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Cultural Orientation and Global Competency: A Comparative Assessment of Engineering Students

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2011 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Vancouver, BC

Publication Date

June 26, 2011

Start Date

June 26, 2011

End Date

June 29, 2011



Conference Session

Preparing Engineering Students for the Global Workplace, Competency, and a Successful Career

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Page Numbers

22.408.1 - 22.408.14



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Paper Authors


Yi Shen Purdue University

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Yi Shen is a Postdoctoral Researcher in Engineering Education at Purdue University. She holds a Ph.D. degree in Information Studies from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Her research examines cyberinfrastructure for interdisciplinary scientific research, global engineering education and global competency, and social informatics. Having expertise in mixed quantitative-qualitative methods, she applies factor analysis, multivariate statistics, and nonparametric statistical techniques as well as qualitative analysis to measurement development and model construction for assessing learning and evaluating innovations in intercultural educational practice and global engineering programs.

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Brent K. Jesiek Purdue University, West Lafayette

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Brent K. Jesiek is assistant professor in Engineering Education and Electrical and Computer Engineering at Purdue University. He holds a B.S. in Electrical Engineering from Michigan Tech and M.S. and Ph.D. degrees in Science and Technology Studies from Virginia Tech. His research examines the social, historical, global, and epistemological dimensions of engineering and computing, with particular emphasis on topics related to engineering education, computer engineering, and educational technology.

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Yating Chang Purdue University, West Lafayette

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Chang started her professional career as the Study Abroad Director at Western Kentucky University from 2001 - 2006, where she drove a three times increase in overseas educational experiences, working with a predominately local/in-state student population that does not have a natural inclination for study abroad (many being the first in their family to attend college). This work experience has become her focus and engagement of under-represented population in Education Abroad, focusing on students in science and engineering disciplines. Her main responsibilities include engagement of both students and faculty members at Purdue University to embrace global engineering mindsets and practice.

During the first two years at Purdue University, she drove a two times increase in the number of engineering major participating in both short-term and long-term overseas study. At her current position as the Assistant Director of the Purdue Office of Professional Program, Chang expands her expertise area to concentrate on developing global professional and research internships for students in the Engineering, Technology and Business disciplines. In 2010, she became the Program Director of International Research and Education in Engineering (IREE), a NSF funded program that sent 58 U.S. engineering researchers to conduct research in China.
Chang has been an active NAFSA member for more than 10 years. Currently, she serves as the 2009 network leader of the International Education Leadership Development network of NAFSA. She has organized numerous workshops and conferences with National Science Foundation, American Society of Engineering Education, and the Colloquium of International Engineering Education. In the past, she served on the Board of Trustees (2002 - 2006) of the Cooperative Center for Study Abroad, as Fulbright Advisor, and as a Selection Panelist for the national-level scholarship program for International Institute of Education.
Chang research interest is a derivative from her professional experience in global engineering education, with an emphasis on global engineering competencies and the impact of internationalization on the engineering profession.

Born in Taiwan, grew up in Singapore, Chang has traveled to over 30 different countries. Chang has an M.S. Cross-Cultural Psychology and an Ed.D. degree in Higher Education Leadership and Policy at the Peabody College at Vanderbilt University in 2007.

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Cultural Competency and Readiness for Global Experiences: An Assessment of Engineering StudentsGlobal educational experiences can help engineering students understand the importance ofcultural difference in cross-national working environments, while also giving them tools andstrategies for managing such differences in the practice of engineering. This study examines theextent of current engineering students’ awareness and potential acceptance of cultural similaritiesand differences, as well as the relation of their cultural competency to their perceived readinessfor global educational experiences.Two instruments were used to collect data for this study. First, the Miville-Guzman Universality-Diversity Scale – Short Form (MGUDS-S) is designed to measure a person’s orientation towarddiversity in three dimensions, namely Diversity of Contact, Relativistic Appreciation, andComfort with Differences. Second, a Readiness Assessment survey was developed by theresearch team to measure an individual’s sense of preparedness for a learning experience abroad.Demographic information was also collected from our subject populations.Four groups of engineering students participated in this study. First, a baseline population ofstudents enrolled in a first-year honors engineering course (n=50) completed the demographicand MGUDS-S surveys. The other target groups consisted of engineering students in threeinternational programs of varying degree of cultural immersion and duration: Maymester China,a one month study abroad program (n=26), International Research and Education in Engineering(IREE), a three month research abroad program (n=57), and Global Engineering Alliance forResearch and Education (GEARE), a seven month internship and study program (n=16).Participants in these groups completed the demographic, MGUDS-S, and Readiness Assessmentsurveys at the beginning of their respective programs. They completed the Readiness Assessmentsurvey again immediately prior to departure.This study addresses two major questions. First, does cultural orientation differ amongengineering students in each of the four study populations? Second, is a more advanced culturalorientation towards diversity positively correlated with an enhanced sense of preparedness for aglobal experience? A set of research hypotheses are proposed and tested to answer thesequestions, using multiple statistical analysis techniques for data analysis. This study alsodiscusses the effectiveness of the Readiness Assessment instrument, including its ability tomeasure how orientation experiences improve student preparedness for global experiences. Weuse our analysis to propose some possible improvements and refinements for this instrument.The results of this study will improve understanding of cultural development and competencyamong today’s engineering students. More specifically, this research explores strategies forsystematically measuring student predispositions toward global educational experiences, as wellas their sense of preparedness prior to such experiences. The results will suggest a number ofways to help global engineering programs recruit and orient students, including strategies forimproving their understanding of cultural difference and enhancing their ability to collaborateacross national and cultural boundaries.

Shen, Y., & Jesiek, B. K., & Chang, Y. (2011, June), Cultural Orientation and Global Competency: A Comparative Assessment of Engineering Students Paper presented at 2011 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Vancouver, BC. 10.18260/1-2--17689

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