The project’s approach will be informed by Deardorff’s (2006) definition of intercultural competence, “the ability to communicate effectively and appropriately in intercultural situations based on one’s intercultural knowledge, skills and attitudes” (p. 248) and Deardorff’s Intercultural Competence Model comprised of five elements including attitudes, knowledge, skills, internal outcomes and external outcomes. The project will be conducted in three phases, explained below.
Phase 1 – Focus groups with returned students & interviews with staff
The project team conducted focus groups with approximately 48 students from different disciplines. Students participated in short-term (2-4 weeks), credit-bearing study tours to Asia at the University of South Australia within the last five years. These programs included the Global Experience International Study Tours, the ‘Business in China’ Intensive Study Tours, the Undergraduate International Business Study Tour, the international field placements in Information Technology and Engineering, the Overseas Clinical Placements in Health and the overseas placement opportunities for students in Applied Languages and Intercultural Communication.
Upon returning from their study-abroad experiences, students were asked a a series of questions related to the preparation provided for their overseas experience.
Interviews were conducted with six teachers and six administrators (representing key disciplines) who were responsible for developing and/or leading an international study tour, regarding effective pre-departure support programs.
Phase 2 – Develop an evidence-based model for pre-departure preparation
Based on analysis of the data from the student focus groups and interviews with teaching and administrative staff, coupled with understandings from the literature, the project team have developed an evidence-based model of effective study tour preparation which can be used and adapted according to specific institutional requirements. The resulting resources are informed by our model and includes case studies. We have worked closely with students, reference group members and other discipline experts to ensure that resources are accurate, realistic and useful. For example, prospective students may be presented with Asian specific case studies in which they will be asked to outline how their learned skills and knowledge shape decisions through an applied process. While the seed project has developed these resources on a small scale at UniSA, it is anticipated that the pre-departure resources will be expanded to a national project.
Phase 3 – Dissemination
The findings from the project will be disseminated on an on-going basis to relevant stakeholders as each stage is completed. This will be achieved through targeted use of social media, the project website and a roundtable meeting to be held at the University of South Australia on 10 August, with key decision-makers and participants from the project reference group. Other invited stakeholders will include industry and government representatives (e.g. DFAT and the OLT). The outcomes and learning resources from this project will be beneficial to participating staff and students undertaking short-term study tours to Asia. Formal outputs will also include a chapter in the Handbook of Research on Study Abroad Programs and Outbound Mobility and two conference papers (AIEC 2014 and ISANA 2014). In addition to face-to-face meetings with key stakeholders, we will use and monitor a range of digital and social media to ensure the on-going dissemination of resources developed from the project. For further details regarding dissemination activities, please see here.
Prepare proposal for larger scale project
Using our established network, including reference group members at La Trobe and Murdoch Universities, as well as the evidence-based model, we will develop a proposal for a larger scale project. It is anticipated that the larger project will be based on extensive surveys of international short-term study tour participants and stakeholders across a number of Australian higher education providers. The evidenced-based model may be updated, extended and made available for institutional benchmarking purposes regarding best practice in student mobility programs.