Exploring students’ cultural competence development during a short-term international experience: A Q-sort study
Keywords:q-methodology, Personal Cultural Competence Enhancement Framework, study abroad impacts, undergraduate students
This study was conducted to understand how students’ cultural awareness, knowledge, sensitivity, and communication abilities combine to influence their development of cultural competence. Q methodology (Q) was used to capture the subjectivity and lived experiences of participants of an international experience (IE) and assess the impact of the program on their cultural competence development. When viewed through the lens of the Personal Cultural Competence Enhancement Framework (PCCEF), findings suggested students’ cultural competence development could be interpreted through three typologies: (a) Cultural Learners, (b) Cultural Engagers, and (c) Cultural Samplers. Cultural Leaner students demonstrated new awareness of their limited amounts of cultural knowledge and desired to learn more about other cultures through future travel, but were still apprehensive about engaging and communicating with people from other cultures. Cultural Engagers, on the other hand, expressed greater confidence in stepping out of their comfort zones and communicating in a different language. Lastly, Cultural Samplers demonstrated increased awareness of the benefits of experiencing other cultures and they comforts they have back home, and they expressed a desire to continue traveling abroad in the future. These findings support the use of short-term IE programs as supplemental activities to foster agricultural students’ progression toward cultural competence.
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