June 20, 2010
June 20, 2010
June 23, 2010
15.202.1 - 15.202.8
Assessing the Intercultural Competence of Sophomore Mechanical Engineering Students: Baseline Data and Analysis
Keywords: IDI, intercultural development, global competency, global engineering education, mechanical engineering, sophomores
This paper presents baseline analysis of Intercultural Development Inventory (IDI) results for approximately five hundred sophomore mechanical engineering students at Purdue University. The IDI is a statistically reliable and cross-culturally valid measure of an individual’s actual and perceived intercultural development. This instrument is being used by Purdue’s School of Mechanical Engineering, particularly to assess students who are involved in global educational programs such as Global Engineering Alliance for Research and Education (GEARE). In this paper we examine IDI results for Purdue sophomore mechanical engineering students, including comparisons based on gender, amount of time spent living abroad, and whether or not they later participated in GEARE. We intend that our results will provide valuable baseline data for sophomore mechanical engineering students, thereby paving the way for cross-institutional comparisons, and enhancing the ability of university staff to design courses and experiences for students that match their current levels of intercultural sensitivity. We conclude with suggestions for further research and analysis, such as collecting and analyzing post-experience IDI data for students who have participated in global educational experiences.
Given dramatically changing technologies and increasingly globalized markets, leading stakeholders have declared that “it is imperative that all engineering students develop the skills and attitudes necessary to interact successfully with people from other cultural and national environment.”1 Universities throughout the world are now establishing curricula and programs to help prepare students for this new reality. One common avenue for this preparation is giving students the opportunity to study and/or work abroad. In the United States, it is now estimated that up to 7.5% of engineering students spend time abroad during their undergraduate studies and many schools have made commitments to increase this number.2
Purdue University is no different in this regard. In 2001, Purdue’s School of Mechanical Engineering launched Global Engineering Alliance for Research and Education (GEARE).3 This program involves collaboration between Purdue and the University of Karlsruhe in Germany, Shanghai Jiao Tong University in China, IIT Bombay in India, and Monterrey Tech in Mexico. Participating students study and intern abroad, and work on team projects with students at partner schools. Yet as programs like GEARE develop and mature, questions remain about what specific skills and competencies participating students can and should develop. There is also the issue of finding the most appropriate and effectives assessment mechanisms, to insure students are achieving these outcomes.
One of the more common anticipated outcomes for global engineering education is enhanced intercultural sensitivity and skills. One assessment mechanism often used to examine this
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