Cultural Competence

Strategic outcome

Improve cultural competence among students and Student Affairs staff.

Proposed change

Replace cultural competence with intercultural competence

Definition of intercultural competence

  • A set of cognitive, affective, and behavioral skills and characteristics that support effective and appropriate interaction in a variety of cultural contexts. (Bennett, 2008 1).

Components of intercultural competence

(Deardorff, 2006 2)

Move from personal level (attitude) to interpersonal/interactive level outcomes.

  • Requisite Attitudes
    • Respect (value other cultures, cultural diversity)
    • Openness (to intercultural learning and to people from other cultures, withholding judgment)
    • Curiosity and discover (tolerating ambiguity and uncertainty)
  • Knowledge, comprehension and skills
    • Cultural self-awareness
    • Deep understanding and knowledge of culture (including contexts, role and impact of culture, and others’ world view)
    • Culture-specific information
    • Sociolinguistic awareness
    • Skills to listen, observe, and interpret
    • Skills to analyze, evaluate, and relate
  • Desired internal outcomes (informed frame of reference/filter shift)
    • Adaptability to different communication styles and behaviors, adjustment to new cultural environment
    • Flexibility: selecting and using appropriate communication styles and behaviors, cognitive flexibility
    • Ethnorelative view: one’s own culture is experiences in the context of other cultures (vs. ethnocentrism: one’s own culture is experiences as central to reality in some way)
    • Empathy
  • Desired external outcomes
    • Behaving and communicating effectively and appropriately (based on one’s intercultural knowledge, skills, and attitudes) to achieve one’s goals to some degree.


  • Due to the complexity of intercultural competence, recommended and commonly used assessment methods are primarily qualitative in nature (e.g., student interviews, student paper/presentations, observations, student portfolios).
  • The VALUE rubric 3 is recommended to assess students’ learning and progress on the listed outcomes (See Appendix A). The rubric can be used either as a grading or self-assessment tool.


[1] Bennett, J. M. (2008). Transformative training: Designing programs for culture learning. In M. A. Moodian (Ed.), Contemporary leadership and intercultural competence: Understanding and utilizing cultural diversity to build successful organizations (pp. 95-110). Sage.

[2] Deardorff, K. D. (2006). Identification and assessment of intercultural competence as a student outcome of internationalization. Journal of Studies in International Education, 10(3), 241-266.

[3] Association of American Colleges and Universities. (2009). Inquiry and analysis VALUE rubric.