How’s your CQ?: Effect of Study Abroad and Classroom-based Cultural Experiences on Cultural Intelligence Levels in Traditional Students


  • Abbi-Storm McCann Auburn University
  • Lindsay Tan Auburn University
  • Kate Thornton Auburn University



Cultural intelligence, cultural intelligence survey, study abroad, program assessment


This research assessed the impact of study abroad and classroom-based cultural experiences on traditional college students’ cultural intelligence (CQ) levels, as measured through the standardized Cultural Intelligence Survey. Data from students participating in cultural experiences were collected using the Cultural Intelligence Scale (CQS). The hypotheses were tested using a pre-test/post-test research design and a non-randomized sample (quasi-experimental). The results were initially analyzed using descriptive statistics to report mean average and standard deviation scores before and after each cultural experience. A second round of analysis was performed to provide a deeper understanding of CQ scores at the dimension level. A closer analysis of the data raised some questions about best practices in assessing cultural experiences that contribute to the discussion and growing body of research regarding cultural intelligence literature. Overall, the findings from this research support the value of cultural experiences in raising CQ levels among traditional college students.


Abstract in Spanish

Esta investigación evaluó el impacto de estudiar en el extranjero y las experiencias culturales en el aula en los niveles de inteligencia cultural (CQ) de los estudiantes universitarios tradicionales, medidos a través de la Encuesta de Inteligencia Cultural estandarizada. Los datos de los estudiantes que participaron en experiencias culturales se recolectaron utilizando la Escala de Inteligencia Cultural (CQS). Las hipótesis se probaron utilizando un diseño de investigación pre-test/post-test y una muestra no aleatorizada (cuasi-experimental). Los resultados se analizaron inicialmente utilizando estadística descriptiva para reportar la media promedio y la desviación estándar antes y después de cada experiencia cultural. Se realizó una segunda ronda de análisis para proporcionar una comprensión más profunda de los puntajes de CQ a nivel de dimensión. Un análisis más exhaustivo de los datos planteó algunas preguntas sobre las mejores prácticas en la evaluación de las experiencias culturales que contribuyen a la discusión y al creciente cuerpo de investigación sobre la literatura de inteligencia cultural. En general, los hallazgos de esta investigación respaldan el valor de las experiencias culturales para elevar los niveles de CQ entre los estudiantes universitarios tradicionales.


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Author Biographies

Abbi-Storm McCann, Auburn University

Abbi-Storm McCann explores the worlds of consumer behavior, Cultural Intelligence, assessment, and how of those topics interconnect. She has earned certifications in higher education teaching, Culture Bump, and Cultural Intelligence.

Lindsay Tan, Auburn University

Lindsay Tan Lindsay Tan is a design ecologist who provides an immersive look at the extraordinary power of design in everyday life, in the headlines, and at the heart of our most pressing global challenges.

Kate Thornton, Auburn University

Mary Katherine Thornton serves as the Director of International Outreach at the Hunger Solutions Institute and the Director of Global Education in the College of Human Sciences at Auburn University. She has a varied background ranging from business to biochemistry and has a passion to connect students with scholars and mentors across various fields to develop sustainable solutions to major global challenges, particularly hunger.


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How to Cite

Abbi-Storm McCann, Tan, L., & Thornton, K. . (2023). How’s your CQ?: Effect of Study Abroad and Classroom-based Cultural Experiences on Cultural Intelligence Levels in Traditional Students. Frontiers: The Interdisciplinary Journal of Study Abroad, 35(1), 115–151.



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