Identifying and Measuring the Intercultural Competencies of Educators in International School Settings

  • Martha Ross

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Education (EdD)


This study identifies and measures the use of twenty intercultural competencies (ICs), identified in the literature, and evaluates their use in four international school settings. The study has evaluated the competencies as having a positive effect on students when they are educated equitably and with a positive identification. In cases where there is a lack of intercultural competencies, there can be practice that is to the detriment of learning. This study advocates for international educators to resist cultural stereotypes and the anticipation of complexity and seek to positively mediate cultural influences in the international school classroom.
Jokikokko’s (2010) definition of intercultural competency as ‘professionalism in intercultural contexts,’ is used throughout the study to evaluate good practice. Hornbuckle’s (2015) discovery of the ‘immersion assumption’ in some international schools, where intercultural competency is assumed to develop through proximity to people of different nationalities, creates a different perspective to this practice. These two opposing perspectives are evaluated throughout the study along with a focus on adaptation to an international school context.
154 voluntary respondents from four international schools reflected upon their practice and gave an insight into the extent to which they have used the ICs. The twenty competencies have been grouped into four areas, intercultural awareness, understanding, sensitivity and ultimately learning. The competencies identified are focused on the intentions and actions of educators in fulfilling their roles to lead learning with students in international schools.
A survey was created to gather respondent reflections on intercultural practice in the twenty competencies. This quantitative data created the opportunity for comparison and evaluation of the measurement of the twenty intercultural competencies identified for the study. Qualitative data were collected with a questionnaire where respondents shared their personal and professional contexts. Cultural intelligence and the Cultural Intelligence Scale have been used as the theoretical model with which to develop a way of assessing the development of the respondents cognitive understanding that might influence intercultural practice.
A comparison of data in the four international schools shows that School B was more developed in creating the context for intercultural practice. Comparison of respondent groups and of the contexts for international educators showed a trend where intercultural competence lowered in the respondents third school, after 10-15 years in a school, and after 10-20 years living away from the home culture. Due to a lack of training in intercultural competencies, an Intercultural Competencies in International Schools, (ICIIS) model has been developed for professional development and school assessment.

Date of Award24 Jun 2020
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • University of Bath
SupervisorCatherine Montgomery (Supervisor), Andres Sandoval Hernandez (Supervisor) & Tristan Bunnell (Supervisor)


  • Intercultural Competencies

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