Date of Conferral







James Keen


Preparing college students to be contributing members of local and global societies requires educators to analyze the capabilities and needs of their students and to adjust instructional content and practice. The purpose of this mixed-methods study was twofold: (a) to explore how classroom approaches designed to facilitate students' questioning of assumptions and beliefs regarding different cultural beliefs, social structures, and practices might influence Japanese college students' self-reported development of intercultural competence, and (b) to investigate whether or not the students developed their potential for intercultural competence. Mezirow's transformative learning theory informed this study. Archival qualitative data were from 137 Japanese undergraduate students' journals from a course with approaches designed to facilitate questioning their assumptions and beliefs. Multilevel coding was used to support thematic analysis. Archival quantitative data of students' pretest and posttest scores on the Intercultural Adaptation Potential Scale (ICAPS) were too few for meaningful analysis. Limited trend interpretations of the quantitative data helped support the qualitative data findings. Key findings included students identifying the importance of opportunities to discuss conflicting cultural beliefs, social structures, and practices; several questioned their assumptions and enhanced their intercultural competence. Expanded research into the challenge of enhancing cultural competence is needed. Positive social change is possible when intercultural competence and understanding the importance of dealing with cultural conflicts in an informed manner are enhanced. Students who expand their comfort levels and understandings will gain membership into multiple societies, reflect critically on their worldviews, and be able to take positive actions during conflicts.