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This paper explores the impact of a global engineering course on student development of cultural intelligence and cross-communication skills. Although traveling abroad can lead to these outcomes, engineering students face several barriers to traditional study abroad, including highly structured course sequences and financial challenges. Thus, there is a growing need to identify a variety of methods to help students develop these skills without leaving the country. The program that is the focus of this study combines a global engineering course with a short-term international module. This structure gives us the chance to compare student learning related to different components of the program. In this study we analyzed student results on the Cultural Intelligence Scale (CQS) across three administrations (pre-course, post-course, and post-trip), revealing larger growth post-course than post-trip. We further studied student reflections at the end of the program to understand which experiences were most meaningful to them. A majority of students highlighted experiences where they needed to communicate with someone who did not speak English as a key learning opportunity. However, the depth of learning that students recognized from these experiences varied significantly. Together, these results suggest that students can develop cultural intelligence without traveling abroad, and that creating activities that mimic the cross-cultural communication situations students experience abroad may further assist in such development. Our findings have implications for the development of global engineering programs, including both support for the creation of entirely domestic programs as well as suggested program features to enhance student development of cultural intelligence.

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License.