February 13, 2016

Developing U.S. teachers’ intercultural competence: Does professional development matter?

Written by Joan Dejaeghere, Associate Professor, University of Minnesota

Intercultural competence is an important skill for K-12 educators to effectively teach a demographically changing population of young people. This paper builds on research that uses the Intercultural Development Inventory to assess change in intercultural competence among K-12 educators. This study aims to understand the extent of change in educators’ intercultural competence in an urban district that has implemented an intercultural initiative based on Bennett’s Developmental Model of Intercultural Sensitivity. Analysis of pre- and post-test data from the Intercultural Development Inventory (IDI) revealed a significant, and medium effect size, positive change in IDI overall development scores. The data also reveal that behavioral adaptation changed significantly and to a greater extent than cognitive adaptation. The study’s findings suggest that intercultural competence can be developed through district and school-based professional development programs, in which the DMIS and the IDI serve as a process model to guide intercultural development. Given the variance in the change in teachers’ intercultural competence, school leaders and trainers should be careful to provide developmentally appropriate training that supports teachers’ learning. Read full study.