Contemporary School Psychology
This study investigated perceived influence of study abroad experiences on intercultural competence in school psychologists and school psychologists-in-training. This exploratory descriptive qualitative analysis involved semi-structured interviews with a purposively sampled group (n = 20) of school psychologists (n = 10) and school psychology graduate students (n = 10) who studied abroad during their undergraduate or graduate programs. Participants responded to questions about their study abroad experience, how it affected them, what they learned about other cultures, and how it affected their career or career preparation. Four themes were identified: (1) awareness of cultural similarities and differences; (2) recognition of privilege; (3) development of empathy; and (4) shaping of professional practice. Participants reported that their study abroad experiences had a positive impact on their perceived intercultural competence. Implications for school psychology training programs and suggestions for future research are discussed.
Intercultural competence is typically viewed as existing on a continuum, as a set of skills that develop over time through experiences. Hammer’s (Hammer 2011) Developmental Model of Intercultural Sensitivity illustrates such a continuum, wherein individuals progress from having basic perceptions and behaviors regarding different cultures to a more complex understanding (Hammer 2011). Such frameworks of intercultural competence development generally focus on the shift from an ethnocentric view (that one’s own culture is the center of all cultures), to a more global viewpoint (that cultures interact and influence each other). School psychology training programs involve coursework and field experiences that help students progress along the continuum of intercultural sensitivity.
The research question examined in this study was as follows: What are the perceived effects of study abroad experiences on the intercultural competence of school psychology graduate students and experienced school psychologists? These two points in professional development were selected so we could examine both the short- and long-term perceived effects.
Electronic ISSN: 2161-1505; Print ISSN: 2159-2020
Copyright © 2020, California Association of School Psychologists
Study abroad, school psychologist, intercultural competence, qualitative
Irwin, Alexa M.; Oberhelman, Nicole A.; and Davies, Susan C., "Study Abroad and School Psychologists’ Perceptions of Intercultural Competence" (2020). Counselor Education and Human Services Faculty Publications. 77.