Does Length of Study Abroad Impact Cultural Intelligence of Dietetics Students?


  • Emily Merklen, MS, RDN All Access Dietetics
  • Kara Wolfe, PhD Arkansas State University
  • Amanda MB Newell, PhD, RDN, LDN Bradley University



cultural intelligence, study abroad, United States, dietetics


As the U.S. population becomes more diverse, employers are seeking individuals who can work with people of various cultures. This study sought to answer if international travel, and more specifically study abroad, impacted dietetic students’ cultural intelligence. Over 400 responses from dietetic undergraduate and graduate students were analyzed with hierarchical regression and results showed that traveling abroad, as well as length of study abroad were significantly related to the cultural intelligence of students. The lack of diversity in the profession of dietetics, coupled with our growing global world, demonstrates the need for educators and administrators to ensure dietetic professionals are positioned to meet the diverse needs of their patients and clients.

Abstract in Spanish

A medida que la población de los Estados Unidos se vuelve más diversa, los empleadores buscan personas que puedan trabajar con personas de diversas culturas. Este estudio buscó responder si los viajes internacionales, y más específicamente los estudios en el extranjero, impactaron en la inteligencia cultural de los estudiantes de dietética. Se analizaron más de 400 respuestas de estudiantes de pregrado y posgrado en dietética con regresión jerárquica y los resultados mostraron que viajar al extranjero, así como la duración de los estudios en el extranjero, estaban significativamente relacionados con la inteligencia cultural de los estudiantes. La falta de diversidad en la profesión de la dietética, junto con nuestro creciente mundo global, demuestra la necesidad de que los educadores y administradores garanticen que los profesionales de la dietética estén posicionados para satisfacer las diversas necesidades de sus pacientes y clientes.


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Author Biographies

Emily Merklen, MS, RDN, All Access Dietetics

Emily Merklen received her B.S. in Dietetics from the University of Delaware her M.S. in Nutrition and Wellness at Bradley University. She has worked in nutrition communications and marketing at various companies, including All Access Dietetics, Nutritious Life, Empowered Education, and interests include study abroad, cultural competence and intelligence, and global health.

Kara Wolfe, PhD, Arkansas State University

Kara Wolfe completed her Ph.D. at Kansas State University. She has worked at Hong Kong Polytechnic University, North Dakota State University, and Bradley University. She has a taught a variety of classes using high-impact practices including study abroad. With over 20 years of experience in teaching in hospitality and tourism at a variety of schools, her research interests lie in the area of the scholarship of teaching and learning (SoTL).

Amanda MB Newell, PhD, RDN, LDN, Bradley University

Amanda Newell is an assistant professor and the founding director of the graduate dietetic program at Bradley University. She is an advocate for study abroad and has included a study abroad option for students since the inception of the program. Her research interests are in cultural competence, cultural intelligence, and humility, as well as dietetic education, including interprofessional education.


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How to Cite

Merklen, E., Wolfe, K., & Newell, A. (2023). Does Length of Study Abroad Impact Cultural Intelligence of Dietetics Students?. Frontiers: The Interdisciplinary Journal of Study Abroad, 35(1), 209–223.



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