We told you last week about the TEF (Test d’évaluation du Français), an internationally recognized certificate attesting to French language competence. In one semester, AUCP students make leaps and bounds towards fluency…
But wait! Specialists in intercultural communication like Edward T. Hall insist that words count for only 10% of communication. The other 90% is made up of a multitude of messages — most of which we are not even aware of. Intercultural competence is all about bringing that 90% into awareness and learning to feel (in a sophisticated, holistic way) what words or behavior are appropriate in a given context. That precious life skill is simply called intercultural competence. To evaluate students’ development of intercultural competence over the course of a semester or a year, the AUCP uses contracted independent testing. Enter the IDI – the Intercultural Development Inventory.
Created in 1998 by Mitchell Hammer and Milton Bennett, Ph.D.s, the IDI is widely regarded as the most valid and reliable assessment tool for measuring intercultural competence. To date it has served as the research tool for close to 70 doctoral dissertations.
Not only do AUCP students make record progress in the IDI (ten times more than other students abroad, as documented by the 2005-7 Georgetown Consortium Study), but, as a result of their developing skill, they make lasting friendships abroad, getting past the superficial same-information conversations that most students are limited to. That measurable personal success is linked to discerning and appreciating cultural difference and being willing to adapt to it. It’s about breaking the bubble and stretching your wings in a wider world.
AUCP students take the IDI at the beginning and end of each semester – in January and again in May.
AUCP Spring 2014 students were the twenty-sixth group to take the IDI evaluation. Most impressively, this semester’s students averaged 16.79 points of progress on the IDI (as opposed to the 1.28 points of progress recorded by 60 other programs tested in the Georgetown Study). Twelve of our twenty-eight students (43%) finished the semester with over 115/145 points, having crossed the threshold from Minimization to Acceptance/Adaptation on the Intercultural Development Scale. This reflects a world view construct which acknowledges and respects cultural difference and allows for the adjustment of personal behavior in order to integrate and accommodate that difference, an unparalleled achievement for American students abroad.
The AUCP’s French Practicum is an invaluable tool that, through immersion, gives our students multiple opportunities for experiential learning and intercultural development.
Check back later on the blog for more information on intercultural learning, development and the philosophy behind the IDI.