S4-PRO6-6 - A KCI Approach to Promote Intercultural Competencies for International Virtual Engineering Student Team (InVEST)2. Research-to-Practice Work In Progress
1 University of Toronto
Work in Progress: Engineering students need more than technical knowledge to meet the demands of the 21st century, they also require lifelong learning skills and inter-cultural knowledge. Intercultural learning is a global competence concept which is necessary for engineers to be able to work on complex global projects; immigrate to find work; collaborate and compete with multicultural colleagues; and work for international companies (OECD/Asia Society, 2018; Downey et al, 2006). Higher education institutions are exploring how to support and faciliitate develop intercultural competences in students; however, in the engineering discipline studies are limited. Traditional study-abroad approaches have been adversely impacted by global events and challenges such as safety issues, health concerns, natural disasters, and political instability as well as students’ financial and time constraints (Opendoors, 2017). Consequently, educators are working to address the ‘perception’ gap across instructors, students, and employers. A study on large companies found that while 59.9% of respondents valued the efforts of engineering education institutions in preparing students for success in a global environment, only 27% of respondents felt that universities were successful in this mission (Warnick, 2011). In response, engineering education institutions and programs are exploring how to harness technology to satisfy academic and labor market needs in a scalable manner. This paper introduces the use of the Knowledge Community and Inquiry (KCI) pedagogical model developed by Slotta (2013) to design an inter-cultural learning course for student participants in the International Virtual Engineering Student Teams (InVEST) project. InVEST uses a blend of online social and collaborative experiential learning and synchronous video meetings to support students and educators involved in the project. The InVEST pilot project is aimed at bringing globally-dispersed educators and their engineering students together to engage in cross-institutional and collaborative project-based learning via an online learning environment. The course is designed to assist students in gaining an appreciation of diverse cultures and working together on a project to co-construct new cross-cultural understanding.