Intercultural competency differences between U.S. And central asian students in an engineering across cultures and nations graduate course

Dena Lang, Meg Handley, Andrew Michael Erdman, John Jongho Park, Mariza Tsakalerou

Research output: Contribution to journalConference articlepeer-review

Abstract

This was an exploratory study to examine the level of ethnocentrism and cultural awareness in graduate students enrolled in a course on Engineering Across Cultures and Nations, jointly offered between a US university and a partner university in Central Asia. The course incorporates cross-cultural, international business aspects of engineering leadership in their shared online curriculum. The course is virtual-team, project-based, and students meet through video conferencing for regular project work. The course introduces students to dimensions of culture, globalization and the impact on engineering, self-awareness of diversity biases/filters and challenges and techniques of effective virtual collaboration. Survey response data were collected during the first week of the course (Pre) and during the last week of the semester (Post) to measure ethnocentrism and cultural awareness/acceptance. The Ethnocentrism Scale (Neuliep & McCroskey, 2013) was used to measure ethnocentrism and the Miville-Guzman Universality-Diversity Scale - Short Form (M-GUDS-S) was used to measure three subscales: Diversity of Contact, Relativistic Appreciation, and Comfort with Differences (Miville et al., 1999; Fuertes et al., 2000). Both of these instruments use Likert scales, which introduces uncertainty in the intervals between scale points. The Likert scale data was treated as ordinal and a nonparametric Mann-Whitney U-test was used to determine group differences based on Mean Rank. Data were matched for pre/post, resulting in 18 paired data sets (11 US students and 7 Central Asian students). Significant differences were identified between Mean Rank of students from the US university and students from the Central Asian University for measures related to ethnocentrism (Pre: p=0.041; Post: 0.023) and the degree of comfort with diverse individuals (Pre: p=0.028; Post: 0.018). The level of ethnocentrism was greater in Central Asian students compared to US students and the level of comfort with diverse individuals was greater in US students compared to Central Asian students. These differences were observed in both the pre- and post-course assessments. Although only a few significant differences were identified between pre- and post-assessments, the rank mean values indicate a general decrease in ethnocentrism from pre to post and an increase in cultural awareness and appreciation of diversity from pre to post assessments. These results indicate a trend in the direction that was expected, however a limitation of this study is the small number of participants which likely limited our power to detect changes over the length of a semester long course.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalASEE Annual Conference and Exposition, Conference Proceedings
StatePublished - Jun 15 2019
Event126th ASEE Annual Conference and Exposition: Charged Up for the Next 125 Years, ASEE 2019 - Tampa, United States
Duration: Jun 15 2019Jun 19 2019

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Engineering(all)

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