The Reflective Model of Intercultural Competency: A Multidimensional, Qualitative Approach to Study Abroad Assessment


  • Tracy Rundstrom Williams



Reflective model, Intercultural competency, Qualitative research, Study abroad assessement, Study abroad, Education abroad


This paper presents a multidimensional, qualitative approach to data collection. This approach makes qualitative data easy to collect and encourages students to reflect and contextualize their experience so that the students themselves articulate their own growth towards intercultural competence. This article will demonstrate how I established a set of learning outcomes for study abroad, encouraged student awareness of these learning outcomes prior to departure and during the program, and collected qualitative data to measure how well students were reaching these outcomes. This innovative approach, the Reflective Model of Intercultural Competence, shows both the benefits of qualitative data and of a multidimensional collection process. This approach provides rich data about student gains and it encourages students to consider their experience in broad terms, providing them with meaningful ways to articulate their experience to others. Furthermore, integrating learning outcomes into assessment reinforces their importance. The Reflective Model of Intercultural Competence provides a new and effective multifaceted tool for assessing study abroad outcomes


Download data is not yet available.

Author Biography

Tracy Rundstrom Williams

Tracy Rundstrom Williams is the Associate Director of the Center for International Studies: TCU Abroad at Texas Christian University, which sends over 450 students abroad each year. She also oversees TCU’s Certificate in International Studies and teaches courses on intercultural communication and language and gender. She holds a Ph.D. in Linguistics from the University of Texas at Arlington. 


Brislin, R. & Yoshida, T. (1994). Intercultural communication training: An introduction. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications.

Chieffo, Lisa and Lesa Griffiths. (Fall 2004). “Large scale assessment of student attitudes after a short-term study abroad program.” Frontiers: The Interdisciplinary Journal of Study Abroad, 10, 165–177.

Deardorff, D. K. (2004). The Identification and Assessment of Intercultural Competence as a Student Outcome of Internationalization at Institutions of Higher Education in the United States. Doctoral dissertation. Raleigh, NC: North Carolina State University.

Dignes, N. (1983). “Intercultural competence.” In D. Landis & R. W. Brislin (Eds.), Handbook of intercultural training, volume 1. Elmsford, NY: Pergamon Press, Inc.

Grunzweig, W. & Rinehart, N. (1998). “International Understanding and Global Interdependence: A philosophical inquiry.” International Educator, Fall, 41-48.

Gudykunst, W. (1991). Bridging Differences: Effective Intergroup Interactions. Newbury Park, CA: Sage Publications.

Gudykunst, W., Ting-Toomey, S. & Wiseman, R. (1991). “Taming the Beast: Designing a course in intercultural communication. Communication Education, 40, 272-285.

Ingraham, Edward C. and Debra L. Peterson (Fall 2004). “Assessing the impact of study abroad on student learning at Michigan State University.” Frontiers: The Interdisciplinary Journal of Study Abroad, 10, 83–100.

Jackson, J. (August, 2005). “Assessing intercultural learning through introspective accounts.” .Frontiers: The Interdisciplinary Journal of Study Abroad, 11, 165–186.

Kehl, K. and J. Morris (Winter 2007–2008). “Differences in global-mindedness between short-term and semester-long study abroad participants at selected universities.” Frontiers: The Interdisciplinary Journal of Study Abroad, 15, 67–79.

Kelley, C., & Meyers, J. (1995). CCAI Cross Cultural Adaptability Inventory Manual. Minneapolis, MN: National Computer Systems, Inc.

Kim, Y. (1991). “Intercultural communication competence: A systems-theoretic view.” In S. Ting-Toomey & F. Korzenny (Eds.) Cross-cultural interpersonal communication (pp.259-275). Newbury Park: Sage Publications.
Ogden, A. (Fall, 2006). Ethnographic inquiry: Reframing the learning core of education abroad. Frontiers: The Interdisciplinary Journal of Study Abroad, 13, 87–12.

Olson, C. L., & Kroeger, K. R. (Summer 2001). “Global competency and intercultural sensitivity.” Journal of Studies in International Education, 5, 116-137.

Sutton, R. & D. Rubin. (Fall 2004). “The GLOSSARI project: Initial findings from a system-wide research initiative on study abroad learning outcomes.” Frontiers: The Interdisciplinary Journal of Study Abroad, 10, 65–82.

Ting-Toomey, S. (1999). Communicating Across Cultures. New York: The Guilford Press.




How to Cite

Williams, T. R. (2009). The Reflective Model of Intercultural Competency: A Multidimensional, Qualitative Approach to Study Abroad Assessment. Frontiers: The Interdisciplinary Journal of Study Abroad, 18(1), 289–306.



Research Articles