This guide provides materials to help faculty develop assignments that strengthen cross-cultural skills through experiential learning activities inside and outside classroom.
Experiential learning activities can include, but are not limited to, globally-focused projects with students from another country or culture, study abroad, faculty-led trips to a foreign country, service learning activities with people from a different culture, online intercultural courses (COIL) and more.
These experiential learning activities can build a range of cross-cultural skills, such as cultural self-awareness, cultural worldview and knowledge, and effective intercultural communication. Appropriately designed assignments are critical to promoting the development of cross-cultural skills and achieving the desired outcomes.
This guide will provide examples to integrate reflections into your classrooms and experiential learning activities. Appropriately worded reflective assignments are crucial to assessing the attainment level of your chosen cross-cultural skills.
The learning contract below was developed by UC Berkeley and can be used to plan experiential learning activities.
(How will the experiential learning be linked to course concepts?)
Tasks to Accomplish Objectives
(papers, reports, journals, presentations, etc)
(How will the student be evaluated? What does success look like?)
About Guided Reflections
To learn whether or not participants have gained cross-cultural skills, you will need to ask them to reflect on what they have learned from the experience/course. Reflections can ask the participants to connect the experience to course content, readings, and to other outside experiences. Participants should be asked to think critically about the experiences and examine how those experiences have impacted their beliefs and attitudes and the way they think about others. Reflections can be done as a group. Decisions should be made in advance whether you will assess the performance of the group or the individual. Keep in mind that individual attainment of one or more skills will be influenced by the responses of the peers.
Top Five Toolkit Applications
- To support instructors in developing measurable learning outcomes for cross-cultural experiential courses, service learning, etc.
- To measure skill attainment at any point during the course/activity/program
- To help design and assess the effectiveness of activities/assignments/experiences for their ability to enhance cross-cultural competencies
- To evaluate the attainment of cross-cultural goals outlined in strategic plans
- To create assessment protocols required by grant-funding agencies
- Identify which cross-cultural learning outcomes (skills) are most relevant for the course/activity/experience. The Rubric contains a list of 8 skills, their definitions and examples. Choose which skill(s) are most relevant to your course/activity/experience.
- Create/adapt course assignments that foster the development of one or more skills. Examine the wording of your assignment(s)/activity(s). Make sure that the students will be able to achieve the identified skills upon completing the activity(s).
- To assess whether the student has gained cross-cultural skills from the experience, a reflection activity or assignment should be built into the experience. The reflection activity should relate directly to the definition of the rubric element connected to the learning outcome of the assignment or course.
For example, consider the learning outcome of cultural self-awareness. Your reflection activity could be the name game:
Sample Assignment: Name Game
Ask each student his/her name and then ask the following:
Why were you given that name?
Is it linked to another person in the family? How?
What are the naming conventions in your family? Is that convention related to your cultural background?
What does your name mean?
Do you like your name?
If you could rename yourself, would you do that?
Do you think your name affects the way people interact with you?
For other activities, see Activity Guide.