

  • Become familiar with leading theories and models of intercultural competence;

  • Discuss relevant pedagogies and assessments related to intercultural competence;

  • Develop, pilot, share, and adapt intercultural learning modules for use across disciplines;

  • Review the piloted modules and assessments to determine effectiveness and replicability; and

  • Share assessment data for subsequent analysis and interpretation.

The modules developed are posted here on this website. Faculty are encouraged to use and adapt the information provided for use in their own teaching.

Renowned interculturalists Dr. Darla Deardorff and Dr. Alvino Fantini served as external reviewers of the project.

Expert Multipliers and Departmental Designees facilitated programs disseminating the concepts and products generated by the ITAIC project.
Student in-focus group interviews explored learner perceptions of intercultural competence in the academy.
Project identified 28 dimensions of intercultural competence.
(Bennett, J. M. 2008. Transformative training: Designing programs for culture learning. In Contemporary leadership and intercultural competence: Understanding and utilizing cultural diversity to build successful organizations, ed. M. A. Moodian, 95-110. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.) 

Dimensions of Interdisciplinary Intercultural Competence

  1. Empathy
  2. Respect
  3. Impact of Prejudice, Discrimination. Xenophobia
  4. Foreign Language Skills (sociolinguistic awareness within the target culture)
  5. Worldviews & Value Differences
  6. Understanding Processes of Globalization
  7. Cultural Hybridity
  8. Awareness of Historical Influences
  9. Defining Human Rights
  10. Tolerance for Ambiguity
  11. Demonstrating Intercultural Sensitivity
  12. Valuing Diversity
  13. Awareness of Global Issues / Systems
  14. Influence of Situational Context
  15. Influence of Status, Power & Privilege
  16. Intercultural Communication Skills (both effective and appropriate)
  17. Multiple Perspective Taking
  18. Flexibility & Adaptability
  19. Ability to Manage & Cope with Change (views of change)
  20. Observation & Listening Skills
  21. Degree of Ethnocentrism / Ethnorelativism
  22. Ability to Withhold Judgment
  23. Cultural Self-Awareness
  24. Culture Specific Knowledge
  25. Openness, Curiosity & Risk-taking
  26. Ability to Shift Frames of Reference
  27. Commitment to Social Justice / Reciprocity
  28. Degree of Immersion / Isolation

(Source: Derived from Spitzberg, Brian H. and Changnon, Gabrielle (2009) “Conceptualizing Intercultural Competence,” in The Sage Handbook of Intercultural Competence. Darla Deardorff (editor) Los Angeles: Sage, 2-52.)


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