Intercultural competence across disciplines: A case study of staff and student perceptions at one UK university

Katie Dunworth, Trevor Grimshaw, Janina Iwaniec, James Mckinley

Research output: Contribution to conferenceAbstractpeer-review


This paper reports on the findings from a recently completed project which explored the nature of intercultural competence as perceived by staff and students across four major discipline areas at one university in the UK, and which examined the views of participants with regard to the extent to which current teaching and learning practices might enhance or inhibit the development and manifestation of intercultural competence. The project drew data from both staff and students involved in postgraduate taught teaching programmes across four major discipline areas: science, engineering and design, humanities and social sciences and management.

The project was guided by an overarching view of intercultural competence as presented in the current scholarly literature as a dynamic and contextually fluid process that involves respect for the values of different cultural groups. However, it was intended that the study should be primarily data-driven and that through analysis a conceptual model of intercultural competence that was contextually framed and responsive to the needs of the university in question would emerge.

The project was exploratory-interpretive in nature and followed a multiple-case design, each of the eight postgraduate programmes that were investigated comprising a case. Data were collected through a process of individual background interviews, focus group interviews and stimulated recall interviews, using as a stimulus recordings from an observed lecture or seminar led by the staff participant. Data were analysed through thematic analysis and involved initial coding, categorisation and theme identification. Each case was initially analysed individually by at least two of the four team members to identify the initial codes. These were then further interrogated to resolve inconsistencies and consolidate consistencies. This process was repeated across each case and then subjected to further scrutiny by the four-person research team as a whole. Finally the overarching themes for the study were identified. The findings indicated that there were disciplinary differences in terms of understandings of intercultural competence as well as some shared perspectives, the latter including a recognition of intercultural competence as multi-layered and complex, a commitment to the value of diversity as a positive principle, a recognition of the need for high levels of intercultural competence in the workplace and agreement on the need for adjustments according to context. The paper will discuss the implications of the results for teaching and learning at the institution where the study took place.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusUnpublished - 2017
EventBritish Educational Research Association 2017 -
Duration: 5 Sept 2017 → …


ConferenceBritish Educational Research Association 2017
Period5/09/17 → …


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