Development of Intercultural Competence Through Embedded Course Curriculum
In today’s global environment, agricultural students need the skills to thrive among a workforce made up of individuals with diverse experiences and perspectives. One promising way to prepare students is through the development of intercultural competence (IC). This thesis addresses several different methods of developing IC in undergraduate students. Chapter 2 addresses incorporation of intercultural interventions into a short-term study abroad program coupled with and a follow-up semester-long on-campus companion course to specifically target empathy development. The study found that overall students did not increase significantly on the IDI, but did show positive growth in empathy development throughout the semester. Chapter 3 describes differences in IC of students completing intercultural learning (ICL) assignments throughout a face-to-face introductory animal agriculture course compared with students not completing ICL assignments. The intervention group showed significant increase according to the IDI and increased on average 9.46 points. In addition, the intervention group increased significantly more than the control group (87.54 ± 2.09 vs. 94.76 ± 1.67) (p <0.004; df=1; f=13.23).
Studies described in Chapter 4 build on those of methods followed a similar approach to the methods discussed in Chapter 3 but examine the impact of including reflection based ICL assignments using global animal agriculture as a medium. Notably, the course also occurred in an emergency remote learning setting during the COVID-19 pandemic. Results from the study discussed in Chapter 4 showed that the intervention group increased significantly more than the control group (86.75 ± 2.11 vs. 95.29 ± 2.35; p < 0.004). In addition, the intervention group also showed positive results in developing the specific skill of empathy throughout the semester.
The last study discussed in this thesis (Chapter 5) details the process of creating and validating a scale to specifically measure the competence levels in level of undergraduates’ essential skills in undergraduates. Cronbach’s alpha was reported for each skillset that was being evaluated and deemed acceptable.
Each of the studies discussed was designed to fill gaps in the literature regarding skill development in animal science undergraduate students. The development of such skills, and IC in particular, is necessary for all students whether they pursue careers with as possible the opportunity to develop these skills, not just those who participate in international elements. As such, developing validate means to provide students opportunities to hone such skills is necessary to student future success. Toward this end, the studies described here seek to measure the efficacy embedding intercultural learning into undergraduate agricultural curriculum at providing such opportunities.