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Intercultural sensitivity in cross-cultural settings: The case of university students in Italy and Greece



Cosmopolitanization of modern life, meaning the mixing of people from diverse cultural backgrounds (Beck, 2009), has set new sensible and more sophisticated standards for effective communication and collaborative learning. Intercultural competence is regarded as an important intangible assett for those living and working in pluralistic democratic societies. However, the international debate on the concept of intercultural competences is increasingly growing possessing a prominent role in defining global citizenship. A myriad of terms have been used in literature to define the concept, including global competence, global citizenship, cross-cultural competence, international competence, intercultural effectiveness, intercultural sensitivity. As argued by various authors, intercultural competence must be intentionally reflexively and critically addressed, in teaching and learning as it is a lifelong process. This refers to the importance of a culturally responsive and educational processes and reflexive pedagogy (Kalantzis & Cope, 2012). In this context, critical reflection on intercultural competence becomes a powerful tool in the process of teachers’ self-awareness and it can help in the definition of new educational and curriculum goals. The importance of intercultural competence, namely “the ability to develop targeted knowledge, skills and attitudes that lead to visible behavior and communication that are both effective and appropriate in intercultural interactions” (Deardorff, 2006 & 2009) is evident in effective collaboration and dialogue in culturally diverse classrooms and contemporary societies. The analysis and assessment of these competences could enable knowledge professionals and schools to reflect on the generic value of diversity and to orient training towards the achievement of specific knowledge, skills and attitudes. This paper, focusses on intercultural sensitivity. Chen and Starosta’s model (2000) of intercultural communication competence identify three main dimensions: intercultural awareness, intercultural sensitivity and intercultural adroitness, with a set of different components. Intercultural sensitivity has been regarded as a prerequisite for achieving intercultural competence (Chen and Starosta, 2000) and as a crucial attribute to enable people to become successful global citizens. The researchers in this paper attempt to measure and compare the intercultural sensitivity of a group of students from two public universities in Greece and Italy, using the Intercultural Sensitivity Scale (ISS) developed by Chen and Starosta (2000). ISS is often used to assess outcomes of internationalization and also for the analysis of multi/intercultural schools in an inclusive society; it provides a more specific meaning of “intercultural competence”, as well as some suggestions regarding the assessment of student’s intercultural competences. This study is based on a survey of 350 male and female students, namely preservice primary and secondary teachers from the Department of Education and Human Sciences (University of Modena & Reggio Emilia, Italy) and the Department of Educational Sciences and Early Childhood Education (University of Patras, Greece). Data was collected on March and April 2016, through the administration of the 24-item scale of Intercultural Sensitivity Scale (ISS), developed by Chen and Starosta (2000) and further adapted into the Greek and Italian context. A confirmatory factor analysis (CFA) was conducted and the ISS five-factor model was confirmed. Exploratory factor analyses with Varimax rotation were also conducted in order to check for alternative outputs. In both cases, five factors were extracted partly confirming Chen and Starosta’s model, because each factor loadings differed from those addressed to the aforementioned model and then some construct interpretations had to be reorganized. Finally, ISS scores were compared to participants’ demographic factors to ascertain correlations affecting their performances on intercultural sensitivity. The results of this survey constitute an important reference for pre-service teacher education and curriculum design framework in both universities.
1. Introduction
Cosmopolitanization of modern life (Beck 2009), meaning the mixing of people from diverse
cultural backgrounds, has set new sensible and more sophisticated standards for effective intercultural
communication, reflexive dialogue and collaborative learning. Modern people are required to
undertake a reflexive project (Giddens 1991), namely to build up their own diverse biographies
(multiple identities and life-style cultures). They also have to assume more responsibility towards
making choices to engage in intercultural learning experiences. An important quality towards this is
one’s rethinking/ re-evaluation of own experiences and assumptions to determine whether these remain
functional in a globalized context. Reflexivity and engagement allow people to enter into a journey of
transformative learning and belongingness.
In this context, intercultural teacher education becomes more important. Modern teachers are
required to be highly tolerant, inclusive and culturally responsive practitioners. This means that they
must be self-aware and reflexive of their own biases, demonstrate intercultural competence and
responsiveness as well as be willing to develop a multi-faceted global, historical, and cultural
perspective about embracing differences. It is fundamental for teachers to realize the potential risks of
a) adopting a monocultural, ethnocentric and culturally-biased perspective when dealing with student
diversity and b) realizing the detrimental effect this may have on students’ achievements and well-
being (Gay 2010).
Indeed, intercultural competence is emerging as foundational to 21st century skills and it is regarded
as an important intangible asset for those living and working in pluralistic democratic societies.
Obtaining an intercultural competence is a lifelong process closely associated with one’s formal and
informal intercultural experiences and contacts. In Higher Education (HE) context, students’
intercultural learning is often assessed in study abroad programs (Hammer 2012; Deardorff 2013),
although intercultural competences concern all students. A myriad of terms has been used in literature
to define this concept, including global competence, global citizenship, cross-cultural competence,
international competence, intercultural effectiveness and intercultural sensitivity (Deardorff 2011).
However, there is a growing consensus on the definition of intercultural competence as the “ability to
communicate effectively and appropriately in intercultural situations based on one’s intercultural
knowledge, skills, and attitudes” (Deardorff 2006, 249).
Furthermore, intercultural sensitivity has been regarded as a prerequisite for achieving intercultural
competence (Chen and Starosta 2000) and a crucial attribute to enable people to become successful
global citizens. This study focusses on intercultural sensitivity of students from two public universities
in Greece and Italy, using the Intercultural Sensitivity Scale (ISS) developed by Chen and Starosta
(2000) and assess the model’s validity. A survey of 350 pre-service teachers was conducted at the
Department of Education and Human Sciences (University of Modena & Reggio Emilia, Italy) and the
Department of Educational Sciences and Early Childhood Education (University of Patras, Greece).
The purpose of the study was to empirically replicate Chen and Starosta’s Intercultural Sensitivity
Scale to see if it was valid to Italian and Greek contexts. The findings of this survey would be
important reference for pre-service teacher education and curriculum design framework in both
universities. This is timely as both countries have received a massive number of refugees and the
citizens' sensitivity to reception is experiencing a tough season. Therefore, educational and social
professionals are at the forefront and the possession of intercultural competence becomes an actual
need. Intercultural Sensitivity (IS) in education appears necessary to investigate before any curriculum
decisions are to be taken.
1This chapter is the outcome of a highly cooperative effort by the three authors. However, for the specific
concerns of the Italian academia, we state that Eugenia Arvantis wrote sections 2,3,4,5, Rita Bertozzi section 1 and
Remos Armaos section 4.
Moreover, in the last years, internationalization of curriculum in HE has been oriented towards
interculturally competent graduates. This is particularly important when preparing future teachers.
Proper and rigorous assessment of intercultural competence could enable knowledge professionals to
critically reflect on the generic value of diversity and to obtain specific affective, cognitive, behavioral
and moral dimensions of such competence.
2. The notion of intercultural sensitivity
Intercultural sensitivity is crucial in a globalized context. Global interconnectness (due to
international business, travel, social media) means that an increasing number of people will need to
live and work with culturally distinct others as well as to be aware of and adapt to cultural differences.
They also must learn to be interdependent demonstrating reciprocity and mutuality in order to build
harmonious relationships. In the globalizing society intercultural adaptability and communication
competence become indispensable for a peaceful and successful survival.
Similarly, the acquisition of intercultural communication competence is crucial for the teaching
profession. For HE this means that preservice teachers need to possess intercultural awareness
(cognitive aspect-knowledge), intercultural adroitness (the behavioral aspect-skills), and intercultural
sensitivity (affective aspect-attitudes) (Chen and Starosta 1998). The affective aspect of intercultural
communication competence connects awareness with skills. It is also well-acknowledged amongst
scholars, as a predictor of intercultural communication competence. Intercultural sensitivity is
represented by a set of attitudes, which enable teachers to actively “desire to motivate themselves to
understand, appreciate, and accept differences among cultures” (Chen and Starosta 1997, 11). Thus,
intercultural sensitivity can be defined as teachers’ ability to be interested in other cultures as well as to
be sensitive in noticing cultural differences, to empathize with the views of people from other cultures
and be willing to modify their behavior to sustain effective communication.
Bennett (1986) elaborated the notion of intercultural sensitivity based on a conceptual framework
that it was composed of six distinguishable personal characteristics: self-esteem, self-monitoring,
empathy, open-mindedness, interaction involvement and suspending judgment. He supported that
intercultural sensitivity transforms people affectively, cognitively, and behaviorally in a developmental
process of six intercultural communication stages, that of denial, defense, minimizing, acceptance,
adaptation, and integration of cultural difference. In other words, intercultural sensitive people can
gradually accept and adapt to cultural differences by confronting their denial and building a more
complex and sophisticated framework of inclusive attitudes. This linear continuum of developmental
stages led to the development of two effective instruments: The Intercultural Development Inventory
(IDI) developed by Hammer, Bennett and Wiseman (2003) and the Intercultural Sensitivity Scale (ISS)
developed by Chen and Starosta (2000). Both instruments have been used in the HE context.
Chen and Starosta (2000) tested Bennett’s six distinct personal characteristics to American students,
asserting that individuals who possess them will attain greater levels of intercultural sensitivity. Twenty
four items were extracted from the results of an exploratory factor analysis (EFA) developing a valid
and acceptable intercultural sensitivity scale (ISS) based on five factors:
1. Intercultural Engagement;
2. Respect for Cultural Differences;
3. Interaction Confidence;
4. Interaction Enjoyment; and
5. Interaction Attentiveness.
The concurrent validity of the ISS was evaluated against several valid instruments and the results
turned out to be satisfactory (Wu 2015). This tool has been often used to assess outcomes of
internationalized curricula and to analyze multi/intercultural schools. It provides both a more specific
meaning of “intercultural competence” and some suggestions regarding the assessment of student’s
emotional dimension of it.
The literature review shows different studies using the ISS to measure intercultural sensitivity level.
For instance, research findings have shown that English proficiency is positively correlated to Chinese
learners’ intercultural sensitivity, especially in the aspects of engagement and respect for cultural
differences (Wang and Huang 2013). Thus, “people are willing to engage in intercultural interaction
when they can communicate with people in other cultures fluently in English” (Wang and Huang 2013,
325). In addition, peoples’ respect to other cultures is higher when they know more about them. Other
factors affecting intercultural sensitivity are found to be cultural education, experiences of interacting
with other cultures, experiences of living abroad and desire to study abroad (Huang 2013).
However, there is an ongoing discussion among scholars whether ISS is a generic or culture-free
model, even though it was validated with American and German students (Chen and Starosta 2000;
Fritz et al. 2005; West 2009). This was the case, particularly, for non-western countries, such as
Taiwan, Georgia and Malaysia (Tamam 2010; Tsereteli and Gedevanishvili 2011; Wu 2015) when
confirmatory factor analysis (CFA) was deployed. It became apparent that cultural preferences,
specificities and attributes contributed to the determination of how concepts such as interaction
attentiveness and cultural respect were perceived by participants (Wu 2015). Looking at these studies,
one may conclude that the instrument is not a culture-free scale for measuring intercultural sensitivity
and it has to be tested with different population in order to understand intercultural sensitivity in
different cultural contexts.
3. Methodology of the research
This study takes as reference the Chen and Starosta’s 24-item Intercultural Sensitivity Scale (2000).
The aim of the study is to compare the intercultural sensitivity scores of two groups of students in Italy
and Greece and to explore potential differentiation of five elements of intercultural sensitivity based on
gender, educational and social experiences. Data was collected between March and April 2016, through
the electronic administration of the tool (Survey monkey).
Participants responded on questions that touch upon the Chen and Starosta’s five aspects of
measuring intercultural sensitivity: interaction engagement (questions 1, 11, 13, 21, 22, 23 & 24),
interaction confidence (questions 3, 4, 5, 6 & 10), interaction attentiveness (questions 14, 17, 19),
interaction enjoyment (questions 9, 12, 15) and respect for cultural difference (questions 2, 7, 8, 16, 18,
20). Finally, participants were asked to reply to personal information questions consisting of gender,
university/department, year of studies, nationality, study abroad and travelling abroad experiences,
certified second language proficiency, communication with relatives and friends abroad and desire to
work/study abroad. A five-point Likert scale was used (5=strongly agree, 4=agree, 3=uncertain,
2=disagree, and 1=strongly disagree). Higher scores on each aspect are suggestive of greater sensitivity
to intercultural differences. The ISS was translated into participants' native language (Greek and
Italian) by two highly proficient professors and also verified by other translators to increase reliability.
Reliability analysis was performed and Cronbach’s Alpha coefficient for the 24 items was .853
indicating high internal consistency between the set of all items. To check for unidimensionality,
further factor analyses were performed.
3.1. Participants
Participants were comprised of 350 female (N=334; 95,4%) and male (N=16; 4,6%) students. They
were pre-service primary and secondary teachers, from the Department of Educational Sciences and
Early Childhood Education (University of Patras, Greece) (N=166), as well as the Department of
Education and Human Sciences (University of Modena & Reggio Emilia, Italy (N=184). Half of them
were Italians (N= 179; 51,1%) and 45,1% were Greeks (N=158) with an extremely limited percentage
(3,5%) coming from diverse citizenships, i.e. Greek Cypriots, Albanians, Nigerians, Indians, Kosovars
and Romanians. They were mainly 1st year students (N=302; 86,3%). The remaining students who took
part in the survey were 2nd year (N=17; 4,9%), 4th year (N=16; 4,6%) and the rest of them 3rd and 5th
Almost three quarters (73,1%) of the students had travelled abroad and 60% of them used to
communicate with friends and family abroad. It seems that in the Greek and Italian context 1 st year
students enter the university with some informal intercultural exposure mainly through overseas travel
and communication with familiar others such as relatives/friends who live abroad (Fig.3-1).
[Figure 3-1 here]
On the other hand, 64,3% of students were expose to some formal intercultural learning mainly
through the certified second language knowledge, but at this stage we cannot ascertain the level and
depth of language learning as well as its impact in fostering vivid intercultural interaction. The vast
majority of students (90,6%) had no prior experience in studying abroad and only 55,1% declared a
desire to work or study abroad.
4. Findings: Intercultural Sensitivity exploratory factor analysis
A two-part measurement was deployed to understand intercultural sensitivity (IS) across Greek and
Italian HE students: a) IS Scale self-report supplemented by sociodemographic data; and b)
Exploratory factor analysis (EFA) to identify factors.
Among the main objectives of the study were to investigate whether Chen and Starosta’s model of
IS fitted well with the Greek and Italian students. An exploratory factor analysis with Varimax and
Kaiser Normalisation rotation was conducted and five factors were still extracted. Although five
factors were indeed extracted, these did not fully reflect on Chen and Starosta’s categorisation and
labelling of factors. Variations in item loadings applied in our data while cut-off points of .3 and .4
were applied across all indicators. Bartlett’s test of sphericity (χ2=2100, df= 276, p=.000) and the
Kaiser-Meyer-Olkin (KMO) measure of sampling adequacy (KMO=.878, has to be >.0.6) suggested
that the data were suitable for factor analysis. With the extraction methods of Principal component
analysis PCA, the five-factor model with eigenvalues greater than one and above was confirmed.
Looking at the initial communalities table, correlations showed that multicollinearity was basically not
a problem (SMC<.90 or SMC>.10). According to screen plot and total variance table, the five-factor
model explained 50.54% of variance suggesting that the model fitted quite well with the data. All
items, after rotation process, loaded well across all five factors. In specific, nine items loaded on Factor
1, with eigenvalues of 6,042 (the percentage of variance explained by this factor was 25,173%), four
items loaded on Factor 2 with eigenvalues of 2,194 (the percentage of variance explained by this factor
was 9,141%), four item loaded on Factor 3 with eigenvalues of 1,522 (the percentage of variance
explained by this factor was 6,341%), three items loaded on Factor 4 with eigenvalues of 1,240 (the
percentage of variance explained by this factor was 5,168%) and, finally, four items loaded on Factor 5
with eigenvalues of 1,134 (the percentage of variance explained by this factor was 4,725%). All item
loadings on above factors partly coincided with Chen and Starosta’ five-factor model of IS. In specific,
the construct of Interaction Confidence and the construct of Interaction Attentiveness proved to
confirm the existing theory where all preassigned item loadings were included in the new factor, with
little variations. The remaining three new factors varied in item composition. Chen and Starosta’s
Interaction Engagement construct, consisted of 7 items, has not been confirmed. In fact, 3 of those
items developed now a new independent construct (q 21, 23 and 24) while the remaining ones were
scattered across the other three new constructs prompting for a reorganizing of construct
The newly built constructs are provided below:
a) Construct of Respect of Cultural Differences and Open-mindness (factor A)
There were 9 items included in this construct which highlights the degree interlocutors realize,
accept and respect cultural differences of others as well as cultural disposition/outlook. Analysis
showed that four of the factor loadings were far above .05 while the remaining three item loadings
ranged from .04 to .05 indicating that all loading were acceptable. This construct basically comprises
elements that indicate an open attitude towards people from other cultures (q1 and q13) as well as all
items addressed in Chen & Starosta’s ‘Respect for Cultural Differences’ construct (q2, q7, q8, q16,
q18, q20), supplemented by q9.
b) Construct of Relational Self-concept (factor B)
There were 4 items included in the construct of relational self-concept (Dai & Chen, 2015) (factor
B). Analysis revealed that all item loadings were acceptable (above .05). The new factor comprises two
of the Chen & Starosta’s items (i.e. q12 and q15) revealing the level of delight during intercultural
interaction supplemented by two more items (q4 and q22), which stresses self-consciousness during
interaction. This factor identifies the level of interdependency during interaction, namely the successful
penetration of personal boundaries to develop intercultural relationships. It captures interconnectness
and personal significance through relational learning and interaction.
c) Construct of Interaction Confidence (factor C)
There were 4 items included in this construct revealing how confident the interlocutors perform
during intercultural interaction. In fact, 4 out of 5 Chen and Starosta’s model of Interaction Confidence
comprised the newly developed construct (q3, q5, q6, & q10). Analysis revealed that all item loadings
were acceptable.
d) Construct of Interaction Responsiveness (factor D)
Three items comprised this construct of Interaction Responsiveness. Comparing with Chen and
Starosta’s model, the current three items (q21, q23 and q24) appeared to be grouped together and
reflect the positive interaction responsiveness and easiness to engage. Analysis revealed that all item
loadings were acceptable.
e) Construct of Interaction Attentiveness (factor E)
Finally, four items were included in the construct of Interaction Attentiveness, namely the ability of
thoughtful and carefull consideration of communicative needs and messages during the intercultural
interaction. This time Chen and Starosta’s construct (q14, q17 & q19) appeared to be supported by an
extra item (q11), which stresses the judgement suspension during interaction.
4.1 Italian and Greek preservice teacher scores
Overall, Intercultural Sensitivity Scale score for this group of students (N=350) was 93,35
(SD=8,713) out of 120 (Fig.3-2).
[Figure 3-2 here]
This is a satisfactory outcome compared to other studies performed in Greece and elsewhere ranged
from 70 (Yurtseven and Altun, 2015) and 88,70 (Arvanitis and Sakellariou, 2014) to 92,48
(Spinthourakis et al. 2009).
Greek pre-service teachers marked an ISS Mean score of 94,39 (SD=7,743), succeeding a slightly
higher scores to the Italian student Mean scores, which were 92,42 (SD=9,428). However, no
statistically significant difference was observed between the two groups. This high level of
intercultural sensitivity could be interpreted by the fact that both Italian and Greek students are
enrolled in culturally responsive education courses at both universities, so they are potentially more
prone to welcome and respect diversity.
Statitical analysis (chi-square tests) revealed no significant differences/ correlation between ISS
scores and any of the socio demographic data. Students with a more international outlook succeded
higher Mean scores (SD between 7,378 12,515) even though these were not statistically significant
[Figure 3.3 here]
These non-significantly correlated results between intercultural sensitivity and demographic
variables coincide with measurements in Turkey (Yurtseven and Altun 2015). Demographic variables
such as the English language proficiency, contacts with relatives abroad and experiences of /desire to
study abroad were not confirmed here. These factors found to be significant for intercultural sensitivity
in a Taiwanese context (Huang 2013); when tested with Chinese and Thai nationals (Wang and Huang
2013); and for international students in Florida compared to domestic students (McMurray 2007).
Looking at the new constructs and their mean scores, we can identify in which aspect students had
great sensitivity (Table 3-1).
[Table 3-1 here]
Students managed to perform better in those individual factors related to general or ethical descriptors of
intercultural sensitivity such as open-mindness and respect of cultural differences. It was easier for them to declare
willingness to avoid ethnocentrism through cultural respect and aquisition of a broader view of the world. These
students were born and raised in multi-cultural contexts and live a “daily multiculturalism” (Wise and Velayutham
2009) that has socialized them from their early years to the importance of respecting the differences and maintaining
relations with cultural others. In addition, their future career orientation and interaction with diverse school-age
children probably sparked sensitivity to and respect for intercultural differences.
On the contrary their scores were lower on the more practical aspects of intercultural interaction, namely
confidence or responsiveness. These aspects are more related to the perception of actual personal ability / adequacy
to deal with diversity. Concrete experience, especially if contact is positive (Allport 1954), increases confidence in
interaction with people from other cultures.
This data can, thus, reveal the need to strengthen IS by offering more concrete experiences in which exercise this
skills and abilities. For example, it suggests the importance of empowering students to engage through more
internationalized experiences, coursework and field experiences at their domestic study environments and to better
reflect on their personal cultural foundations or funds of knowledge (Moll et al. 1992), appreciating diversity across
the various levels of their personal, professional and social activity. In this context, intercultural sensitivity is a
valuable disposition that will forge students’ intercultural responsiveness for their future teaching careers. On the
other hand, scaffolded experiential and work-based intercultural learning in the respective domestic environments
can trigger cultural awareness about self, other, and intercultural conditions through validation, evaluation,
adjustment, negotiation, and incongruence (Achenbach and Arthur 2002). It is through reflexive and peer
learning/interaction as well as action research and work-based approach supported by a culturally responsive
pedagogy framework (Gay 2000) that students may develop themselves a transformative paradigm for learning.
They also may develop intercultural consciousness (Karim 2003) away from culturally encapsulated and
ethnocentric world views.
5. Discussion & Concluding remarks
Teachers worldwide are ill prepared to address students’ diversity (Cummins 2007), as “most teachers teach the
same way they were taught” (Sheets 2009, p. 16). Their lack of concrete diversity pedagogy framing, effective
instructional design and differentiated teaching alienates them from their culturally distinct students (Gay 2010;
Ladson-Billings 2009). Studies show that superficial multicultural training improves teacher attitudes and
knowledge immediately after training. However, it has little or no duration and/or effect on attitudes or behavior
(Jackson 1994; Sleeter 1993). Even the antiracist information teachers receive reinforce rather than reconstruct, their
bias towards race or otherness (Dragonas 2008). The acquisition of new intercultural competence is ambivalent as
the majority of them feel comfortable with their ethnocentric views and stereotypes. The later raises some concerns
about HE intercultural curriculum design quality as diversity does not appear to be, as it should be, an inherent part
of course conceptualization (Kea et al. 2006). Tertiary intercultural courses for preservice teachers are often optional
(Perso 2012). This means that many tertiary students, especially prospective teachers, have no preparation in cultural
diversity or that even if they have acquired some intercultural knowledge this is not embedded in their overall
pedagogical philosophy. This is something that can lead to contradicting and ineffective learning. Also, student
practicums provide little hands-on experience in culturally and linguistically different settings as well as little time
for de-briefing and self-reflection (Villegas and Lucas 2002). Even when reflection is performed it is around
folkroristic aspects of diversity and rarely challenges traditional views or discusses normative and non-traditional
diversity perspectives. Then, one must ask how domestic tertiary curriculum could be transformed to help not only
preservice teachers, but all students to develop international understanding and intercultural skills? What do we do
with the vast majority of university students who are not exposed to intercultural learning and are non-mobile?
In Europe it has been made important that all universities must internationalize their curricula and include extra
curricula activities for their students “so they can benefit from internationalization and gain global competences”
(International Association of Universities 2012, 5). Culturally orientated HE curricula equip educational
professionals with sound pedagogical knowledge and intercultural responsiveness. Overall, they validate diversity as
a productive advantage to counteract inequality and prejudice. Intercultural teacher’s education, in particular, is
expected to address and provide programs for equitable, inclusive and effective education for all preservice teachers
that reflect on how international knowledge and experiences are lived by them (Knight 2004; Welikala 2011) and
impact on their intercultural sensitivity.
Taking this into consideration, it is the view of the authors that, HE curriculum designers need to focus on four
important aspects making intercultural learning experiences readily available anywhere, at any time and in many
The first aspect refers to the internationalization of HE curricula. Students will perform various roles as citizens,
employees and persons in highly globalized settings. Thus, it will be important to be able to think “locally,
nationally and globally” (Rizvi and Lingard 2010, 201). In other words, to connect positively and productively with
cultural others possessing wide international knowledge and strong intercultural skills and awareness. To this end,
HE courses need to incorporate “international, intercultural and/or global dimensions into the content of the
curriculum as well as the learning outcomes, assessment tasks, teaching methods and support services” (Leask 2015,
9). This process involves forms of education across borders and student mobility. It also means the purposeful
integration of international and intercultural dimensions into the formal and informal curriculum for all students
within domestic learning environments (Beelen and Jones 2015). The so-called Internationalization at Home, aims
at making students interculturally competent without leaving their own country for study-related purposes (Crowther
et al. 2001). This is possible through educational activities such as, working with local cultural, ethnic or religious
groups, engage domestic with international students, or exploiting diversity within the classroom and guest lectures.
Secondly, HE intercultural courses should take into account the role of intersubjectivity and interculturality. This
means that they need to offer learning opportunities enabling students to evoke their “relational self”. Namely, to
cross-cultural borders through communicative interaction and use of own representations regarding significant
cultural others for constructive and reciprocal interpersonal encounters/ relations (Andersen and Chen 2002).
Additionally, HE courses could encapsulate interculturality enabling culturally different individuals to relate to each
other through meaningful dialogue and common action based on commonality, reciprocity, mutuality (mutual
sharing) and cultural creation (Dai and Chen 2015). Interculturality is a dialogical process where participants are
trying to develop mutuality and reciprocity by enganging in a tensious relationship of mutual adaptation and
negotiation of their identities and differences. Intercultural participants are “existentially different” and “relationally
asymmetrical” and at the same time “intrinsically interdependent” (Dai and Chen 2015). They try to achieve an
intercultural agreement on the basis of cultural similarities and be productive through common actions.
Interculturality is cemented through empathy and self reflection. So, formal learning opportunities need to provide
reflexive dialogue settings which may lead to common intercultural action.
Thirdly, the adoption of culturally responsive pedagogy framework as an important aspect for effective
intercultural learning. The important issue here is how to design an authentic and reflexive curriculum that connects
formal intercultural learning (theory and practice) with learners’ outside world experiences. A culturally responsive
curriculum design, allows alternative knowledge pathways through the implementation of a ‘diversity of activities’
(Knight 2006, 27). Culturally responsive practices involve reciprocity, respect and a deep understanding of
differences (Gay 2000; Gay 2010; Ladson-Billing 2009; Villegas and Lucas, 2002). They also establish an inclusive
and collaborative learning culture strongly correlated to equitable and comparable learning outcomes as well as
students’ high achievements and well-being (Richards et al. 2007). An important aspect of this methodology is that
promotes learner agency in knowledge acquisition process. Students engage in active and collective reconstruction
of their learning experiences. They are empowered to act in a scaffolded learning framework as knowledge
producers. It is this embedded knowledge that provides new possibilities of collective activity and intercultural
Finally, measuring intercultural learning outcomes is an integral part of an internationalized curriculum (De Wit
2012). Embedding student intercultural learning assessment into an internationalized curriculum offers a learner-
centered focus away for didactic/instructional approaches. Student intercultural learning outcomes may be assessed
at institutional and program level based on metrics (inputs, outputs and outcomes). However, an important level of
assessment, which is valuable to ascertain curriculum effectiveness is that of measuring student intercultural
learning outcomes (Keeling et al., 2008). Matveev and Merz (2014) have suggested applicable tools to HE of
assessing Intercultural Competence at the individual level. These include Intercultural Development Inventory (IDI),
Intercultural Communication Competence Instrument (ICCI) and Cross-Cultural Adaptability Inventory (CCAI).
The validation of intercultural learning in our study focused on measuring intercultural sensitivity as a
prerequisite for intercultural responsiveness, (Banks 2004) namely students’ capacity to demonstrate intercultural
competence as a delivered outcome in real-life settings. Of course, intercultural competence is a broad goal: one
might want to break it down into more measurable objectives. The ISS could be an instrument to measure
intercultural sensitivity, as long as it is validated in the different cultural contexts. However, there is an ongoing
discussion about the need to involve a multi-method approach and to use a variety of tools to assess intercultural
competence as a process and in its multiple dimensions. This may be a further development of our research.
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... Global competence, according to the OECD (2016OECD ( , 2018, is regarded as a multidimensional concept which relates to maximizing economic profits, environment protection, social harmony, security, health and education. In addition, the principles and values of global education are intertwined with multicultural and intercultural education and therefore effective educators should be able to introduce the principles of intercultural pedagogy into their teaching and learning process, This, however, presupposes educators' reflection on their beliefs, perceptions, prejudices and stereotypes they may carry (Arvanitis et al., 2019), but also the acquisition of the appropriate knowledge, skills and practices (Longview Foundation, 2008). ...
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This research comes to measure the level of knowledge, understanding, skills, attitudes and values of educators on global competence. The quantitative methodology was followed and the questionnaire tool was selected. Random sampling technique was used, and the questionnaire was delivered through google forms. The sample consisted of 310 educators who taught in public and private Vocational Training Institutes in the region of Western Greece during 2021-2022. Research findings show that the average value for global knowledge is 3,69 (a lot), for understanding globalization 4,10 (a lot) and for international academic knowledge 3,91 (a lot). Regarding participants' answers for the Skills sub-factors, the average value for the use of tools is 4, 27 (a lot), for the cross-cultural communication 4,03 (a lot) and for the international academic knowledge 3,29 (enough). Regarding the factors of Attitude and values, the average value for intent to interact is 3, 95 (a lot), for open attitude 4,46 (a lot) and for the values 3,94 (a lot). In addition, the control of the Pearson correlation coefficient of the nine factors for global capability shows a statistically significant positive correlation between them. Finally, gender, additional studies, employment relationship and years of service seem to affect the results of the scale.
... The need to incorporate a wider variety of cultures and languages in the programme, as expressed by the participants, implies their realization of the highly diverse student body in Greek schools. Therefore, mutual acceptance [34] and cultural sensitivity appear to be crucial; as Arvanitis et al. [53] claim, developing intercultural competence presupposes developing intercultural sensitivity. This means that teachers are required to be able to perceive the different cultural features and traits of their students, show empathy towards the different culturally-oriented and defined perceptions of their students, and be willing to transform their attitudes, behaviors, and teaching towards more inclusive communicational class environments. ...
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As multicultural classrooms appear to be the norm nowadays, giving rise to new, more particular and targeted needs which must be accommodated, teachers now need to reflect on and adjust the strategies and practices they apply in order to meet the specific learning needs of their intercultural classrooms. For this reason, teachers’ education should be re-examined, evaluated, and enriched. In this light, this original study uses a case study to explores the language views and attitudes of graduates of a Hellenic Open University Master’s international programme entitled “Language Education for Refugees and Migrants” (L.R.M.). The aim is to explore teachers’ level of intercultural competence and readiness as well as their global competences as future teachers in multilingual and multicultural settings after completing the programme. To do this, the study attempts to evaluate the programme through the lens of the personal experiences of the graduates in terms of successes, weaknesses, and strengths. To conduct the research, both quantitative and qualitative methods were applied in the form of a close-ended questionnaire and a semi-structured interview conducted in two different formats. The results indicate that the majority of the participants were confident enough to manage the challenges arising in multicultural settings after completing the program, as they felt they had developed appropriate Skills, Knowledge, and Attitudes; however, a few among them still felt uncertain in doing this. In addition, a number of different approaches and methods were found to be appropriate as used for teachers’ training, while the importance of teachers’ intercultural training was highlighted.
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