Intercultural Competence is essential in internationalizing classrooms

Culture impacts everything we do, and this includes learning and teaching. When we observe the diverse composition of our classrooms, and the impact of campus and curricula internationalization, it is unquestionable that we need to be effective at facilitating learning and engaging students. To achieve this, we need to have intercultural competence.

What is intercultural competence?

Intercultural competence is our capacity to shift cultural perspective and appropriately adapt behaviour to cultural differences and commonalities.

Although some people may be more flexible and open, intercultural competence is not something that is innate. Yet it is an essential skill for academic outcomes. We have an important role in bridging the cultural divide at schools, colleges, and universities, and how we create inclusive classroom and teacher practices depends on our intercultural capacity, a skill we can learn and develop.

How do you measure intercultural competence?

Intercultural competence can be measured through the Intercultural Development Inventory or IDI®. It is used internationally by a wide range of organizations such as educational institutions and government.

A study conducted in 2005 with 1,500 students about their study abroad experiences found that the students with higher IDI® scores were predictive of important study abroad outcomes. 1 Some examples include, greater knowledge of the host culture, less intercultural anxiety when interacting with culturally diverse individuals, increased intercultural friendships, and higher satisfaction with one’s study abroad experience.

How are IDI® scores tested?

The IDI® measures intercultural competence through an online 50-item questionnaire that can be completed in about 20 to 30 minutes. It generates individual and group profiles, and creates a personalized Individual Developmental Plan. The IDI® has been psychometrically tested and has strong validity and reliability across diverse cultural groups.

If you’re looking to add intercultural competence to your educational tool box, you can sign up for an upcoming IDI® qualifying seminar in Vancouver, BC.

When: June 13 – 15, 2018

Where: Xerox Conference Room 1500, Simon Fraser University, 515 W Hastings Street


1. Hammer, M.R. (2011). Additional cross-cultural validity testing of the Intercultural Development Inventory. International Journal of Intercultural Relations, 35, 474-487.