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Intercultural Competency Differences between U.S. and Central Asian students in an Engineering Across Cultures and Nations Graduate Course

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Conference

2019 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition

Location

Tampa, Florida

Publication Date

June 15, 2019

Start Date

June 15, 2019

End Date

June 19, 2019

Conference Session

International Division Technical Session 3

Tagged Division

International

Tagged Topic

Diversity

Page Count

26

DOI

10.18260/1-2--33005

Permanent URL

https://peer.asee.org/33005

Download Count

25

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Paper Authors

biography

Dena Lang Pennsylvania State University, University Park

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Dr. Lang is the Associate Director of the Engineering Leadership Research Program at Penn State University. She holds a BS in Mechanical Engineering from West Virginia University, an MBA from Johns Hopkins University, and a PhD in Kinesiology with a focus on Biomechanics from Penn State University. Dr. Lang's previous professional experiences and research interests range from mechanical engineering facilities design to research that applied engineering and molecular biology approaches to the study of the skeletal response to mechanical loading. As a Mechanical Engineer, she worked on facility design projects involving mechanical systems that included heating, ventilation, air conditioning, and energy conservation systems, as well as R&D of air conditioning equipment for Navy ships. Additional research interests have included the investigation of relationships among components of the indoor environment, occupants, and energy usage. Specifically, the effects of the indoor environment on occupant health and well-being and in parallel, how socially-mediated energy-saving strategies can increase awareness of energy use and/or increase energy saving behaviors. Dr. Lang's current research interests focus on identifying, assessing, and developing key skills, knowledge, attitudes, and other intrinsic and extrinsic factors required for engineers to effectively lead others, particularly other engineers and across cultures.

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Meg Handley Pennsylvania State University, University Park

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Meg Handley is currently the Associate Director for Engineering Leadership Outreach at Penn State University. Previously, Meg served as the Director of the Career & Corporate Connection's office at the Smeal College of Business at Penn State University. Meg completed her PhD in Workforce Education at Penn State, where she focused on interpersonal behaviors and their impact on engineering leadership potential.

Meg is a board certified coach with experience in developing students' leadership and professional competencies through teaching and one-on-one coaching. She is most interested in developing student knowledge of leadership to impact their successful transition to the workplace.

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Andrew Michael Erdman Pennsylvania State University, University Park

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Andrew M. "Mike" Erdman received his B.S. in Engineering Science from Penn State and his M.S. from USC. At Rocketdyne (Pratt & Whitney), he helped design the Space Shuttle. As manager of Reactor Safety Analysis, Experimental Engineering, and Fluid Dynamics Technology at KAPL (Bechtel), he conducted research for Naval Reactors. He currently serves as the Walter L. Robb director of Engineering Leadership and as a Professor of Practice in SEDTAPP and Engineering Science at Penn State.
Erdman has chaired the local Jaycees, Department of Social Services Advisory Council, GE Share Board, and Curling Club; and served on the Human Services Planning Council, United Way, Chamber of Commerce, and Capital Fund Drive Boards of Directors. Erdman has lectured on leadership topics at Penn State and RPI. He served as a recruiter (25 years) for GE and Lockheed Martin, on the Penn State College of Engineering Advisory Council, an Alumni Advisory Board, and as the President of the College of Engineering Alumni Society. Affiliations include Fellow of ASME, member of ASEE, AIAA, the Penn State Alumni Association, Centre County Chapter Board of Directors, President’s Club, Nittany Lion Club. He has been honored with a LMC Leadership Award, GE Phillippe Award, PSEAS Outstanding service award, Jaycee International Senatorship, and an ESM Centennial Fellowship.

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John Jongho Park Pennsylvania State University, University Park

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Dr. Park is an assistant research professor in the Engineering Leadership Program at Penn State University. There is four interrelated areas of inquiry characterize Dr. Park’s scholarship: psychological attributes, professional identity development, group processes, and leadership development. Particularly, he examines how possible future-self influences individuals’ learning, academic motivation, and career trajectory. The major population he primarily focuses on is STEM undergraduate and graduate students. He has received extensive qualitative and quantitative methodological training in the area of educational psychology. He acquired a Bachelor’s of Science in Human Resources Management and a Masters of Educational Technology from California State University, Long Beach, and a Master’s of Program Evaluation and a Doctorate of Philosophy from the University of Texas at Austin. Prior to joining the Penn State University, he worked as a research fellow and program evaluator at University of Michigan. Also he taught an “individual learning skills” as an assistant instructor in the University of Texas at Austin for five years.

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Mariza Tsakalerou Nazarbayev University

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Dr. Tsakalerou is an Assistant Professor of Engineering Management, in a graduate program jointly run by the School of Engineering and the Graduate School of Business at Nazarbayev University. Her research interests are in the areas of knowledge management, business clusters and innovation networks. She also serves as a board member of a software start up. In the past, she has served as a senior ministerial advisor to the Ministry of Administrative Reform and e-Governance in Greece, as a fellow with the KMIRC of Hong Kong Polytechnic University and as a visiting scholar at George Washington University and at the National University of Singapore.

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Abstract

This was an exploratory study to examine the level of ethnocentrism and cultural awareness in graduate students enrolled in a course on Engineering Across Cultures and Nations, jointly offered between a US university and a partner university in Central Asia. The course incorporates cross-cultural, international business aspects of engineering leadership in their shared online curriculum. The course is virtual-team, project-based, and students meet through video conferencing for regular project work. The course introduces students to dimensions of culture, globalization and the impact on engineering, self-awareness of diversity biases/filters and challenges and techniques of effective virtual collaboration. Survey response data were collected during the first week of the course (Pre) and during the last week of the semester (Post) to measure ethnocentrism and cultural awareness/acceptance. The Ethnocentrism Scale (Neuliep & McCroskey, 2013) was used to measure ethnocentrism and the Miville-Guzman Universality-Diversity Scale – Short Form (M-GUDS-S) was used to measure three subscales: Diversity of Contact, Relativistic Appreciation, and Comfort with Differences (Miville et al., 1999; Fuertes et al., 2000). Both of these instruments use Likert scales, which introduces uncertainty in the intervals between scale points. The Likert scale data was treated as ordinal and a nonparametric Mann-Whitney U-test was used to determine group differences based on Mean Rank. Data were matched for pre/post, resulting in 18 paired data sets (11 US students and 7 Central Asian students).

Significant differences were identified between Mean Rank of students from the US university and students from the Central Asian University for measures related to ethnocentrism (Pre: p=0.041; Post: 0.023) and the degree of comfort with diverse individuals (Pre: p=0.028; Post: 0.018). The level of ethnocentrism was greater in Central Asian students compared to US students and the level of comfort with diverse individuals was greater in US students compared to Central Asian students. These differences were observed in both the pre- and post-course assessments. Although only a few significant differences were identified between pre- and post-assessments, the rank mean values indicate a general decrease in ethnocentrism from pre to post and an increase in cultural awareness and appreciation of diversity from pre to post assessments. These results indicate a trend in the direction that was expected, however a limitation of this study is the small number of participants which likely limited our power to detect changes over the length of a semester long course.

Keywords: intercultural competencies; engineering across cultures

Lang, D., & Handley, M., & Erdman, A. M., & Park, J. J., & Tsakalerou, M. (2019, June), Intercultural Competency Differences between U.S. and Central Asian students in an Engineering Across Cultures and Nations Graduate Course Paper presented at 2019 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition , Tampa, Florida. 10.18260/1-2--33005

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