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Intercultural Competence and Assessment

Theme: Understanding intercultural competence – concepts, models and assessment

Indicative research questions:

  • How can intercultural competence be conceptualised on an empirical basis for specific contexts and groups?
  • What are the strengths and weaknesses of current models?
  • How can intercultural competence be assessed in a valid and reliable way for specific contexts and groups?
  • What are the strengths and weaknesses of current assessment instruments?
  • How can training and assessment of intercultural communicative skills be integrated?
Projects on Conceptualising 'Global Graduate' competency

Currently we are investigating three different strands: a) Conceptualising Intercultural Competencies; b) Assessing Graduates' Preparedness for the Global Workplace; c) A socio-cultural approach to assessing intercultural competencies.

a) Intercultural Competencies for the Global Workplace – data-driven conceptualisation



  • Developing an empirical conceptualisation of competencies needed by graduates to enter the ‘global workplace’ on an empirical basis.
  • Developing a data-based framework of issues and challenges graduate newcomers face when entering the global workplace.

This project is researching intercultural communicative competencies among graduate students to prepare them for entering the global workplace, dealing with common challenges and communicating effectively across cultures. The research contributes towards a data-driven conceptualisation and validation of these competencies. Interview and questionnaire data collected by our research group, along with text documents from CAL MSc students form the basis of the qualitative thematic analyses.

  Funding: Internal, research leave, applied for funding by Leverhulme Trust
  Project Staff: Dr Claudia Harsch
  Duration: October 2011 - February2012, publications ongoing


b) Assessing Graduates' Preparedness for the Global Workplace



  • Developing and validating a data-driven construct (encompassing challenges and competencies) for ‘global graduates’ as basis for assessment and training
  • Exploring feasible assessment approaches to ‘measure’ intercultural competence in a valid and reliable way for ‘global graduates’

This project builds directly on the above project (a) of developing a data-driven conceptualisation and validation of ‘global graduates’ competencies. The initial conceptualisation is currently being validated via an online questionnaire by senior management staff and newcomers to a global workplace. The validated conceptualisation will forms the basis for developing an online assessment tool: The tool aims at measuring graduate students’ cognitive preparedness to communicate and work effectively in an international and intercultural workplace.


Funding: Internal


Project Staff: Prof Helen Spencer-Oatey, Dr Claudia Harsch,

Collaborators: Staff from the Australian Council for Educational Research (ACER)


Duration: Ongoing from October 2011


c) Fostering and assessing intercultural communicative competencies – a socio-cultural approach



  • Exploring Dynamic Assessment to integrate training and assessment of intercultural communicative competencies
  • Developing empirically-based assessment scenarios (so called critical incidents) to be used in a Dynamic Assessment approach

This project again builds on the above mentioned data-driven conceptualisation of ‘global graduates’ intercultural communicative competencies. Assessment Scenarios have been developed based on the above mentioned interview, text and questionnaire data. The scenarios are used in an innovative dynamic assessment approach, which is a pedagogical Vygotskian approach whereby assessor and student interact during the assessment; the aim is to develop learners’ competencies and simultaneously assess their potential for future development. Video data of initial trials serve as starting point to evaluate the feasibility of the new approach and to revise the assessment/training materials.


Funding: Internal; applied for research leave, funding by the Leverhulme Trust and the British Council


Project Staff: Dr Claudia Harsch

Collaborator: Dr Matt Poehner, State University of Pennsylvania (CALPER)


Duration: Ongoing from May 2012


For information on our public engagement associated with this theme, please visit our Public Engagement pages.

Project information

Project Questionnaire for identifying 'Global Skills for Global Graduates'.

Please click here to fill in the questionnaire.


Please click here for further information about the project behind the questionnaire.