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Survey instruments

The Bringing the Learning Home project made use of two surveys to gain greater insight into the profile and attitudes of Australian students going abroad, in part to better understand the qualitative results emerging from students weblog posts, workshops and photo reflections. The two survey instruments were a modified version of the Georgia Learning Outcomes of Students Studying Abroad Research Initiative (GLOSSARI) survey and the Intercultural Effectiveness Questionnaire (ICEQ).

A number of well-known proprietary survey instruments are available in this area, such as the Intercultural Development Inventory (IDI), the Cross-Cultural Adaptability Inventory (CCAI), and the Beliefs, Events and Values Inventory (BEVI). Many of these tools have been carefully studied, verified, and are prominent in the literature for those study abroad programs that wish to adopt them (see Hammer 2007; Hammer et al. 2003; Kelley 1995; see also Vande Berg et al. 2009). The research team did not administer or test these tools as the project concentrated on curriculum and resource development for enhancing study abroad.

Proprietary tools such as the IDI might provide an important resource for some programs, if they possess the resources to administer these types of surveys. Our use of the Australian-tailored version of the GLOSSARI was intended to provide a very low cost alternative, as we are making the instruments freely available. Especially with the opening of the GLOSSARI database to outside researchers, the possibility of comparative research was especially attractive.

Australian version of the Georgia Learning Outcomes of Students Studying Abroad Research Initiative (GLOSSARI) survey (BTLH-GLOSSARI)

A modified version of the Georgia Learning Outcomes of Students Studying Abroad Research Initiative (GLOSSARI) survey was prepared and administered on SurveyMonkey to a sample of over 100 students preparing to go abroad at the participating home institutions.

The BTLH-GLOSSARI survey is a 65-item electronic questionnaire intended to provide the researchers with a profile of students traveling abroad, including both demographic factors and more hard-to-measure skills and attitudes. The initial 36 questions identify a student's origin and prior experience abroad, the nature of their study abroad program, previous training in intercultural communication, and their family, cultural and educational background, including their peer group. Some questions are open-ended but others allow us to group students based on, for example, their level of prior international experience or home institution.

The GLOSSARI survey developed by the University of Georgia also includes a battery of 29 simple self-assessment questions which were adapted to reflect students' Australian background. Sutton and Rubin (2004: 72) describe the creation of the GLOSSARI survey tool and the areas of competence that the questions about 'learning outcomes' would address:

While the GLOSSARI survey was primarily used by the University of Georgia to assess learning outcomes from study abroad, because the BTLH project was designed to generate curriculum, we administered the questions to better understand our students' self-understandings and global knowledge base so that we might best tailor our training program to their distinctive needs. We do believe, however, that the BTLH-GLOSSARI may provide a model for assessing learning outcomes from study abroad enhancement programs (see Redden 2010).

The GLOSSARI survey itself is not proprietary, and the BTLH 'Australianised' version of the survey, including data from our initial pool, will be made available for comparison. Our choice was guided, in part, by a desire for an open access tool that other universities could freely adopt and use. Many of the survey and self assessment tools in the area of intercultural communication and learning are proprietary; some of these tools are excellent, and providers also offer comprehensive services to evaluate, benchmark and report findings back to institutions and participants.

Intercultural Effectiveness Questionnaire (ICEQ)

The project also surveyed a smaller set of students using the 48-item Intercultural Effectiveness Questionnaire (ICEQ) developed by University of Melbourne-based education consultant, Dr. Nick Stone (see Stone 2009). The ICEQ was designed to assess the ability to interact with people from unfamiliar cultural backgrounds in productive ways by evaluating subjects' empathy, confidence, emotional self-management, motivation, open mindedness, degree of respect in interpersonal interaction, self-awareness, and knowledge of both other cultures and cultural difference as a general principle. The survey is covered by ethics approval at the University of Melbourne.

The ICEQ assesses a wide range of subjects' abilities and character traits precisely because intercultural interactions are so demanding, requiring a diverse group of abilities to navigate successfully. We sought to profile the students—and compare them to other populations—in order to better understand their reactions in qualitative research and reflection. We sought to better document whether they were unusual, or if the types of reactions that they had to new experiences, disequilibrium and unexpected challenges would be predictable based on their profile on the ICEQ.

The project team chose the ICEQ for a number of reasons: 1) the questions were specifically designed to avoid ethnocentric assumptions and have been tested on a number of different cultural groups, essential considering the diversity of our student participants; 2) the ICEQ explores emotional abilities that play an important role in intercultural exchange; and 3) the ICEQ specifically investigates both fixed and dynamic characteristics, those that can be expected to improve with intercultural experience and those personality traits that are generally thought to remain unchanged (see Stone 2009).

Practically, for Australian universities, the ICEQ may offer an attractive alternative to the dozens of existing tools for measuring intercultural competence or beliefs, especially given the financial and training demands of using some other instruments.

References

Hammer, Mitchell R. 2007. The Intercultural Development Inventory (IDI) Manual (v.3). Ocean Pines, MD: IDI, LLC.

Hammer, Mitchell R., Milton J. Bennett, & Richard Wiseman. 2003. Measuring intercultural sensitivity: The intercultural development inventory. International Journal of Intercultural Relations 27(4): 421-443.

Kelley, Colleen, and Judith Myers. 1995. Cross-intercultural Adaptability Inventory. Minneapolis, MN: National Computer Systems.

Redden, Elizabeth. 2010. Academic Outcomes of Study Abroad. Inside Higher Ed. Accessed online at: <www.insidehighered.com/news/2010/07/13/abroad>. Downloaded on 19 January, 2012.

Stone, Nick. 2009. The Curse of the Constructs: Defining and Measuring Intercultural Effectiveness. Paper delivered to the 23rd Annual Australian and New Zealand Academy of Management Conference.

Sutton, Richard C., and Donald L. Rubin. 2004. The GLOSSARI Project: Initial Findings from a System-Wide Research Initiative on Study Abroad Learning Outcomes. Frontiers: The Interdisciplinary Journal of Study Abroad 10: 65-82.

Vande Berg, Michael, Jeffrey Connor-Linton, and R. Michael Paige. 2009. The Georgetown Consortium Project: Interventions for Student Learning Abroad. Frontiers: The Interdisciplinary Journal of Study Abroad 18: 1-75.