Developmental Pathways to Intercultural Competence in College Students

Janelle S. Peifer, University of Richmond
Elaine Meyer-Lee, Goucher College
Gita Taasoobshirazi, Kennesaw State University


Despite travel restrictions, U.S. colleges invest in students’ global learning, to prepare graduates to thrive in today's interdependent society and world. This multi-method longitudinal study applies a constructive developmental and intersectional lens to examine the impact of travel and non-travel based global learning on intercultural competence and change in social diversity, also assessing the pathways that connect these variables. Our pilot findings suggest a greater contribution of on-campus global learning to development of intercultural competence compared to travel-based experiences, such as study abroad. Furthermore, on-campus global learning also contributes significantly to increases in the diversity of students’ peer relationships, and that diversity then connects to intercultural competence. Somewhat surprisingly, these patterns remain consistent for those with historically dominant and marginalized identities.