S7-PRO7-4 - Cultural Intelligence and Experiences in Engineering Study Abroad Programs

3. Research Full Paper
Katie Shoemaker1, 2 , Aileen Huang-Saad1, 3, 4
1 University of Michigan
2 Center for the Study of Higher and Postsecondary Education
3 Biomedical Engineering
4 Engineering Education

Full paper. As the global economy becomes increasingly integrated and engineers play a larger role in economic development, engineering programs are tasked with offering a multitude of learning experiences that extend beyond traditional engineering content knowledge.  In doing so, calls for better assessment to evaluate such programs is growing.  This study answers the following:  1) Is the Cultural Intelligence Survey (CQS) an appropriate measure for examining engineering student study abroad outcomes, and 2) What is the relationship between students’ characteristics, study abroad experiences, and pretest-posttest changes in cultural intelligence scores?  The CQS (Ang et al., 2007) is a 20-item survey that measures cultural intelligence (CQ), the “capability to function effectively in culturally diverse settings” (p. 335). The CQ is comprised of four cultural intelligence dimensions: cognitive, metacognitive, motivational, and behavioral. The cognitive dimension measures one’s knowledge regarding cultural norms, practices, and conventions in various cultural settings. The metacognitive dimension regards one’s ability to evaluate cultural knowledge, with attention to self-awareness and cognitive processes during intercultural interactions. The motivational dimension measures one’s mental ability to focus and sustain one’s energy on performance during cross-cultural interactions. Finally, the behavioral dimension assesses one’s ability to modify behavior to be appropriate in various cultural contexts (Van Dyne et al., 2012).  Three hundred fifty six (356) students enrolled in 19 summer study abroad courses through a College of Engineering and completed pre- and post-surveys measuring CQ and student experiences. Student experience was captured as the frequency in which students engaged in 15 behaviors—adapted from preliminary results of a qualitative research study focused on identifying students study abroad experiences that influence intercultural learning. Sample items include “tried new foods” and “spoke the host country language outside the classroom/learning environment.”  We used paired t-tests to measure pre-post changes in CQ and OLS regression to identify student characteristics and student experiences significantly associated with CQ post-test scores. Results indicated that, unlike more common measures of intercultural study abroad outcomes, the CQ is an effective measure of short-term outcomes. In fact, not only did we find significant increases in students’ overall CQ from pretest to posttest, we also found significant increases in each of the four dimensions of CQ from pretest to posttest. These results indicate that the CQ is an effective tool for measuring more fine-grained intercultural learning and development outcomes in engineering study abroad programs. Additionally, we found that students who spoke a foreign language and reported more frequently having meaningful conversations about culture reported significantly higher post-test CQ scores than their peers. Also, students who reported a greater frequency of having tense, hostile interactions reported significantly lower post-test CQ scores. Collectively, these results suggest that global engineering education programs can consider using the CQ as an effective outcome measure. They also indicate the importance of not treating study abroad as a monolithic experience, signaling the need to look inside programs to understand the experiences of students and how these experiences are connected to intercultural learning outcomes.