International Business & Management Studies (IBMS)

International Business & Management Studies (IBMS)

Published by Marcel H. van der Poel op Tuesday 10 January
© 2018

The Intercultural Competence Learning Lab offers teaching staffs at the International Business School a safe environment for sharing intercultural experiences that often create uncertainty, anxiety, and self-doubt. What makes participants experience the ICLL as a good practice is having regular moments with peers for genuine attention to intercultural experiences and (classroom) incidents, being part of a platform for IC discussion, learning relevant IC theories and models, actively working on one's own intercultural sensitivity, and generating didactical and management advices for improving the (IC) quality of the educational environment.

Description

The IBS Intercultural Competence Learning Lab, or ICLL, is a safe environment for IBS teaching staff sharing intercultural (classroom) experiences or incidents, for critical reflection on experiences and current IC models, and for discussing self-development issues related to intercultural competence (IC)

The framework for ICLL is based on the consensus model of Intercultural Competence designed by Darla Deardorff (2009) - see illustration 1. The ICLL framework structures our facilitation of intercultural sensitivity development; a total of 9 sessions of 4 hours each, and 3 disseminating sessions with the IBS community, spread over a period of 10 months.

A) The starting point for both the model as well as for the framework is the teacher's attitude. Participants are expected to be open, respectful and curious. We operationalize the curiosity by asking for voluntary participation in the ICLL. Respect and openness is manifest at the start of each ICLL session when participants discuss personal IC experiences or critical (classroom) IC incidents. We jointly analyze to what extent cultural values, prejudices, stereotypical behavior, etc. play a role in our (teaching) experiences and classroom observations.

B) We facilitate the process of cultural self-awareness by having all participants fill out the IDI questionnaire at the start of the ICLL trajectory (pre-test). They then receive both a group- and individual feedback, articulate personal IC learning outcomes based on the profiles, fill out a second IDI questionnaire at the end of the ICLL trajectory (post-test), receive a second profile, and reflect on the outcomes. Obviously, we aim at witnessing progress. Hence directly connected, in order to say something about the assumption that increased sensitivity leads to increased competence we interview all participants at the end of the ICLL trajectory, finding out what participants report as learning moments from the ICLL that enhanced their intercultural competence.
Further, all the participants keep a logbook where they self-report critical incidents or key learning moments that relate to their self-selected IC exploration issues. These issues are called 'your intrigue' and include among others: the concept of excellence in various cultures, managing multicultural teaching staff, and the cultural variety of epistemology.

C) For skills development we focus predominantly on empathy and perspective taking. Pettigrew (2008) proved that these elements are crucial in IC development; Deardorff (2009) showed that over 20 experts in the field of IC see empathy as the single fully agreed upon subcomponent of IC. We try to stimulate skills development by having empathy and perspective taking exercises + debriefing during our ICLL sessions.

Favourable and demonstrable effect on the quality of education

By triangulation of the data from the IDI pre- and post-test, the individual self-reports, and the interviews we aim at achieving a higher validity of our findings related to the development of intercultural sensitivity and competence due to the ICLL intervention. Or simply stated: we hope to be able to proof that it works.

Our line of thinking is as follows: attitude, knowledge, comprehension and skills development leads to a desired internal outcome, namely an increased intercultural sensitivity. The improved intercultural sensitivity is assumed to lead to an external outcome, namely an improved intercultural competence. We define intercultural competence as the ability to handle and communicate both effectively and appropriately in a variety of cultural contexts. Since we operate in educational context we specify this further as the ability to educate both effectively and appropriately, and made visible by respecting and using the variety of cultural contexts present in the multicultural classroom. In doing so we role-model the critical reflection and the behavior that we think is indispensible for intercultural competent graduates - see illustration 2.

A preliminary finding of the pre-test IDI group score is that the group has not resolved issues related to tendencies to assume that people from other cultures are basically 'like us', and that the group has not resolved issues related to tendencies to shift perspective according to cultural context. Phrased differently, the group is dealing with issues that relate to commonalities among different people; the group may take that as leading in their interaction with others.

So, it 'works' if we see progress in this IDI score, and find confirmation in both the reports and the interview that in the opinion of the teachers this is due to the learning at the ICLL. We then go by the assumptions described above that this will have a positive effect on the quality of education. The following scholars underpin our assumption: Deardorff (2009) writes that 'the shifts of internal frames predict appropriate and effective outcomes' (italics added, p. 32). Scholar Medina-López-Portillo writes that 'through increasing levels of intercultural sensitivity, increasing degrees of proficiency in intercultural competence become possible' (italics added, p. 180). Bennett and Bennett (2004) write: 'The underlying assumption of the model is that as one's experience of cultural differences becomes more sophisticated, one's competence in intercultural relations increases' (italics added p. 152). And finally Hammer (2007) writes that 'more ethnorelative worldviews have more potential to generate the attitude, knowledge and behavior that constitute intercultural competence' (p. 1).

Still, demonstrable effect on the quality of the education would ideally come from pre- and post-testing the intercultural competence of students. We do not have that instrument in place (yet).

Constraints or limitations and unique features

One of the unique features of the ICLL is that it offers a safe environment to teaching staff for sharing intercultural experiences that often create uncertainty, anxiety, and self-doubt. What makes participants experience the ICLL as a good practice is having regular moments with peers for genuine attention to intercultural experiences and (classroom) incidents, being part of a platform for IC discussion, learning relevant IC theories and models, actively working on one's own intercultural sensitivity, and generating teaching and management advices for improving the (IC) quality of the educational environment. The initiative is termed a Learning Lab in recognition of the richness, complexity and ambiguity of the subject matter, as much as in recognition of the absence of uniform solutions; we seek and we try.

Exchange characteristics & opportunities

Peers can relatively easily copy the basic concept of the ICLL. The power of collaborative learning by offering a platform for deeper understanding of intercultural classroom experiences or incidents is quickly obvious to participants. Facilitation however with validated instruments like the IDI, directing learning based on DMIS developmental stages, and professionally taking care of the training components requires trained staff. The ICLL practice can easily be repeated, but should not be expanded beyond a group size of 12-14.

10 JAN

Specifications

Level: Bachelor
Orientation: Professional

Standard: Staff
Assessment Result:

Type: The programme was NOT assessed against the NVAO framework "BKInt"

Contact information

Contact: Marcel H. van der Poel
Contact e-mail: m.h.van.der.poel(plaats the 'at' sign hier)pl.hanze.nl
Institution: International Business School, Hanze University of Applied Sciences Groningen
Website: http://ibsgroningen.com
Country: The Netherlands

Author(s)

Marcel H. van der Poel (m.h.van.der.poel(plaats the 'at' sign hier)pl.hanze.nl)

References

Bennett, M. J. (1993). Towards ethnorelativism: A developmental model of intercultural sensitivity. In R. Michael Paige (Ed.), Education for the intercultural experience (pp. 21-71). Yarmouth, ME: Intercultural Press Inc.
Bennett, J. M., & Bennett, M. J. (2004). Developing intercultural sensitivity: An integrative approach to global and domestic diversity. In D. Landis, J. M. Bennett & M. J. Bennett (Eds.), Handbook of intercultural training (3rd ed., pp. 147-165). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications Inc.
Deardorff, D. K. (Ed.). (2009). The SAGE handbook of intercultural competence. Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE Publications Inc.
Hammer, M. R., Bennett, M. J., & Wiseman, R. (2003). Measuring intercultural sensitivity: The intercultural development inventory. International Journal of Intercultural Relations, 27, 421-443
Hammer, M. R. (2007). The intercultural development inventory: Manual. Portland, OR: The Intercultural Communication Institute.
Medina-Lapez-Portillo, A. (2004). Intercultural learning assessment: The link between program duration and the development of intercultural sensitivity. Frontiers: The Interdisciplinary Journal of Study Abroad, X, pp. 179-200
Pettigrew, T. F. (2008). Future directions for intergroup contact theory and research. International Journal if Intercultural Relations, 32 (3), 182-199