Development and Validation of the Wesleyan Intercultural Competence Scale (WICS): A Tool for Measuring the Impact of Study Abroad Experiences
Keywords:Wesleyan Intercultural Competence Scale, Impact, Study Abroad, Education Abroad
One of the most frequently cited aims of higher education institutions is to help students develop intercultural competence. Study abroad programs are a primary vehicle for helping to achieve this goal; however, it has been difficult to quantify their impact as most existing measures of intercultural competence rely on subjective self-report methods that are easy to fake and that suffer from ceiling effects when attempting to measure change over time. Building on Bennett’s (1986) developmental theory, the current paper describes a new test–the Wesleyan Intercultural Competence Scale (WICS)–that uses a situational judgment testing approach to measure the development of intercultural competence within the context of a study-abroad experience. A total of 97 study-abroad students from Wesleyan took the WICSalong with eight external validation measures and a background questionnaire. Thirty participants took the test at two time points–once at the beginning of a study-abroad program and once at the end. The results indicate that the WICShad strong evidence in support of its content, construct, and criterion-related validity. In addition, the WICSwas capable of detecting changes in the development of intercultural competence over time in a way that none of the other validation measures were. The substantive findings revealed that the amount of time spent speaking the local language and the number of different situations experienced were strong predictors of the development of intercultural competence. Implications and future directions are discussed.
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