Many of the student learning outcomes explored in the AHITW initiative center on enhancing intercultural competence through an enriched and collaborative learning environment. According to Bennett (2011), “Intercultural Competence is a set of cognitive, affective, and behavioral skills and characteristics that supports effective and appropriate interaction in a variety of cultural contexts. Intercultural competence provides an overarching perspective for weaving together primary concepts for interacting across both global and domestic differences.”
There is not a universal model for developing a set of shared student learning outcomes. Each campus will need to identify and apply outcomes that make the most sense for its culture and context. Begin this exploratory process among the campus committee, but communicate with and solicit feedback from the larger campus community to ensure there is ample input from all constituents.
Specifying student learning outcomes provides the crucial foundation upon which an institution can determine whether the curriculum and co-curricular programs provide students with appropriate opportunities to achieve the desired learning outcomes. Performing a campus audit of current courses, events, and programs could reveal areas where collaboration may already exist, or could help identify areas where collaboration may enhance the campus’s ability to achieve the desired outcomes.
Assessing Intercultural Competence
Once there is a clear understanding of learning goals, an institution must devise an assessment strategy. Assessment is critical in determining whether outcomes are achieved and whether institutions are being effective in their educational delivery. Assessment takes place at multiple levels: student learning, programmatic, and institutional.
When assessing student learning, it is critical to know what students are learning as a result of their curricular and co-curricular experiences. In order to gauge this, institutions must collect direct and/or indirect evidence of student learning. Examples of direct evidence include a course assignment or exam or, if looked at more longitudinally, a collection of assessments compiled through an e-portfolio. Indirect evidence measures perceptions of student learning, or what someone thinks he or she has learned, and this is often assessed through inventories, focus groups, or interviews.
Institutional Example: Alliant International University is an example of an institution that transformed its curriculum to enhance the learning experience with the goal that their students would achieve greater levels of intercultural competency.
Figure: Steps to Achieving Greater Intercultural Competence
Next Section: Where to Begin: Tips for Getting Started