A Global Interdisciplinary Service-Learning Project to Develop Cultural Humility in Educators of Children with Autism and Developmental Disabilities


  • Amy J. Rose Western Carolina University
  • Karena Cooper-Duffy Western Carolina University
  • Bontle Pauline Molefe Botswana Society for the Deaf




global interdisciplinary service-learning, cultural humility, special education, speech-language pathology


A four-week global interdisciplinary service-learning project to Botswana, Africa was developed to increase cultural humility and cross cultural communication skills in 12 current and future educators of children with autism and developmental disabilities. Participants worked alongside peer educators in eight different special education units across different regions of Botswana to create curricular activities that can be used in classrooms in both countries. Instruction in Botswana education, culture, language, history, and traditions was provided along with immersion in daily Botswana life. The present study examines the impact of these experiences on participant growth of cultural humility and cross-cultural communication skills. Results indicated increases in cultural humility for all participants, with the greatest increases for the stages of integration and intercultural communication. Individual growth varied based on factors such as previous experiences, chronological age, and flexibility. In this paper, we discuss details of the project, results, limitations, and implications for practice.

Abstract in Setswana

Lenaneo la beke tse nne go ya Botswana, le le akaretsang mafatshefatshe, ebile ele la dikitso tse di farologanyeng, le ne la bopiwa go oketsa kitso ka ngwao ya Setswana le ka ha go buisanwang ka teng mo ngwaong. Kitso tse tsa ngwao, di ne di itebagantse le barutabana bale lesome le bobedi. Barutabana ba, ene ele ba jaanong le ba isago, ba ruta bana ba ba nang le autism le bogole jo bo farologaneng. Batsaya karolo ba ne ba bereka le barutabana mo makalaneng a a farologanyeng a le boroba bobedi ko Botswana, a a lebaganeng le dithuto tsa autism le bana ba ba nang le bogole. Ba dira jaana go bopa ditsamaiso tsa thuto tse di ka dirisiwang mo dikolong tsa mafatshe oo mabedi. Batsaya karolo ba ne ba tlhatlhelelwa ka tsamaiso ya thuto, ngwao, puo, ditso le tumelo mo Botswana, le gore di amana jang le matshelo a Batswana a tsatsi le letsatsi. Dipatlisiso tse di leka go kala maduo a phetogo maikutlo a batsaakarolo mo go godiseng kitso ka ngwao le dipuisano ka yone mo Botswana. Maduo a dipatlisiso a supile fa barutabana ba nnile le kgolo mo go tlhaloganyeng ngwao, go gola mo go tona e nnile go tlhaloganya dingwao tsa mafatshe ka bobedi. Se se raya gore lenaneo le, le nnile botlhokwa thata mo go bone. Go gola ga barutabana ka bongwe ka bongwe go ne go ikaegile thata ka maitemogelo a bone pele ga ba ya Botswana, dingwaga tsa bone le ka ha ba amogelang diemo tse di farologanyeng ka teng. Mo mokwalong o, re ala ka botlalo ka ha lenaneo le tsamaileng ka teng, maduo le ditlhaelo/dikgwetlho le ka fa lenaneo le ka dirisiwang ka teng go ya pele.


Download data is not yet available.

Author Biographies

Amy J. Rose, Western Carolina University

Dr. Amy J. Rose is an Associate Professor of Communication Sciences and Disorders at Western Carolina University. She has over 30 years of clinical experience serving children and adults with communication disorders. Her teaching and research interests include social skills and friendship development in individuals with autism spectrum disorders and developmental disabilities. Additional interests include implementation of competency-based educational strategies; development of interprofessional collaboration in higher education; and international service learning, most recently in Botswana.

Karena Cooper-Duffy, Western Carolina University

Dr. Karena Cooper-Duffy is a Full Professor and coordinator of the graduate special education program at Western Carolina University. She has been teaching at the university for 20 years and specializes in teaching students with significant intellectual disabilities, multiple disabilities, autism, and team building with families who have children with disabilities. Her research is practitioner friendly and includes strategies on how to implement current research-based strategies to instruct students with severe intellectual disabilities.

Bontle Pauline Molefe, Botswana Society for the Deaf

Bontle Pauline Molefe is the Former Director of Special Support Services Department, Ministry of Basic Education in Botswana; Chairperson of Botswana Society for the Deaf; and member of Southern African Association for Learning and Educational Differences (SAALED). She has also worked as curriculum developer and also with teachers of both primary and secondary schools.


Bagwasi, M. (2003) The Functional Distribution of Setswana and English in Botswana, Language, Culture and Curriculum, 16(2), 212-217, https://doi.org/10.1080/07908310308666669

Bennett, M. J. (2004). Becoming interculturally competent. In J.S. Wurzel (Ed.), Toward Multiculturalism: A Reader in Multicultural Education. Intercultural Resource Corporation.

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

Botswana Government. (1994). Revised National Policy on Education. Government Paper No. 2 of 1994, Government Printer, Gaborone.

Botswana International Travel Information. (2022). Travel.state.gov., U.S. Department of State. https://travel.state.gov/content/travel/en/international-travel/International-Travel-Country-Information-Pages/Botswana.html

Worldometer. (n.d.). Botswana Population. https://www.worldometers.info/world-population/botswana-population/

Brownell, M. T., Steinbrecher, T., Kimerling, J., Park, Y., & Bae, J. (2014). Dimensions of teacher quality in general and special education. In Handbook of research on special education teacher preparation (pp. 451-472). Routledge.

CDC. (2020). Autism and Developmental Disabilities Monitoring (ADDM) Network | CDC. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. https://www.cdc.gov/ncbddd/autism/addm.html#:~:text=CDC%20estimates%20that%20about%201

Charmaz, K. (2009). Shifting the grounds: Constructivist grounded theory methods. In Developing grounded theory: The second generation (127-154). Routledge. http://dx.doi.org/10.4324/9781315430577

Cross, T., Bazron, B., Dennis, K., & Isaacs, M. (1989). Towards a culturally competent system of care (Vol. 1). Georgetown University Child Development Center.

Denbow, J. R., & Thebe, P. C. (2006). Culture and customs of Botswana. Greenwood Publishing Group.

Dettmer, P., Thurston, L. P., Knackendoffel, A., & Dyck, N. J. (2009). Collaboration, consultation, and teamwork for students with special needs (6th ed.). Pearson.

Easy Languages. (2008, July 31). Setswana - Dumela -Blackboard Project [Video]. YouTube. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1niRGxat1rU

Hartman, E., & Kiely, R. (2014). Pushing Boundaries: Introduction to the Global Service-Learning Special Section. Michigan Journal of Community Service Learning, 21(1), 55-63.

Holdheide, L. (2013). Inclusive Design: Building Educator Evaluation Systems That Support Students with Disabilities. Special Issues Brief. Center on Great Teachers and Leaders.

Hunt, L. M. (2019). Beyond cultural competence: Applying humility to clinical settings. In The Social Medicine Reader, Vol. II, (3rd ed.) (pp. 127-131). Duke University Press. https://doi.org/10.1515/9781478004363-020

Individuals with Disabilities Education Act of 2004. 20 U. S. C. §1400 et seq. (2004).

Jones, N. D., & Brownell, M. T. (2014). Examining the Use of Classroom Observations in the Evaluation of Special Education Teachers. Assessment for Effective Intervention, 39(2), 112–124. https://doi.org/10.1177/1534508413514103

Kea, C. D., & Utley, C. A. (1998). To teach me is to know me. The Journal of Special Education, 32(1), 44-47. https://doi.org/10.1177/002246699803200108

Kolb, D. A. (1984) Experiential Learning: Experience as the Source of Learning and Development. Prentice-Hall.

Kools, S., Chimwaza, A., & Macha, S. (2015). Cultural humility and working with marginalized populations in developing countries. Global health promotion, 22(1), 52-59. https://doi.org/10.1177/17579759145287

Kuh, G. D. (2008). High-impact educational practices: What they are, who has access to them, and why they matter. Association of American Colleges and Universities.

Kuh, G., O'Donnell, K., & Schneider, C. G. (2017). HIPs at ten. Change: The Magazine of Higher Learning, 49(5), 8-16. https://doi.org/10.1080/00091383.2017.1366805

Lotterine-Kokabi, N. (2019). Autism- Be aware. Be understanding: Your Botswana: https://yourbotswana.com/2019/04/14/autism-be-aware-be-understanding/

Lough, B., & Tom, C. (2017). Global service-learning in institutions of higher education: Concerns from a community of practice. Globalisation, Societies and Education, 16(1), 66-77. https://doi.org/10.1080/14767724.2017.1356705

Mangope, B., Otukile-Mongwaketse, M., Dinama, B., & Kuyini, A. B. (2018). Teaching Practice Experiences in Inclusive Classrooms: The Voices of University of Botswana Special Education Student Teachers. International Journal of Whole Schooling, 14(1), 57-92.

Masimolole, P. (2011). MoESD Inclusive Education Policy. UNESCO. https://unevoc.unesco.org/e-forum/moesd_inclusive-education-policy.pdf

Mitchell, T. D. (2008). Traditional vs. critical service-learning: Engaging the literature to differentiate two models. Michigan Journal of Community Service Learning, 14(2), 50-65.

Mohtar, R. H., & Dare, A. E. (2012). Global design team: A global service-learning experience. International Journal of Engineering Education, 28(1), 169.

Morris, T. H. (2020). Experiential learning – a systematic review and revision of Kolb’s model. Interactive Learning Environments, 28(8), 1–14. https://doi.org/10.1080/10494820.2019.1570279

Nickols, S. Y., Rothenberg, N. J., Moshi, L., & Tetloff, M. (2013). International service- learning: Students' personal challenges and intercultural competence. Journal of Higher Education Outreach and Engagement, 17(4), 97-124. https://files.eric.ed.gov/fulltext/EJ1018797.pdf

Olashore, A. A., Frank-Hatitchki, B., & Ogunwobi, O. (2017). Diagnostic profiles and predictors of treatment outcome among children and adolescents attending a national psychiatric hospital in Botswana. Child and Adolescent Psychiatry and Mental Health, 11(1). https://doi.org/10.1186/s13034-017-0144-9

Olson, C., & Kroeger, K. R. (2001). Global competency and intercultural sensitivity. Journal of studies in international education, 5(2), 116- 137. https://doi.org/10.1177/102831530152

Page, C. (2021). Pathways of Intercultural Development. Foundations of Intercultural Teaching. https://kpu.pressbooks.pub/foundationsofinterculturalteaching/chapter/pathways-of-intercultural-development/

Paine, D. R., Jankowski, P. J., & Sandage, S. J. (2016). Humility as a predictor of intercultural competence: Mediator effects for differentiation-of-self. The Family Journal, 24(1), 15-22. https://doi.org/10.1177/10664807156156

Putman, M. & Byker, E. (2021). Using global citizenship 1-2-3 and study abroad to prepare global –ready educators. In Baecher, L. (Ed.), Study Abroad for Pre-and In-Service Teachers (pp. 18-30). Routledge. https://doi.org/10.4324/9781003004387

Rhodes, T & Finley, A. (2013). Using the VALUE rubrics for improvement of learning and authentic assessment. Association of American Colleges and Universities. https://commission.fiu.edu/helpful-documents/competency-based-courses-degrees/using-the-value-rubrics-for-improvement.pdf

Rogers-Adkinson, D. L., Ochoa, T. A., & Delgado, B. (2003). Developing cross-cultural competence: Serving families of children with significant developmental needs. Focus on Autism and Other Developmental Disabilities, 18(1), 4-8. https://doi.org/10.1177/10883576030180010

Rose, A., Snyder, M., Murphy-Nugen, A., Maddox, G., MacKusick, C. I., & Molefe, B. (2021). Cultivating Cross-Cultural Learning and Collaboration Among Special Educators Engaged in International Service-Learning. International Journal of Research on Service-Learning and Community Engagement, 9(1), 31307. https://doi.org/10.37333/001c.31307

Rose, A. J., & Cooper-Duffy, K. (2021). Implementation of an Interprofessional Study Abroad Experience in Botswana for Special Educators and Speech-Language Pathologists. In Baecher, L. (Ed.), Study Abroad for Pre-and In-Service Teachers (pp. 146-165). Routledge. https://doi.org/10.4324/9781003004387

Shadish, W. R., Cook, T. D., & Campbell, D. T. (2002). Experimental and quasi-experimental designs for generalized causal inference. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.

Siphambe, H. K. (2000). Rates of return to education in Botswana. Economics of Education Review, 19(3), 291-300. https://doi.org/10.1016/S0272-7757(99)00042-4

Sugarman, L. (1985). Kolb's model of experiential learning: Touchstone for trainers, students, counselors, and clients. Journal of Counseling & Development. https://doi.org/10.1002/j.1556-6676.1985.tb01097.x

Taylor, R. W. (2010). The Role of Teacher Education Programs in Creating Culturally Competent Teachers: A Moral Imperative for Ensuring the Academic Success of Diverse Student Populations. Multicultural Education, 17(3), 24-28.

Tervalon, M., & Murray-Garcia, J. (1998). Cultural humility versus cultural competence: A critical distinction in defining physician training outcomes in multicultural education. Journal of health care for the poor and underserved, 9(2), 117-125. https://doi.org/10.1353/hpu.2010.0233

The IRIS Center. (2009). Universal Design for Learning: Creating a learning environment that challenges and engages all students. https://iris.peabody.vanderbilt.edu/udl/

UNICEF. (2021). Nearly 240 million children with disabilities around the world, UNICEF’s most comprehensive statistical analysis finds. www.unicef.org. https://www.unicef.org/press-releases/nearly-240-million-children-disabilities-around-world-unicefs-most-comprehensive

Watson, C. E., Kuh, G. D., Rhodes, T., Light, T. P., & Chen, H. L. (2016). ePortfolios–The eleventh high impact practice. International Journal, 6(2), 65-69.

What Are the Symptoms of Autism? (n.d.). Autism Speaks. https://www.autismspeaks.org/what-are-symptoms-autism

Woodland, R. (2021). Design principles for international teacher study abroad programs. In Baecher, L. (Ed.), Study Abroad for Pre-and In-Service Teachers (pp. 71-80). Routledge. https://doi.org/10.4324/9781003004387

World Health Organization (2019). Autism spectrum disorders. www.who.int. https://www.who.int/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/autism-spectrum-disorders#:~:text=It%20is%20estimated%20that%20worldwide

Zeliadt, N. (2017). Why autism remains hidden in Africa. Spectrum. https://www.spectrumnews.org/features/deep-dive/autism-remains-hidden-africa/




How to Cite

Rose, A. J., Cooper-Duffy, K., & Molefe, B. P. (2023). A Global Interdisciplinary Service-Learning Project to Develop Cultural Humility in Educators of Children with Autism and Developmental Disabilities. Frontiers: The Interdisciplinary Journal of Study Abroad, 35(1), 82–114. https://doi.org/10.36366/frontiers.v35i1.720



Research Articles