Intercultural competence is the capability to shift cultural perspective and adapt behavior to cultural differences and commonalities (Hammer, 2015). Intercultural competence has been identified as a critical capability for college graduates and one of the top ten skills needed for the future workforce (2011, Institute for the Future publication, Future Work Skills 2020). Additionally, intercultural learning has been a major goal for foreign language education (Davis, Cho & Hagenson, 2005). The notion of “intercultural speaker” has a long history in the field of foreign language education, which calls for extending language education to teaching knowledge about countries and cultures where the language was spoken and cultivating the capability to interact with people with different cultural values, perceptions and behaviors (Byram, 2009).
In this roundtable discussion, the researchers introduce two studies with Italian language and Turkish culture courses that integrate intercultural learning into the curricular design in order to make these learning goals explicit for undergraduate students. They examine innovative teaching practices and learning outcomes of the Italian language courses and a Turkish culture course. In the Italian courses, intercultural learning modules are intentionally embedded with targeted learning components to facilitate developmental growth of intercultural competence. The Turkish culture course leverages online cross-cultural interactions for global learning and intercultural outcomes for both American students and Turkish college students. The virtual learning environment implements similar interventions known to be effective in education abroad. For example, time spent interacting with locals and cross-cultural collaboration have been shown to maximize student learning in education abroad (Paige, 2009; Berg, Connor-Linton, & Paige, 2009; Berg, 2009; Rhodes, Biscarra, Loberg, & Roller, 2012). Similarly, the virtual setting offers unique strengths for intercultural learning (Merryfield 2003; Jung, Gunawardena, & Moore, 2014). Studies in education abroad and online intercultural education find that students’ ability to engage through sustained interaction (Berg, 2009) and in reciprocity with their peers “builds intercultural skills” (Ware, 2013).
In both studies, the Intercultural Development Inventory (IDI) is used to assess the intercultural learning of participants before and after the courses. Additionally, we use previously piloted ePortfolios based on best practices in global education and online cultural learning to implement and assess online learning activities that join students in conversation with peers at Turkish universities. ePortfolios are gaining traction in internationalizing the curriculum and have been identified as “the best way of assessing learning in the online environment” (Sangra, Porto, & Jung, 2014). The ePortfolio and the IDI assessment guide students to achieve intercultural learning through a developmental approach.
The researchers will share the course designs and lead discussions on intercultural learning outcomes, assessment methods and innovative pedagogy for intercultural competence. By making intercultural learning an explicit goal for language and culture courses, we hope to increase students’ awareness and reflection on the interconnectedness of the humanity, and also contribute to the discourse on high impact practices for student learning.