Assessing Intercultural Competence
Intercultural competence is illuminated in this document by providing a definition and the importance of constituents across higher education (e.g. faculty, staff, administrators) to have an understanding the different dimensions of intercultural competence. For instance, the author states that language fluency is necessary, but fluency is insufficient to represent intercultural competence. The author highlights the importance of assessing intercultural competence and that it should be viewed as a process, rather than an end result. The authors suggest that institutions collect evidence of the development of intercultural competence and use this information to assess progress over a period of time.
Definition: cultural and linguistic competence is a set of congruent behaviors, knowledge, attitudes, and policies that come together in a system, organization, or among professionals that enables effective work in cross-cultural situations. “Culture” refers to the integrated patterns of human behavior that include the language, thoughts, actions, customs, beliefs, and institutions of racial, ethnic, social, or religious groups. “Competence” implies having the capacity to function effectively as an individual or an organization within the context of the cultural beliefs, practices, and needs presented by patients and their communities.
The author of this article argues that cultural sensitivity training is ineffective and insensitive for several reasons. 1) Such training implies that the majority needs to be more “sensitive” to the minority, which reinforces a power imbalance. 2) Cultural Sensitivity training indirectly places responsibility on white or other dominant group members, without building new skills. Instead, intercultural effectiveness, as a skill, is something that organizations should pursue. 3) Cultural sensitivity training rarely has clear goals that get at the root of whatever problem needs to be solved. Without having a clear understanding of the problem, it is unlikely that cultural sensitivity training can be a solution. Accordingly, it may be more efficient to identify a problem first, followed by a specific program that is designed to address that problem, rather than conducting broad cultural sensitivity trainings.
Cultural Competence: Cultural competence is the state of having and applying knowledge and skill in four areas: awareness of one's own cultural worldview; recognition of one's attitudes toward cultural differences; realization of different cultural practices and worldviews; and thoughtfulness in cross-cultural interaction. Over an extended period of time individuals and organizations develop the wisdom and capability to: 1) examine critically how cultural worldviews influence perceptions of power, dominance and inequality; and 2) behave honorably within the complex dynamics of differences and commonalities among humans, groups and systems . (President’s Commission on Human Rights and Equity, Fresno State University, 2013).