Idaho State University Diversity Resource Center Partners with new ISU Intercultural Competence Laboratory

POCATELLO – The new Idaho State University Cultural Competence Laboratory is partnering with the ISU Diversity Resource Center and will be housed with it in the Rendezvous Complex.

“I am delighted to be partnered with the Diversity Resource Center,” said Barbara Wood Roberts, director of the Intercultural Competence Laboratory and program coordinator of the ISU TRIO McNair Scholars Program.

Roberts is currently conducting two studies on intercultural competence, which she describes as how someone functions in intercultural situations. She is developing and refining a valid measure of intercultural competence.

“We are seeking to quantify intercultural competence, and this is something that is highly desirable in higher education across the nation and globally as well,” Roberts said. “Can you see another person’s point of view, are you open and willing to listen in cross-cultural situations? That is what intercultural competence is.”

Although this will be a research endeavor, the Intercultural Competence Laboratory also will provide services to on-campus and off-campus entities. ISU students who are interested in learning more about researching intercultural competence can sign up through the psychology department next spring.

“The insights that are gleaned from this type of research could be infused into the training around intercultural competence, diversity and inclusion, which would be aimed at the campus community and others would be interested in it,” said Henry Evans, associate director of the ISU Office of Equal Opportunity/Affirmative Action and Diversity.

“Research can amplify current training and future training endeavors,” Roberts said. “We hope to partner in trainings and interventions and are working on partnerships with other campus entities.”

The laboratory studies have received ISU Institutional Review Board and Human Subject Committee approval.

One of the studies Roberts is currently working on looks at changes in intercultural competence among certificated teachers in the k-8 setting. The lab’s second project is a partnership with the University of Wisconsin, Lacrosse. In this study, the researchers are attempting to revalidate their measure of intercultural competence. For this study, researchers will be looking at 750 students at ISU and 750 at the University of Wisconsin, Lacrosse.

“We plan to be in the analysis phase next summer,” Roberts said. “The participants take the questionnaire online. The study is designed to confirm statistically that we have a valid measure of intercultural competence. We have already conducted a study showing we have good model fit. The current study supplements the previous one by double-checking our work to see if we successfully measured intercultural competence.”

Roberts will continue to apply for additional grants.

For more information about the lab, contact Roberts at 208-282-3142 or woodbar2; or Evans at 208-282-4223, or evanhenr.

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