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Evaluation of an International Service Experience and Students' Intercultural Competence

Title: An Evaluation of an International Service Experience and Students' Intercultural Competence.
Name(s): Grass, Saralyn, author
Schrader, Linda Bethe, professor co-directing dissertation
Herrington, Carolyn D., professor co-directing dissertation
Readdick, Christine A., university representative
Schwartz, Robert A., committee member
Jones, Tamara Bertrand, committee member
Florida State University, degree granting institution
College of Education, degree granting college
Department of Educational Leadership and Policy Studies, degree granting department
Type of Resource: text
Genre: Text
Issuance: monographic
Date Issued: 2014
Publisher: Florida State University
Place of Publication: Tallahassee, Florida
Physical Form: computer
online resource
Extent: 1 online resource (201 pages)
Language(s): English
Abstract/Description: In 2011, President Obama called upon the education system to prepare students to be competitive in today's global workforce in order to regain the United States' position as the international leader in business, politics, and education. In response, colleges and universities have begun to internationalize their curriculum and introduce more cross-cultural experiences for students such as study abroad and international service learning programs. The intention of this study was to understand how intercultural competence was developed in students participating in three international service projects approximately one and a half years after their return, understand students' attitudes about their experiences, and propose suggestions for program improvements into future planning. Using a logic model as the conceptual framework for understanding program theory, this study addressed the following questions: 1. To what extent are intercultural competence outcomes realized by students approximately one and a half years after their return from participating in one of UHP's three international service projects? 2. What program elements facilitate or impede students' acquisition of intercultural competence? 3. What program elements can be expanded upon or changed to improve the program? The study was conducted with mixed methods and incorporated both qualitative and quantitative data. Surveys were conducted using the Intercultural Effectiveness Scale (IES) and the Intercultural Sensitivity Inventory (ICSI), which were designed to identify students' intercultural competence outcomes. The IES measures three dimensions: continuous learning, interpersonal engagement, and hardiness. Based on the dimensions of the IES, interviews were completed with each student approximately one and a half years post-project trip. The two student program directors also participated in a separate, second interview process seeking input on proposed changes both for the organization and the future design of international service projects. Sixteen students participated in one of UHP's three international service trips. Fifteen responded to the surveys and 14 made themselves available for an individual interview. Results were based on the subsequent analyses and triangulation of these data sources. The data showed all but one student scored in the 'high' range of the IES. The interview responses supported these scores and showed that students developed not only intercultural competence through their experience on the trip, but other skills including project management and evaluation. The data collected via the Intercultural Sensitivity Inventory suggested that students appeared to be flexible and open, however, the scores on the adaptability section suggested participants' misunderstanding of the objective of the measurement tool itself. Program elements which facilitated students' development of intercultural competence were identified. These included their involvement in the management of day-to-day activities while in-country, integration into the community and the culture, participation in community development activities, and extensive intercultural interactions. Because students were able to work and live alongside local community members, they seemed to gain a greater empathy for the culture and truly valued providing services to them. Survey data showed that students scored highest in the Interpersonal Engagement dimension, and this was supported by the interviews. A lack of planning was identified by many as a factor undermining the effectiveness of the program. All participants commented that they felt some of the elements were not planned well enough and that this had negative effects on the program outcomes. Although the change of plans seemed to upset students and distracted them from their goal of helping the host community, it all also gave them opportunities to develop other important skills like problem solving and team work. A number of important recommendations to enhance the program surfaced in the interviews, including: having experienced directors stay with the program for a long period of time; pre-trip opportunities to learn more about the culture, the host country, and the work to be expected upon arrival; recording and passing on lessons learned, policies, and practices; recruiting students earlier for participation in projects; delegating some of the planning work to students; recruiting from a greater range of academic disciplines; more pre-trip time to get to know other students; and having a liaison in the U.S. for the students abroad. The implementation of these recommendations will provide UHP with a stronger foundation and ensure a more sustainable organization. Overall, all participants found the experience to be life changing and expressed the desire to have more such organizations on campus. Recommendations for future research include comparisons between a control group and the intervention group as well as comparisons within group from before, immediately after, and sometime after in order to understand the impact of the trip over time. It is also recommended that UHP conduct more internal evaluations so that they can compare data across years.
Identifier: FSU_migr_etd-9181 (IID)
Submitted Note: A Dissertation submitted to the Department of Educational Leadership and Policy Studies in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Doctor of Education.
Degree Awarded: Fall Semester, 2014.
Date of Defense: October 31, 2014.
Keywords: Evaluation, Intercultural Competence, International Service Learning, Logic Model, Study Abroad
Bibliography Note: Includes bibliographical references.
Advisory Committee: Linda Schrader, Professor Co-Directing Dissertation; Carolyn Herrington, Professor Co-Directing Dissertation; Robert A. Schwartz, Committee Member; Tamara Bertrand Jones, Committee Member.
Subject(s): Educational evaluation
International relations
Education and state
Persistent Link to This Record:
Owner Institution: FSU

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Grass, S. (2014). An Evaluation of an International Service Experience and Students' Intercultural Competence. Retrieved from