Building Cultural Competencies in Design-Oriented Education Programs

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Title: Building Cultural Competencies in Design-Oriented Education Programs
Physical Description: 1 online resource (87 p.)
Language: english
Creator: Stubbs, Lauren A
Publisher: University of Florida
Place of Publication: Gainesville, Fla.
Publication Date: 2013


Subjects / Keywords: abroad -- architecture -- competency -- cultural -- design -- education -- experiential -- international -- landscape
Landscape Architecture -- Dissertations, Academic -- UF
Genre: Landscape Architecture thesis, M.L.A.
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theses   ( marcgt )
government publication (state, provincial, terriorial, dependent)   ( marcgt )
born-digital   ( sobekcm )
Electronic Thesis or Dissertation


Abstract: “Culture”is the realization of the relationship between people and their environment.  Not only is it manifested in tangible items, but it also engenders identity, paradigms, and habitus: thus it fundamentally plays an incomparable role in what constitutes a sense of place.  Because landscape architects and other design professionals can have a powerful influence over place, they bear the responsibility of understanding and respecting this human construct.  Despite the increasing opportunities to interact with cultures different from our own, designers are often not specifically trained to competently respond to the cultural context.  Given the fluid nature of cultural interactions in today’s world, preparing designers to connect to other cultures requires that they experience and are educated in places formed by a different cultural construct.  The goal of this cross-cultural learning should be for students to develop cultural competency by structuring international experiences on experiential learning models that promote meaningful exchanges of ideas and reflection.  This thesis represents the author’s reflections on study abroad experiences and through further surveys,focus group discussions and expert interviews that elaborate on the development of cultural competency in education abroad programs.  The author’s insights and personal reflections on the study-abroad experiences are offered within the framework of how to develop cultural competency.
General Note: In the series University of Florida Digital Collections.
General Note: Includes vita.
Bibliography: Includes bibliographical references.
Source of Description: Description based on online resource; title from PDF title page.
Source of Description: This bibliographic record is available under the Creative Commons CC0 public domain dedication. The University of Florida Libraries, as creator of this bibliographic record, has waived all rights to it worldwide under copyright law, including all related and neighboring rights, to the extent allowed by law.
Statement of Responsibility: by Lauren A Stubbs.
Thesis: Thesis (M.L.A.)--University of Florida, 2013.
Local: Adviser: Thompson, Kevin R.

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Source Institution: UFRGP
Rights Management: Applicable rights reserved.
Classification: lcc - LD1780 2013
System ID: UFE0045515:00001

Permanent Link: http://ufdc.ufl.edu/UFE0045515/00001

Material Information

Title: Building Cultural Competencies in Design-Oriented Education Programs
Physical Description: 1 online resource (87 p.)
Language: english
Creator: Stubbs, Lauren A
Publisher: University of Florida
Place of Publication: Gainesville, Fla.
Publication Date: 2013


Subjects / Keywords: abroad -- architecture -- competency -- cultural -- design -- education -- experiential -- international -- landscape
Landscape Architecture -- Dissertations, Academic -- UF
Genre: Landscape Architecture thesis, M.L.A.
bibliography   ( marcgt )
theses   ( marcgt )
government publication (state, provincial, terriorial, dependent)   ( marcgt )
born-digital   ( sobekcm )
Electronic Thesis or Dissertation


Abstract: “Culture”is the realization of the relationship between people and their environment.  Not only is it manifested in tangible items, but it also engenders identity, paradigms, and habitus: thus it fundamentally plays an incomparable role in what constitutes a sense of place.  Because landscape architects and other design professionals can have a powerful influence over place, they bear the responsibility of understanding and respecting this human construct.  Despite the increasing opportunities to interact with cultures different from our own, designers are often not specifically trained to competently respond to the cultural context.  Given the fluid nature of cultural interactions in today’s world, preparing designers to connect to other cultures requires that they experience and are educated in places formed by a different cultural construct.  The goal of this cross-cultural learning should be for students to develop cultural competency by structuring international experiences on experiential learning models that promote meaningful exchanges of ideas and reflection.  This thesis represents the author’s reflections on study abroad experiences and through further surveys,focus group discussions and expert interviews that elaborate on the development of cultural competency in education abroad programs.  The author’s insights and personal reflections on the study-abroad experiences are offered within the framework of how to develop cultural competency.
General Note: In the series University of Florida Digital Collections.
General Note: Includes vita.
Bibliography: Includes bibliographical references.
Source of Description: Description based on online resource; title from PDF title page.
Source of Description: This bibliographic record is available under the Creative Commons CC0 public domain dedication. The University of Florida Libraries, as creator of this bibliographic record, has waived all rights to it worldwide under copyright law, including all related and neighboring rights, to the extent allowed by law.
Statement of Responsibility: by Lauren A Stubbs.
Thesis: Thesis (M.L.A.)--University of Florida, 2013.
Local: Adviser: Thompson, Kevin R.

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Rights Management: Applicable rights reserved.
Classification: lcc - LD1780 2013
System ID: UFE0045515:00001

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2 2013 Lauren Alexandra Stubbs


3 ACKNOWLEDGMENTS I thank my University of Florida and Bandung Technical Institute colleagues from the Indonesia program for their contributions to this project and their friendship. I especially thank interviewees Eliza Pennypacker, Sam Dennis, and Daniel Winterbottom for their incredibly helpful insights. I thank my friends and family for their continued support throug h this process and UL for the exceptional proofreading I thank my committee for their guidance. In particular, I thank Kevin Thompson for his dedication to my success and for always being ready to whip my pantat back into shape.


4 TABLE OF CONTENTS page ACKNOWLEDGMENTS .................................................................................................. 3 LIST OF TABLES ............................................................................................................ 6 LIST OF FIGURES .......................................................................................................... 7 ABSTRACT ..................................................................................................................... 8 CHAPTER 1 INTRODUCTION .................................................................................................... 10 2 LITERATURE REVIEW .......................................................................................... 16 What is Culture? ..................................................................................................... 16 Culture, Identity and PlaceMaking ......................................................................... 17 Pedagogy and Cultural Competency ...................................................................... 17 The Studio ........................................................................................................ 17 Cross Cultural Education .................................................................................. 19 Cultural Competency ........................................................................................ 20 International Education and Experiential Learning .................................................. 23 International Education and Design Professions .............................................. 25 CELA Study ...................................................................................................... 25 An ISLE in the Isles .......................................................................................... 26 Models and Types of Study Abroad ................................................................. 27 Experiential Learning .............................................................................................. 29 3 METHODOLOGY ................................................................................................... 33 Questions ................................................................................................................ 33 Qualitative Approach ............................................................................................... 34 Bringing the Methods Together ............................................................................... 36 Index Development ................................................................................................. 38 Cognitive Testing .............................................................................................. 39 Instrument Testing ............................................................................................ 40 Reliability .......................................................................................................... 41 Discriminatory Power ....................................................................................... 42 Validity .............................................................................................................. 42 Final Index ........................................................................................................ 43 Interviews and Participant Observation ................................................................... 44 Participation and Note taking ........................................................................... 44 Interviews ......................................................................................................... 46 Focus Group ..................................................................................................... 47 Expert Interviews .............................................................................................. 47


5 4 RESULTS AND DIS CUSSION ............................................................................... 49 Does It Work? ......................................................................................................... 5 0 Whats Been Said ................................................................................................... 51 Index ....................................................................................................................... 52 Group Reflections ................................................................................................... 52 Experiential Learning and Program Structure ......................................................... 54 Con crete Experience: Awareness .................................................................... 54 Observation and Reflection: Sensitivity ............................................................ 56 Forming Abstract Concepts: Studio .................................................................. 59 Testing in New Situations: Skill ........................................................................ 61 Expert Interviews .................................................................................................... 62 Penn States Semester Abroad ........................................................................ 62 Service Learning and Design Build .................................................................. 67 Design Build ..................................................................................................... 71 The Patterns Emerge .............................................................................................. 73 Working with Local Students ............................................................................ 73 Connecting to Community ................................................................................ 74 Where to Go? ................................................................................................... 74 How Long Shall We Stay? ................................................................................ 75 Did it Work? ...................................................................................................... 76 The Reason Why .............................................................................................. 76 But, What Does It All Mean? ................................................................................... 76 A Note on Measurement of Student Learning Outcomes ....................................... 78 5 CONCLUSION ........................................................................................................ 80 Getting Back to the Problem ................................................................................... 80 Moving Forward ...................................................................................................... 80 LIST OF REFERENCES ............................................................................................... 84 BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH ............................................................................................ 87


6 LIST OF TABLES Table page 2 1 Definitions of Cultural Competency .................................................................... 32


7 LIST OF FIGURES Figure page 2 1 Kolbs Experiential Learning Cycle ..................................................................... 32 3 1 Methodology Diagram ........................................................................................ 48 4 1 Findings Diagram ............................................................................................... 79


8 Abstract of Thesis Presented to the G raduate School of the University of Florida in Partial Fulfillment of the Requirements for the Degree of Master of Landscape Architecture BUILDING CULTURAL COMPETENCIES IN DESIGN ORIENTED EDUCATION PROGRAMS By Lauren Alexandra Stubbs May 2013 Chair: Kevin Thompson Major: Landscape Architecture Culture is the realization of the relationship between people and their environment. Not only is it manifested in tangible items, but it also engenders identity, paradigms, and habitus : t hus it fundamentally plays an incomparable role in what constitu tes a sense of place. Because landscape architects and other design professionals can have a powerful influence over place, they bear the responsibility of understanding and respecting this human co nstruct. D espite the increasing opportunities to interact with cultures different from our own, designers are often not specifically trained to competently respond to the cultural context. Given the fluid nature of cultural interactions in todays world, preparing designers to connect to other cultures requires that they experience and are educated in places formed by a different cultural construct The goal of this cross cultural learning should be for students to develop cultural competency by structur i ng international experiences on experiential learning model s that promote meaningful exchanges of ideas and reflection. T his thesis represents the authors reflections on study abroad experiences and through further surveys, focus group discussions and expert interviews that elaborate on the development of cultural competency in education abroad programs The authors


9 i nsights and personal reflections on the study abroad experiences are offered within the framework of how to develop cultural competency.


10 CHAPTER 1 INTRODUCTION Studio constitutes the core of design education. T he s tudio format has not remained unchallenged, but it has remained mostly unchanged since its beaux arts origins In studio students learn the valuable and fundamental skills nec essary to become practitioners often with particular attention to the clients needs and the sites physical, biogeographical and political contexts. Under the tutelage of an instructor, l andscape architects spend a significant amount of time analyzing a nd synthesizing physical aspects of a site in order to produce design solutions specific to the constraints and opportunities of the project site. The nature of globalism has yielded an increased demand for designers to apply these skills to international sites ; necessitating skills not only in producing design solutions, but producing those solutions within foreign cultural context s. The success of a project largely depends on its appropriateness with the culture in which it is built because culture sig nificantly dictates the way the user group will interact with the place. While landscape architects are adept at working with physical aspects of a site within different physical contexts, approaching design through different cultural lens es requires spec ific skill sets that are in high demand especially with regard to intercultural relations. There are studios that specifically incorporate social and cultural issues, however ( as Setha Low (1994) notes ) while a foreign design exploration may involve significant time investigating aspects of pluralism and society upon returning to studio the pressure of what is professionally appropriate becomes more important. Students learn to design for their colleagues and professors rather than for the community (p. 70)


11 Thus, the traditional studio structure often prevents students from developing the skill of considering other cultural perspectives This limited cultural perspective presents challenges when designers ar e engaged to interact within a social or cultural structure that differs from their own ( an increasingly more common scenario given the globalized workforce in which so many designers today are being employed) This becomes important when analyzing how integral culture is to place and identity. Culture becomes manifested in place through symbols a construct that landscape architects often work with. With respect to Lefebvre and Lynchs explanations of symbols and their importance to cultural perceptions of place, Neil (Neill & Schwedler, 2001) states: It was Lefebvre who perhaps more than any one else extended the approach developed by Lynch to incorporate an awareness of the symbolic aspects of peoples imagery of the city alongside the physical dimensions. Lefebvre distinguishes between the representations of space engaged by professional planners and cartographers which often lacks critical sensitivity to the everyday spatial practices of people and to the meaning wrapped up in these and to representational spaces in cities which are loaded with impo rtant symbolic meanings (p. 6). Thus making space is therefore ver y much a way of making meaning (Ne ill & Schwedler, 2001, pp. 6 7) The symbols and meanings that are associate d with these spaces make a significant contribution to the sense of place. Recognizing that in late modern times the world is becoming increasingly placeless, a matter of mer e sites instead of lived places, place is due respect because of its power to direct and stabilize us, to memorialize and identify us, to tell us who we are in terms of where we are (as well as where we are not) (Neill & Schwedler, 2001, pp. 78) Without appropriate cultural considerations design interventions risk diminishing the meaning and identity of the user s and also potentially of the place.


12 The issue this thesis investigates is how to ensure design professionals are properly prepared to engage places situated in foreign cultures. The essence of the proble m emerges from the narrow conc ept of place that has become part of how designers are conditioned to think and respond to design problems We are products of our own culture: this explanation does not remove us from fault The responsibility and power we hold as designers and design educators necessitate our ability to understand how cultural lenses influence the way people view and interact with the environments in which they live, work or otherwise occupy It is culture that binds the social issues and emotional connections of humans to a place; our interactions with any environment s are predicated upon our cultural lens. In order to address this layer of context appropriately it would be beneficial for design education to specifically prescribe the development of inter cultural skills in the same manner that it instills competencies concerning physical contexts. In order to achieve this there must be a new structure of pedagogy to prepare designers to thrive in the cross cultural environment The trad itional studio methods alone may not be the best suited approach to developing cultural compet ency within the profession. Naturally, in order to establish skills working in different cultural environments, one must first be exposed to a different cultural environment. Study abroad programs and other international experiences are means by which cultural competency could successfully be developed and should be further explored for their potential. If developing cultural competencies is predicated on exposure to a different culture, then it does not necessarily have to occur in an international setting. There are


13 many cultural differences that can be found in the same city, let alone the same country. The conference articles compiled by Neill & Scwedler (2001) elaborate specifically on how cultural tensions are manifested in the urban contexts of Berlin and Belfast, and Lawson (2005) leads a studio that focuses on multiculturalism in St. Louis, Missouri. C ultural groups can be seen not just through national identities, but also through the way people organize themselves, whether for religious, economic, political, or ethnic heritage reasons, just to name a few. Wh ile this thesis specifically focuses on experiences of international exchange, there is little reason to assume that the principles and models proposed in this research cannot be applied to domestic cultural exchanges. The purpose for focusing on the international aspects is predominately due to the authors background and interests. Much of my interest in study abroad and international learning stems from first hand academic experiences. The curriculum in Landscape Architecture at Penn State historically required that students in their fourth year spend a semester participating in a study abroad experience based in Rome. Another studio I participated in at Penn State took us to Panama. More recently, I have participated in two distinctly different study abroad programs during my tenure as a graduate student in l andscape a rchitecture at the University of Florida. For four weeks I participated in a joint study abroad program that partner ed with the Indonesian university, the Institute for Technology Bandung (ITB). Immediately afterwards I spent a week and a half participating in an abbreviated program from the University of Floridas Bali Field School with a local guide who was familiar with the program


14 The concern is not to determine whether study abroad holds benefit for this is broadly suggested in the literature; rather this thesis questions our specific goals and expectations of the learning potential that is at the core of this type of in ternational experience within a design education context Th e first step in exploring these international experiences lies with understand ing why and how these experiences affect designers. We can use this understanding to specify our pedagogical intentions, which in turn allows us to assess and adapt such program s in order to tailor their efficacy in instilling the desired competencies. It is important to note that not all international abroad experiences instill cultural competencies. In many cases, study abroad studios reflect the same structure as a traditi onal studio, just conducted in a different place. Often by simply being in t he place the student will find themselves in situations that expand awareness and support insights and inspiration. While this type of exposure can be beneficial, we cannot rely on proximity having the same learning results as a specific learning intention supported by a st ructure of goals and objectives. In order to further this intention of developing cross cultural skills through study abroad experiences this thesis proposes t o develop an understanding of crosscultural learning and its relevance to the design professions, specifically landscape architecture. It also provides a pedagogical theory to support the development of cultural competency and provides a framework for ev aluating study abroad and international experiences. In analyzing structured programs and reflecting on the experiences they afford, the research may be able to offer a better understanding of these experiences as they apply to design professionals. The education literature asserts that these experiences


15 are beneficial, but we do not yet understand how specifically they benefit desi gners. Until we understand the benefit we cannot understand what to expect from these experiences with regard to learning goals or outcomes, and thus we cannot evaluate the success of such programs on these terms Perhaps the essence of what design educators are trying to accomplish by sending design students on international experiences lies with developing cultural competenc y as a supplement to traditional studio education.


16 CHAPTER 2 LITERATURE REVIEW The following literature review gathers information on a variety of concepts specifically where they converge, or have th e potential to converge within a design perspective. W hile there is literature from the design professions that applies to the topic of this thesis, literature from other fields such as education, business, anthropology and nursing is used accordingly. What is Culture? In preparation for a recent study abroad program I attended the required university sponsored orientation along with several hundred fellow students who wer e preparing to embark on their own international experiences. Before delving into health insurance, financial aid, respectful behavior, and culture shock lectures, the organizers exhibited several student produced short films that highlighted the students motivations to study abroad. In one film a young female student dawned in a stylishly cocked beret stood poised in front of a paint ed backdrop of the Eiffel tower and recited a poem depicting her adoration of all things French. To experience French culture is the motivator, the source of her desire to study abroad. The young woman spoke of cobblestone streets, cathedrals and croissan ts, and the sheer bliss of sipping a caf on the Champs lyses Seeing her gleam with excitement over the prospect of travelling to her long beloved City of Lights was charming, but I found myself questioning the kinds of experiences we students have whe n studying abroad. It is undeniable that there is something magical about culture that enthralls the hearts and imaginations of many but so often we find ourselves latching on only to its tangible aspects and superficial ly isolating them from their context and their derivative. This is not to say that such physical elements are unimportant, but we must be cautious. I f culture can be relegated to pastries and boulevards perhaps we are missing something in the cultural exchange. The tangible elemen ts of culture are a product of a grander, intangible system the dynamic relationship between humans and their environment. The difficulties in defining what constitutes culture become apparent as Setha Low remarks that we are dealing not with static, d efinable attributes that can be measured or codified but with definitions and identities that are negotiated, fluid, and context dependent (S. Low,


17 1994, p. 68) Hence, the culture of a place is not a singular entity, but rather is composed of a cultural mosaic built on a multiplicity of histories, voices, and peoples (S. Low, 1994, p. 71) This mosaic forms the essential building blocks of what constitutes our culture and thus our identity. Culture, Identity and Place Making Place has been discussed in terms of cognitive and emotional linkage of individual to place, place identity, community identity and symbolic placement. Place attachment is the symbolic relationship formed by people giving culturally shared emotional/affective meanings to a particular space or piece of land that provides the basis for the individuals and groups understanding of and relation to the environment (S. M. Low, 1992, p. 165) Relph (1976) asserts that place attach ment is so basic that to be human is to live in a world that is filled with significant places: to be human is to hav e and to know your place (p.1) (S. M. Low, 1992, p. 166) As Neill and Schwedler (2001) point out, the German word for being alive, Dasein literally means being there. C ulture is inseparably intertwined with place and constitutes the core of our experience with our environment. It is important t hat such elements are recognized for their importance to professions that have such powerful impacts on place Based on Michele Kellys definition, for the purposes of this thesis culture is defined as : a dynamic gestalt of behavioral norms, beliefs, and shared understandings of the world that guides everyday life and is inherent to a particular population su bgroup. Pedagogy & Cultural Competency The Studio The studio rests at the core of all design curricula. This central aspect of design education originated with the beaux arts architecture tradition and over time has


18 changed very little, if at all (Forsyth, Lu, & McGirr, 1999) It continues to maintain themes of design juries, strict deadli nes, and oneon one desk crits with the purpose of p roducing professionals empower ed with a standard set of skills that defines what it means to be an architect (C rysler, 1995) R eferred to as Master Apprentice System (Forsyth et al., 1999) Mastery Mystery teaching style (Forsyth et al., 1999) and Transmission Model (Crysler, 1995) the emphasis of the studio revolves around the master teacher, and the individual creative pupil. Regardless of the design discipline, t he studio projects increase in complexity as the students progress through the program acquiring a designers vocabulary and competency in design, form and function. The studio model has been criticized for separating students from the cultural context and other human complexities. Setha Low (1994) asse rts that e ven in situations where an educational studio project aims to incorporate pluralism or social responsibility, the learning structure still t ends to dictate a onedirectional flow of i nformation. Students in a design studio may spend considerabl e time asking local residents what would be appropriate landscape elements, yet when students return to their studio, the pressure of what is professionally appropriate becomes more important. Students learn to design for their colleagues and professors r ather than for the community (S. Low, 1994, p. 70) Bourdieu expands this thought further by stating that the higher education system as a whole not only reproduces the producers of the dominant culture, it, more important, produces consumers of that culture (Stevens, 1995, p. 111)


1 9 Such issues revolving around traditional approaches of studio education become important when we try to reconcile the approach with the ever evolving and increasingly globalized world in which we find ourselves. Cross Cultural Education Because the profession of landscape architecture is involved with decisionmaking concerning the use, allocati on, and preservation of resources we engage questions of power that influence formal and informal social structures (Brown & Jennings, 2003, p. 99) This pushes the profession into the political realm and forces us to confront and reconcile aspects of power within the social structures that are inherent to t he design context (Brown & Jennings, 2003) Margarita Hill (2005) defines a crosscultural education as one that is designed to reduce race, class, and gender divisions and to encourage a more full participation in a democratic society (p.120) Myers, Hill & Hardwood (2005) continue by stating, Cross cultural learning im plies a process in which a student is encouraged to see issues from another cultural perspective. It goes beyond just understanding and developing an awareness and appreciation of another culture. Cross cultural learning should allow a broadening and transforming of student's own views as a result of the cross cultural experience. The transformed viewpoint, in turn, influences how students see t heir own culture (p. 174) These definitions carry some very solemn responsibilities for educators with regard to structuring a study abroad program Based on their study, Hewitt and Nassar (2005) suggest that landscape architecture programs need to improve the assessment of international programs by evaluating their performance objectives. This would necessit ate that programs first calibrate and strengthen the focus on their prescribed learning objectives. Once a


20 programs learning objectives are established, educators would then have the ability to engage the pedagogical theory as necessary. The obstacles i n completing this task arise when we realize that we know little of the specifics revolving around these kinds of international experiences. Because we lack the explicit understanding of the opportunities and constraints that international education impac ts on the design process, we do not know what learning outcomes to expect (let alone plan for) from such programs. Cultural Competency The issues revolving around having adequate skills to work across cultural boundaries have been discussed by numerous aut hors and across a variety of disciplines. Such competencies have been referred to in the literature (specifically in the fields of education, nursing, and to some extent design) by a variety of terms: cross cultural competency, global competency, social awareness, and the like. While they are all similar in definition, for the purposed of this thesis, the phrase cultural competency will be used t o refer to these competencies (Table 11). It is also helpful to think of t he definition in terms of both cul ture and competency. Kelley (2009) defines culture as a unique configuration of behavioral norms, beliefs, and shared understanding of the world that guides everyday life and is common to a particular population subgroup. Kelley continues to state that all cultural groups, (including dominant Western White groups), possess locally adapted patterns or codes of conduct or performances of daily life that are unapparent to casual observers or outsiders, making it inappropriate for practitioners or researchers to impose rigid interpretations or categorization of beliefs and behaviors on any one group (2009) The cultural lens is a subjective phenomenon that directly affects the manner in which a


21 person identifies with and interacts with the wo rld. If competency implies having the skills and abilities to sufficiently perform in a specific context (Kelly 2009), then having cultural competency means having the ability to develop an intimate understanding of ones own cultural lens as well as the lenses of others, and using that knowledge for application of a specific task. Based on the literature review and for the purposes of this paper, cult ural competency is defined as: a process that integrates cultural awareness, cultural sensitivity and cultur al skill to gain an applicable understanding of how culture affects the way people view and interact with the world. Awareness is closely related to knowledge, in that it is the recognition that in some instances people do and think very different th ings depending on their cultural construct. Sensitivity takes a step further in relating to the empathy one develops towards a different cultural perspective. An essential aspect of this skill is that not only does it involve levels of awareness and sens itivity to cultural differences, but those skills form the base to see past ones cultural biases and understand how decisions and interventions would affect the culture one is engaging. Awareness and sensitivity support actions and are used to implement a specific skill, in this case: design. Design in and of itself is an incredibly subjective phenomenon. Defining good design regardless of how it is applied within the realm of cultural competency is something that has been debated at least since the fi rst century BC when Vitruvius published his Ten Books on Architecture (1914) More recently, Dieter Rams, a German architect, interior designer and industrial engineer has identified 10 principles of what constitutes good design (Vitsoe.com)


22 Good Design Is Innovative: The possibilities for innovation are not, by any means, exhausted. Technological development is always offering new opportunities for innovative design. Bu t innovative design always develops in tandem with innovative technology, and can never be an end in itself. Good Design Makes a Product Useful : A product is bought to be used. It has to satisfy certain criteria, not only functional but also psychological and aesthetic. Good design emphasizes the usefulness of a product while disregarding anything that could possibly detract from it. Good Design Is Aesthetic : The aesthetic quality of a product is integral to its usefulness because products are used every day and have an effect on people and their well being. Only well executed objects can be beautiful. Good Design Makes A Product Understandable : It clarifies the products structure. Better still, it can make the product clearly express its function by making use of the users intuition. At best, it is self explanatory. Good Design Is Unobtrusive : Products fulfilling a purpose are like tools. They are neither decorative objects nor works of art. Their design should therefore be both neutral and restrained, to leave room for the users self expression. Good Design Is Honest : It does not make a product more innovative, powerful or valuable than it really is. It does not attempt to manipulate the consumer with promises that cannot be kept Good Design Is Longlasti ng: It avoids being fashionable and therefore never appears antiquated. Unlike fashionable design, it lasts many years even in todays throwaway society. Good Design Is Thorough Down to the Last Detail : Nothing must be arbitrary or left to chance. Care and accuracy in the design process show respect towards the consumer. Good Design Is Environmentally Friendly : Design makes an important contribution to the preservation of the environment. It conserves resources and minimizes physical and visual pollution throughout the lifecycle of the product. Good Design Is as Little Design as Possible: Less, but better because it concentrates on the essential aspects, and the products are not burdened with nonessentials. Back to purity, back to simplicity. The way in which a designer prioritizes these concepts varies greatly and depends largely on the designers personal paradigm and subscribed schools of thought


23 Which ever points are more important than the others is in this authors view, greatly dependent on the designers background, needs of the user and specifics of the site and thus will not be debated here. The crucial aspect of this list becomes apparent when we imagine applying any of these points within a specific cultural context. Whether or not I find a design to be aesthetically pleasing, useful, understandable, or intuitive will depend almost entirely on my cultural construct. If each of these tenets is to be successfully implemented in a specific place, with users that have specific values, goals, and needs, then we should first strive to genuinely understand their perspective. Doing this requires the skill that is predicated upon awareness towards the specifics of the context and sensitivity that embodies a respect and appreciation for the differ ences. The specifics of how this skill will manifest itself within a culturally competent design are difficult to delineate because each context will dictate its own needs It is our level of responsiveness to those needs that determines if our design sol utions are successful or not. When we are used to designing within the comforts of our own cultural perspective, we start to fall into certain patterns of action without really critically evaluating them. We are trained products of our own cultural syste m; while familiarity with our system helps us in quickly and effectively working in our own cultural environment, it can be harmful to implement such assumptions in a foreign environment. International Education & Experiential Learning The lure of exotic p laces and the desire to experience something beyond our immediate environment has been a pivotal aspect of human existence. It is easy to recognize how such explorations generate meaningful learning experiences Whether for a thirst for knowledge, riches or survival people have been exploring foreign and


24 unknown environments since time immemorial (Stier, 2004) Thus interest in the world, other people, cultures, languages and ideas or simply the quest for knowledge and competence are ancient motives for ac ademic training abroad (Stier, 2004, p. 85) Only people not embedded in the particular social order see that it is not natural, but just one particular way of doing things (Stevens, 1995, p. 106) Thus, t hrough internationalization, higher education can foster gl obal citizens who will contribute to a more democratic and just world. S tudents and instructors supposedly gain an awareness of global conditions and social issues and in turn demand increased welfare and quality of living standards (Stier, 2004) Stier (2004) criticizes this viewpoint for embodying the paradigm of the rich worlds value systems and ethnocentrism (p.89). When the intercultural relationship is viewed as us helping them in a oneway flow, any competencies are instantly devalued (Stier, 2004) Because these prevailing attitudes have rightfully led to accusations of Western pedagogy being based in cultural imperialism and global hegemony, there is an apparent need to reevaluate our concepts of international education. T o nurture global citizenship requires a delivery mechanism that en gages students with the real world and enables them to think beyond their own immediate needs while recognizing the critical responsibility that humans have in mitigating environmental issues (Tarrant, 2012, p. 422) While it is generally acknowledged in the literature that experient ial learning as a pedagogical tool has the ability to foster the development of skills such as cultural competency, the way in which the learning is structured is a n important element.


25 International Education and Design Professions I t appears evident in s cholarly literature and research that study abroad and international education experiences are seen as being beneficial, not only in the broader context of higher education, but also within designprofession education programs. However, despite acceptance of this, little published work to date defines or describes international education within the design professions, particularly landscape architecture (Hewitt & Nassar, 2005, p. 186) This is not true for all fields ; specifically, the literature from business and nursing has made significant advancements, especially with regar d to furthering cross cultural development. The publications that do elaborate on the issues surrounding international education in landscape architecture are found almost exclusively in one issue of Landscape Journal published in 2005. The articles were devoted to the issues international education theme and showcased the profession s standing on the topic through a variety of case studies, and data analyses. While these articles and studies do begin to challenge the traditional studio model by i ntegrating cultural and social components, design educators still lack a comprehensive understanding of what is clearly an increasingly important aspect of our pedagogy (Hewitt & Nassar, 2005, p. 186) Unfortunately, this lack of understanding prevails today. CELA Study In order to further our understanding on study abr oad programs within the profession of landscape architecture, Hewitt and Nassar (2005) conducted a st udy that provides a critical first step in providing the framework that will support further research. In this study, the authors analyzed data sources collected between 2002 and 2005 from study abroad programs that were participators with the Council of Educators in


26 Landscape Architecture (CELA). The outlined patterns included program background; program trends and variations; approach and emphasis; student participation; and perceived benefits and problems. It is interesting to note that the patterns in landscape architecture programs are broadly consistent with the substantial growth and change in international study generally noted in the scholarly literature (Hewitt & Nassar, 2005, p. 195) However, consistency with higher education literature is not always the case, and Hewitt & Nassar (2005) suggest that these deviations require further research. One aspect that is evident in the study which is not explained by the literature is the relatively greater identification of multiculturalism with regional/local issues than with international education issues (p. 195) Furthermore, Hewitt & Nassar (2005) state that while there is information in scholarly literature that addresses student orientation and assessment, the data for the landscape architecture programs show that there is little indication that programs consult this l iterature or attempt to link their survey assessments to it (p. 195) This leads Hewitt and Nassar (2005) to highlight the need for evaluation and assessment of the programs An ISLE in the I sles Another study conducted by Kevin Thompson analyzed trends in service learning programs within landscape architecture. The study cites that between 2003 and 2007, first hires to overseas design and planning postings increase d by an average of 24% each year. Given this trend, the study seeks to understand how the instructional institutions who train these young profess ionals responded to this increas ing demand for American trained designers overseas.


27 The study used an inter net survey to identify current programs and program types available to design and planning students in the Englishspeaking regions of the world which were analyzed (based on region) for the number of programs offered to students in landscape architecture, architecture, interior design, and planning. Findings showed that most programs (nearly 60%) were based in Europe. This finding is comparable to the study conducted by Hewitt and Nasar (2005) which also highlights that most study abroad destinations are based in Europe. Models and Types of S tu dy Abroad There is great variety in study abroad programs which occurs both in the broadly defined structure and in the nuanced details of a program. There is a distinction between the kind of study abroad that tends to follow the grand tour model and the international experience that tends to focus more on working to solve local issues. Generally speaking a study abroad experience implies that students study aspects of a particular place with the intent of finding inspiration and bringing innovations back home. An international experience tends to suggest a somewhat more vested interest in the local community, with time and efforts more intensely dedicated towards fulfilling the needs of a project in that specific local community. This is not to suggest that one is necessarily better at developing cultural c ompetency than the other; they each offer unique ways of introducing students to cultural contexts and have distinct opportunities and constraints. A few of the generally accepted models and types have been highlighted and defined in the following section. Island model: replicates most aspects of the American college/university learning in a self contained context, a bubble, within the host country. Frequently


28 programs transport US faculty to the host country to provide all instruction (Norris & Dwyer, 2005) Hybrid model: programs for which the home institutions offer support and services and which encourage students to take coursework offered by the program as well as courses taught by host country faculty at the local u niversity (Norris & Dwyer, 2005) Direct Enrollment/Exchange model: programs in which American students directly apply for admission to and participate in the courses and extracurricular offerings of the host institution. The direct enrollment experience often provides American students with minimal orientation, and support services are offered through the host university's offic e for visiting foreign students (Norris & Dwyer, 2005) Grand Tour / Le Petit Grand Tour/ Study Tour : follows in the tradition of the European grand tour, whereby aristocratic students traveled to European capitals to supplement their liberal arts educations and to accumulate t he treasures of the Old World (Lewin, 2009) This format is closest to traditional tourist travel, but the trip is tailored to a course them e This type of trip can increase interest in the course topics, country, people, and it can help students gain the confidence they need to travel and vacation abroad (Sachau, Brasher, & Fee, 2010) ServiceLearning: The service learning study abroad type is a trip that includes international travel and volunteer work. Service learning is a form of experiential learning (Dewey, 1938) that integrates coursework and community service. In other words, service learning links the work students do in the classroom to real world problems and world needs (American Association of Higher Education, 2003). Service-


29 learning trips can enrich learning, teach civic responsibility, and strengthen communities (Fiske, 2001). In terms of the educational goals we discussed above, the servicelearning trip wi ll help students understand specific social problems and the process of lending assistance (Sachau et al., 2010) Summer Semester Abroad: The summer semester abroad is a 6to 12 week program where students live on campus and take multiple classes. The basic format of the summer session includes class sessions 4 days per week and free time for independent travel 3 days per week. The primary educational goals for this type of trip include helping student gain indepth information about the course topic and increasing student interest in the local country, sites, and people (Sachau et al., 2010) Experiential Learning Margarita Hill (2005) states that all actions of educators, from the selection of reading materials to the scope of the project, are derived from a t heoretical base. Whether we are conscious of it or not, the base teaching theory establishes critical types of relationships that play a central role in cross cultural learning. Not only does it form the relationships between students and t he client, us er groups, or professional base; and so on (p.199) but it also generates the relationships between knowledge and power, and between social cont ext and the professional school curriculum (p.120). In order to structure our international efforts onto a sui table theoretical base, we must begin by evaluating our assumptions and our goals. Michael Tarrant (2012) points out that the first step in fostering global citizenship (a very similar concept to cultural competency) is to assume that good citizens are made and not born, that is, global citizenshi p is a learned and nurtured behavior (p. 442) In following this assumption, we must then understand how and under what conditions global citizenship (and the


30 environmental values, beliefs, and behaviors associated with it) can be nurtured and promoted (p. 442) Tarrant (2012) elaborates by stating: In essence, this means the need for a transformational learni ng process in which new value beliefs, and meanings are created or existing values strengthened (p. 444). This is substantiated by Whalley (1996) who argued that profound learning occurred when it involved the transfor mation of meaning perspectives that were most often associated with a fundamental shift in values and beliefs toward the object; that is, a change in thinking from an emphasis on concrete facts to the abstract: a change in what we kn ow to how we know (Kegan, 2000) (p. 444). There is a range of evidence that suggests experiential education plays an important role in forming the kinds of values that are integral to nurturing global and cultural competencies within international education (Gruenewald, 2003; Hill, 2005; Myers et al., 2005; Tarrant, 2012) Kolb : Experiential Learning, as defined by Kolb (1984) provides the background concept from which the research of this thesis is approached. Kolb believes learning is the process whereby knowledge is created through t he transformation of experience (1984, p. 38) After the learning experience is observed and reflected on, Kolbs learning cycle suggests the next part of the learning process is abstract conceptualization. Once the concepts have been thought about, they are tested in new situations ( Figure 2 1). Kolbs Experiential Learning Cycle lends itself well as a structure for integrating design students into a meaningful international exchange by which they develop cultural competency. In rec alling the definition of cultural competency as being a process that integrates cultural awareness, cultural sensitivity and cultur al skill to gain an applicable understanding of how culture affects the way people vi ew and interact with the world, the str ucture provided by Kolb could be used to implement the acquisition of this skill in


31 students who participate in the concrete experience of an international learning program.


32 Table 2 1 Definitions of Cultural Competency Source Definition (Myers et al., 2005, p. 1 74) Cross cultural learning implies a process in which a student is encouraged to see issues from another cultural perspective. It goes beyond just understanding and developing an awareness and appreciation of another culture. (Campinha Bacote, 2002, p. 181) This model views cultural competence as the ongoing process in which the health care provider continuously strives to achieve the ability to effectively work with the cultural context of the client (individual, family, community). This ongoing process involves the integration of cultural awareness, cultural knowledge, cultural skill, cultural encounters, and cultural desire. (Johnson, Lenartowicz, & Apud, 2006, p. 533) Cultural competency in international business is an individuals effectiveness in drawing upon a repertoire of skills, knowledge, and attributes to work successfully wit h people from different national cultural backgrounds, at home or abroad. Figure 2 1. Kolbs Experiential Learning Cycle


33 CHAPTER 3 METHODOLOGY Questions We are networking, travelling, and communicating across cultural boundaries as never bef ore. Since the way we interact with different cultures plays a critical role to the design profession, are designers adequately prepared to address the unique challenges of affecting built and natural environments in a globalizing world? Is there a way t o help produce better designers who are adept at developing designs that more appropriately address the needs of users outside of our familiar cultural contexts ? In the same way that landscape architects practice and train for situations that require site planning, grading, and planting design, are the existing study abroad programs meeting the needs of the cross cultural designer, and if not, can we adapt them to be better suited to meeting the learning goals? My study abroad experiences have made a significant impact on my personal and professional development. There is a general belief that studying abroad offers unique and distinct benefits/advantages But what exactly makes it good? Or in this case, what helps it to develop the kinds of cross cultu ral competencies needed by designers? T his study draws from the current body of literature focused on the study of cultures, study abroad programs, and educational theory While it seems apparent that study abroad has benefits, educators in landscape archit ecture profession have yet to define what those benefits are, how we use them, and why they matter. Thus, this research attempts to answer the question, How can a study abroad experience develop cultural competency in designers and why is it important? In pulling this question apart,


34 there are actually several questions being asked herewhich calls for at least as many methodologies: 1. How can cultural competency be measured? 2. How can study abroad programs be structured towards achieving the goal of developing cultural competency? 3. What kinds of experi ences lead to the development of skills that enable designers to more appropriate work within cultural contexts not their own? After analyzing the notion of cultural competency, it becomes important to figure o ut how this skill specifically applies to designers in a study abroad program. How do designers interact with the cultural context? What are the specific skills we need to be able to implement successful and appropriate design solutions for a given cultural context? Can an international learning experience be structured in a way to help students develop cultural competencies? By attempting to answer these questions and to understand both student and educators perspectives, it is my hope that this research contributes to furthering the discussion of how to implement study abroad programs with the goal of instilling cultural competencies in designers. Qualitative Approach Method selection is a direct reflection of the researchers paradigm. Pos itivists advocate for one truth there is one right answer to a research question. Such empirical evidence is naturally more geared towards a quantitative method. This viewpoint lends itself well to studying aspects of natural science, which cannot attribute meani ngs to events and their environments (Bryman, 2008) People, however, do attribute meaning and on significant levels. Thus, on t he other side of the spectrum, c onstructivists believe that the concept of truth is contextual; it depends on the viewpoint of the individual rather than something beyond them. As a result, many qualitative


35 researchers express a commitment to viewing events and the social world through the eyes of the people that they study (Bryman, 2008) While the current paradigm regarding research tends to favor quantitative methods over qualitative, not all situations are best understood by analyzing them quantitatively. Quantitative methods greatest contribution to research is that it measures With a consistent device or proverbial yardstick we can categorize, refine differences, establish relationships, and make direct comparisons (Bryman, 2008) Qualitative research on the other hand is criticized for relying too heavily on the subjectivity of the researcher and thus the yardstick loses not only the ability to perform objectively, but al so the ability to be replicated an important step within the scientific method. Yardsticks represent a familiar and unchallenged tool, but a researchers individual experience in studying something as complex as a group of students educational experience in a foreign country leaves itself vulnerable to criticism and questioning. By nature, phenomena that deal with meaning and experience are resistant to quantification, and therefore are regarded as immeasurable (Paley, 2010) Howe ver, measurement does not necessarily require numbers. John Paley (2010) argues that measurement theory only requires a homomorphism between the represented domain and the representing domain. On this basis, maps measure parts of the world, usually geog r aphical locations, and belief statements measure other parts of the world, namely peoples aptitudes (p. 112) For example, consider a bodys to Fahrenheit. To this point Paley (2010) asks, So what kind of claim does an attribution of temperature make? How is the assignment of a number made? What


36 exactly are we doing when we measure anything (p. 112) ? Simply stated, measurement involves two domains, on which X is mapped onto Y. Measurement tools such as inches and temperature are unquestioned, yet their only defense against being considered arbitrary and subjective is that they have been overwhelmingly accepted and standardized by society. There is currently no generally accepted tool that measures cultural competency in desig n education, and this is not surprising given the complexity of the subject and lack of specific research. If we accept culture as a fluid, dynamic and complex product of humans relationship with their environment, then the methods and the measurement should be commensurate with that paradigm. This thesis test s an initial attempt at creating such a measurement, but more importantly, explores the experience of crosscultural learning in order to understand its qualitative importance to design education. Bringing the Methods Together Research, whether qualitative or quantitative, is concerned with developing a better understanding of something that is unknown. Because no single tool is capable of presenting a complete understanding, using multiple tools and methods is a useful strategy to draw from the varying strengths. These tools include literature reviews, indexes, interviews and focus group discussions. The literature review provided the theoretical and practical base from which I approached concepts of cultural competency and design pedagogy. It also structured the development of an index to distribute to participants of an Indonesian study abroad program. While the index could answer questions about the indicators and measurement of cultural com petency it could not answer some of the more quali tative aspects of study abroad. As such I enrolled in the


37 Indonesian study abroad program specifically to better understand how the cross cultural dynamics evolved. Reflections on my experiences as a participant observer were not limited to the Indonesian program. I have attended other study abroad programs, namely in Rome and Panama, which provided insight throughout the process. These experiences in turn helped to structure how to approach both the i nformal interviews and focus group discussions that were conducted at the end of the Indonesian program. By incorporating a further set of interviews from instructors and administrators who direct other study abroad programs the thesis attempts to captur e a broader view of study abroad pedagogy and experience. The literature review explains culture and its importance to the profession in terms of influencing places and identity. The nature of the studio environment is explained, and current understandings of cross cultural education lead to an argument for supporting cultural competency. Experiential learning serves as the background theory for using international education as a means to develop cultural competency. An important element in determining the success of any study abroad prog ram is concern for measurement. B efore participating in the Indonesia program, I developed an instrument to measure the students cultural competency both prior to and after the program. This survey itself exhibits a high level of validity and reliability h owever, in the final application it was limited by the small number of participants Furthermore although the instrument took a qualitative leaning, b y the nature of surveys in general it did not adequately express the qualitative experience of participating in the studio. In order to further develop understanding and insight, I participated in the program as an


38 observing participant and paid careful attention to issues concerning cultural competency that emerged from my fellow students ex periences as well as my own. After documenting these issues I conducted a focus group with my U niversity of F lorida peers at the conclusion of the program This investigation provided a deeper understanding of the study abroad experience more generally The measurement provided by the survey is important. Its validity is confirmed and its value lies in the fact that it is a short, easily distributed way in which levels of cultu ral competency can be assessed. However, it cannot structure pedagogical theory on its own. Participating in the educational experience and having the opportunity to discuss and analyze it with fellow students provided an understanding that extended beyond the quantitative limits of the survey. Each of the methods used helped to inform and develop the other, which produced a richer and more balanced understanding of cultural competency within a study abroad program. The index was developed as a tool to specifically measure the indicators of cultural awareness, cultural sensitivity and cultural skill as components of cultural competency. By analyzing these concepts I was well prepared to act as a participant observer in an Indonesian study abroad program In turn, my experiences in study abroad programs helped to formulate the questions for the focus group. Index Development The survey produced for this thesis specifically measures cultural awareness, cultural sensitivity, and cultural skill as indicators of cultural competency, and represents the most quantitative element of the methodology for this thesis. In order to generate scores, an index was constructed based on the items that were selected from both the literature review and free listing techniques described by


39 Ryan et. al (2000) The i tems for the indicators of cultural awareness and cultural skill were scored on a scale of agreement with 1 being strong disagreement and 5 being strong agreement in r esponse to the statement. The cultural skill items were more complex and required scenar io type questions with six specific responses. The literature on how to construct and score scenariotype questions is virtually non existent. After reviewing the six possible responses, they were group ed into categories of low, medium, and high levels of cultural skill. Understanding that there is more than one way to express skill level, each category (low, medium and high) had two response options. These were scored as 1 being low, and 3 being high. Prior to implementing the instrument, the index m ust go through rigorous cognitive and statistical testing to ensure that only the most useful questions are asked of the participants. Cognitive Testing In our effort to design surveys that are valid and reliable we want our questions to elicit data that represents true values (Collins, 2003) Collins (2003) further specifies that in terms of generating a standardized scientific model and reducing measurement error, the following is assumed: all respondents understand the questions in a consistent way the questions are asking for information that re spondents have and can retrieve the wording of questions provides respondents with all the necessary information they require to be able to answer them in the way required by the researcher where interviewers are being used, they alway s read the questions as worded (p. 230) Cognitive testing is one way of ensuring that the measurement meets these criteria. It also is defined as administering draft survey questions while collecting


40 additional verbal information about survey responses, which is used to evaluate the quality of the response or to help determine whether the question is generating the information that its author intends (Beatty & Willis, 2007, p. 287) Ideally, survey tak ers should be able to consistently comprehend the question, retrieve the relevant information, make a judgment about that information, and be able to respond with the options available (Collins, 2003) Because some of the questions were specific to design and planning fields of study, the contextual specificity is critical when conducting cognitive testing. Several design and planning students who are familiar with the terms and situations outlined in the survey agreed to take the survey for cognitive testing purposes. Because many of the survey questions are focused on measuring universal aspects of cultural competency, students from a University of Florida methods class were also able to offer helpful insight into the survey after cognitive testing, specifically in terms of understanding and critiquing the methodology. Based on Collins (2003) think aloud technique, the testers were given the index and asked to freely comment on any aspects that caused confusion. The reviewers were instructed to skip the design and planning sp ecific questions if they had no background in either field. The cognitive testing ended when no new information seemed to be generated. Changes to the instrument based on cognitive testing resulted in the rewording of questions to ensure the questions c larity, as well as the elimination of several items. Instrument Testing After cognitive testing and refinement of the survey, the index was given to a larger sample of students from College of Design, Construction and Planning (DCP)


41 Analyzing the scores provides insight into the congruent, discriminate and ontological validity of the instrument, as well as discriminatory power. One hundred eleven surveys were collected; the online link to the survey was sent to all graduate and undergraduate students in D CP ; this list embodies the population that would be used for the final survey. Of the 111 completed surveys, 92 were completed and used for statistical testing that analyzed reliability and discriminatory power. At this stage the instrument consisted of 9 items for cultural awareness, 9 items for cultural sensitivity, and 3 scenario items for cultural skill. Reliability Scores for each of the indicators cultural awareness, cultural sensitivity, and cultural skillwere analyzed separately in the statistics software, Statistical Package for the Social Sciences ( SPSS), for reliability and discriminatory power. While it is possible to create a reliable instrument that is not valid, it is not possible to have a valid instrument that is not reliable. First, the reliability of the instrument must be tested. Chronbachs alpha is described as the most widely used internal consistency reliability coefficient (Netemeyer, Bearde n, & Sharma, 2003, p. 11) Several questions were marked for potential elimination based on the fact that if they were deleted, the C honbachs alpha would increase. According to Schmitt (1996), Chronbachs alpha alone may not be enough to indicate reli ability of the instrument. Another test of reliability is the Item Total Correlation, which assesses the correlation between each items score and the total (Viswanathan, 2005). This focuses on the item specific aspects of reliability while Chronbachs alpha assesses the the interrelatedness among item s or sets of items in


42 the scale (Netemeyer et al., 2003, p. 10) Items that exhibited an ITC score of lower than .4 were marked fo r potential elimination from the final survey. After elimi nating the weakest items, both C hronbachs alpha and ITC were analyzed again. After ensuring that the questions again met the criteria, the scores for each indicator were tested for discriminatory power. The final C hronbachs alpha for cultural awareness and cultural sensitivity were greater than .7, and cultural skill was equal to .567. Due to the nature of the scenariotype questions and the fact that there is not yet a reliable or valid system to develop these types of questions, it is expected that the cultural skill items will exhibit less statistical significance. Discriminatory Power In order to assess the discriminatory power, a Mann Whitney U test was applied to the scores. The respondents were divided by their scores in quartiles of the top 25%, the middle 50%, and the bottom 25% for each indicator. The Mann Whitney U was run to compare the top group to the middle group, and again to compare the bottom group to the middle group. Gener ally, a P value of .2 or below is accepted as statistically significant discriminatory power. The pvalue represents the probability that the scores for the two groups are based on chance alone. With the exception of two items, all items had a pvalue of .2 or lower for both high and low comparisons. In many cases, the pvalue was zero. This means that the survey has very high discriminatory power and is accurately measuring the indicators that it intends to measure. Validity Adcock and Collier (2001) discuss the process of scoring the cases for indicators in terms of convergent and discriminant validation. According to the statistical analysis,


43 the scores for each indicator are empirically associated, and thus they have convergent validation. Adcock and Collier (2001) also state that when a hypothesis is confir med by the scores of the cases within the indicator for a systematized construct, this is evidence for construct validity. In this case the scores are confirmed as a valid measure for cultural competency. Further testing would need to be conducted in ord er to better understand the process for validating scenariotype questions. In conclusion, an index to measure cultural competency was generated after extensive literature review and then cognitively and statistically tested as a way to eliminate weak item s and questions. Items that did not meet the standards of clarity for the cognitive test, or the standards defined by the various statistical tests were eliminated. The remaining item s were used for the final index. Final Index The sample for the final i ndex will be six U niversity of F lorida graduate students who are participating in the Indonesia study abroad program These students have varied backgrounds but are associated with the Historic Preservat ion masters degree program at the University of F lor ida The group received the index both prior to and after completing the program. This served as an official test for the index and will shed light on whether or not there was an increase in cultural competency after the participating in the study abroad program. The small number of survey takers will limit the credibility of the survey. The intention is that this test will then enable further refinement of the survey which will be able to be distributed to students of other experiential learning based programs.


44 Interviews and Participant Observation Informal interviews and participant observation are intrinsically linked and their definitions are difficult to distinguish (Bryman, 2008) Both involve the researcher immersing him or herself in a group and observing behavior, listening and participating in conversations, and documenting events. Spec ifically, my role in this study is participant as observer: the fact that I was conducting research wa s known to the other members, but my level of participation wa s the same as with other students While I would not categorize my research as a full ethnography, there are some general principles to this method that were helpful in developing my approach. Bryman (2008, pp. 402403) defines ethnography to mean a research method in which the researcher: is immersed in a social setting for an extended period of time makes regular observation of the behavior of members of that setting listens to and engages in conversations interviews informants on issues that are not directly amenable to observation or that the ethnographer is unclear about (or ind eed for other possible reasons) col lects documents about the grou p develops an understanding of the culture of the group and peoples behavior wit hin the context of that culture and writes up a d etailed account of that setting Participation & Note taking My imme rsion in the studio was predicated on the fact that I was a participant. As I was registered for credits, I was subject to the same expectations for participating and producing a final product as other participants. It can be argued that my direct


45 involvement could taint the study results; I do not contest th is fact. While I was continually aware of this fact and mitigated it as much as possible without compromising my responsibilities as an enrolled student, it is likely that my presence did influence my fellow students. However, this experience was necessary because it allowed me to not only observe while events unfolded, but it also wholly put me inside th e mindset of the student abroad exactly the scenario arou nd which this research is concerned. With regard to ethical as well as practical considerations wi thin qualitative research, the decision of whether or not to dis close the fact that one is a researcher can be difficult to make. People often behave differently when they are aware of being observed and recorded, but the strategies needed to remain cover t and added pressure can limit access to certain techniques For this study, the instructor and participants were aware of my research and knew specifically that I was interested in studying the effects o f crosscultural learning. Still, with the except ion of the focus group, any interactions with the group were intentionally no more intimate or imposing than would naturally be under the setting in w hich I was simply participating For example, i n situations where conversations relevant to my research t opic arose, it seemed un natural to take notes on the conversation at that time. However, situations where students were responding to lectures or other s cenarios where other notes were being taken, it seemed perfectly normal to record those conversations. N ote taking and documentation were done whenever it would not interfere with other responsibilities. These notes were in direct response to an event or something someone said that was relevant to my study or in private reflection after conversations.


46 In terviews Qualitative or unstructured interviews are significantly different from quantitative, or structured interviews Generally, qualitative interviews focus on the interviewee, whereas quantitative reflects the researchers concerns (Bryman, 2008) Because quantitative interviewing relies heavily on structure, aspects such as rambling or go ing off on tangents are highly discouraged in structure interviews for many reasons, especially the difficulty in coding such responses. However, for qualitative interview, the richer responses tend to provide more interesting insights. In an effort to avoid leading the unstructured interviews I conducted throughout the experience, I was very consciously focused on getting a sense of the interviewees personal views on the experience as it was specific to them without asking direct questions regarding skills, awareness, or sensitivity. In preparing for conducting the interviews, Brymans ( 2008) expansion on Kvales (1996) criteria served as a guide. Kv ales criteria for a successful interviewer: knowledgeable: thoroughly familiar with the topic and focus of the interview structuring: gives purpose clear: asks simple and easy questions without jargon gentle: lets people finish, gives time sensitive: list ens attentively and is empathetic open: responds to what is important, and is flexible steering: knows what he or she wants to find out critical: is prepared to challenge what is said, i.e. inconsistencies remembering: relates what is said to what was prev iously said interpreting: clarifies meaning of statements without imposing meaning onto them Brymans additions: balanced: does not talk too much or too little ethically sensitive: aware of ethical dimensions of confidentiality, etc.


47 These responses are then analyzed and ex plored for patterns and themes which influenced the development of the focus group questions. Focus Group The focus group that was sampled from the Indonesia program w as also asked to elaborate on their development of cultural competency in addition to the index since t he study abroad experiences themselves cannot be relegated to a quantitative method. Brymans (2008) criteria for the successful interviewer were also used in formatting the focus group. Participants gathered in an informal area without the presence of the program instructor in an effort to encourage more candid responses. As the interviewer, my purpose was to help guide the discussion, and while I was certainly able to contribute my own thoughts on the experience, any guidance was very carefully implemented only as a way to further elicit the opinions of the group. Expert Interviews Fourteen potential interviewees were selected based on their known experience working with study abroad programs at various universities. They were sent an email outlining the project and asked if they would either like to par ticipate in a phone interview or respond to the interview questions via email. In total, there were two that responded via email and three that participated in a phone interview. Two of the phone interviews were recorded for notetaking purposes. All three tele phone interviewees opted to have their names referenced. The phone interviews were rich with information applicable to this thesis, however, the email responses proved to be less useful.


48 Figure 3 1 Methodology Diagram


49 CHAPTER 4 RESULTS AND DISCUSSION As the study unfolded it becam e increasingly apparent that owing to the complex nature and variability of influencing factors involved in study abroad, the research would need to rely on multiple methods as well as the dynam ic connections between these methods. All the methods exhibited their own strengths and weaknesses, and the data revealed both patterns and inconsistencies. It is this relationship between the methods that is important in elucidating an understanding of the data. Throughout the process each step built upon the other and contributed to furthering a deeper understanding of study abroad programs in design education. The literature review on culture, studio, higher education, learning theories, and qualitative methodologies, gr eatly contributed to framing the approach to the research, especially as it applied to developing the index and focus group questions. Such methods were also influenced by the authors previous experiences participating in study abroad programs. While the index itself is valid and reliable according to social science standards, in the case of applying it to the final group for this thesis, the results are insignificant. Many of the trends seen through the literature review and development of the thesis w ere corroborated through the focus group and informal intervi ews during the Indonesian program In addition, the qualitative experiences of participating in study abroad were cri tical in and of themselves. In particular, the reflections on the Indonesian experiences were framed by the research already conducted on study abroad, and thus were filtered specifically within the context of understanding how such culturebased interactions contribute to the design education. The final part of the


50 process invol ved interviewing a series of experts on study abroad programs academics who have led and coordinated study abroad programs within landscape architecture. The results of the various methods of investigation came together to represent perspectives from bot h student and instructor in objective and subjective terms alike. Does It Work? One of the most important aspects of this research was the thoroughness in which the components of cultural competency were analyzed. The act of stepping back, breaking down, and sifting through aspects of international design education illuminated that this means of evaluation may not have yet occurred for these programs in landscape architecture. The absence of evaluation is expressed in the scholarly literature (Hewitt & Nassar, 2005) and in some cases by the expert interviews conducted f or this thesis. In large part, the lack of published literature on both tailoring and evaluating study abroad programs in design education was the impetus for this research. The idea was that there could be a cycle whereby our lack of understanding of the specific aspects of student l earning that occurs in these kinds of situations feeds into our inability to ask the right kind of assessment questions. If we were to accept that cultural competency was the specific and primarily desired learning outcome for a given stu dy abroad experi ence, then the pre and post s urveys developed for this thesis could serve as a way to measure how the program influenced the development or lack of development in the identified areas of awareness, sensitivity, and skill. However, as a component of the identification and measurement of cultural competency, it is suggested that the program specifically outlines the development of such skills (perhaps through Kolbs Experiential Learning model) within the specific indicators, thereby directly linking the sur vey indicators to the structured experience. With this approach


51 the results of the survey will be much more useful, as the success of elements and corresponding indicators of the program will be more easily analyzed. Interestingly, while there is certainl y a lack of published literature in the field, several expert interviewees specifically mentioned that they rely on literature and research to improve and evaluate their programs. While it seems curious that given our general acceptance of the importance and benefit s of study abroad, educators are not unanimously pursuing its incorporation into design education. W hat is even more surprising is that there seems to be little interest (or perhaps more importantly, little support) in publishing the findings fr om the current research being conducted. Whats Been Said The literature implied and even straight forwardly suggested that due to the lack of (published) evidence and data collection sets landscape architects specifically do not devote the scholarly ef fort required to create and evaluate study abroad programs. While this appears to continue to be the case and is corroborated by some of the expert interviews conducted for this thesis, there were several interviews that suggest the contrary. In discussi ng cultural competency in study abroad programs with academics who are involved in leading and creating such programs, in some cases there is a substantial level of scholarly debate occurring on what constitutes successful learning outcomes for these unique programs. What lacks is published evidence, which one expert interviewee suggests is most likely linked to the fact that study abroad programs do not usually garnish much support in teacher performance reviews such as tenure promotion.


52 Index The student s who participated in the Indonesia program already exhibited a high level of cultural competency This is to be expected as this Indonesia program was voluntary and a decision to participate would have required that the students embodied a certain level of interest in cultural aspects. By nature, this survey is better suited to larger groups of students. Additionally, if the survey was used for an abroad program that was required, the varied backgrounds of the students might contribute to better underst anding the overall trends of the program. In comparing the p re and p ost surveys the results are negligible on awareness, sensitivity and skill ; although in eliciting student s thoughts on the subject through the focus group questions and reflections it se ems that on some levels the students cultural competenc y did in fact increase through specific experiences and reflections. This suggests that while quantitative methods like surveys can be very useful in understanding general trends, they are unable to respond to nuances of changed behavior in the same manner as a qualitative discussion, especially in this context where there were so few participants. It would be interesting to apply the survey to a required program that was specifically developed to fo ster the learning goals of awareness, sensitivity and skill. Group Reflections Not surprisingly, the most intensely discussed aspect of the Indonesian program concerned the local people engaged by the program. The Indonesian s are a remarkably warm and cheerful people Our Institut Teknologi Bandung ( ITB ) classmates extended us the most genuine friendliness and hospitality that I have ever experienced. One U niversity of Florida student even questioned if the roles were reversed, would we have shown them as much kindness and consideration. Working with the ITB students gave


53 us an intimate perspective on Indonesian life. As o ur project team, our tour guides, and our translators: they gave us an in when interacting with locals on our project site. The i mpact of being able to relate to our international peers was a significantly regarded, positive experience. It would be interesting to see this aspect incorporated in other study abroad programs. In some instances, study abroad programs will integrate local faculty and local community members, but joining forces with local design students seems less common. Another key theme that emerged was the concept of West helps East. Many students admitted to anticipating their role as being the helper who would show the Indonesians how to solve their problems. The students quickly realized that in reality they had much to learn, and that the problems to be solved were not so straight forwar d. In her discussion on reflective learning, Hill (2005) points out that, This can liberate us from the juvenile grip of hubris that leads us to think in our overconfident sense of self that we have the best answers, the best assumptions, and the best methods. It can, instead, offer awareness that the guiding "truths" or "principles" we present as professionals are framed by our cultural experiences and thus are not necessarily meaningful when translated to different cultural settings (p.121). It was difficult to interact with our ITB peers and think we knew better t han they did, especially with regard to their country. In that sense it forced us to take the position of guest, and reflect on our own perceptions as we listened to our friends and classmates explain their ideas. This further substantiates the thought t hat such student interactions should be encouraged within study abroad programs.


54 Many of us were also surprised by how welcoming the locals were. It seemed that everywhere we went we were followed by a gaggle of neighborhood kids and encountered bright sm iling faces of people that were more than willing to talk with us and show us things; in some cases even open up their houses to us. Experiential Learning and Program Structure In following Kolbs theory, the structure of an international learning experience could easily be incorporated within the experiential learning cycle. Technically, the nature of the cycle implies that within this process there is neither a starting point nor a stopping point; however, in this sense I disagree with Kolb. Using the example of developing cultural competency, it is unreasonable to assume that one would have the skill to resolve a design or planning problem before acquiring sensitivity to the issues involved. Awareness leads to sensitivity, which leads to skill. It i s a progressive process that builds on the previous indicator. I believe each of these indicators is best fostered at specific points along the learning cycle, and thus argue that the first step in the process of developing cultural competency through the experiential learning model begins with the Concrete Experience. Concrete E xperience : Awareness The first step is critical. A concrete, or solid, experience must foster a sense of awareness. One aspect that became clear from participating in the study abroad programs was that being in a different environment greatly contributed to this experience. Marshall McLuhan is quoted with saying, I dont know who discovered water, but Im pretty sure it wasnt a fish. And why would a fish discover water? It is born in it, breathes it, lives in it, and knows no other environment; its everyday mundaneness hardly instills a sense of wonder or curiosity. In the same manner, it is


55 very difficult for humans to gain awareness of their everyday, takenfor granted environment. As designers, it should be this environment that we wish to understand, for this is essentially what we design and plan. Culture is manifested in habitus or phenomena and any design influence must coincide within this context. The contr ibution of difference to the experience is clearly evident in the focus group responses. Of the U niversity of F lorida students who participated in the Indonesia program four were born and raised in the United States and one born and raised in Asia. In discussing the primary benefits of the Indonesian Studio, the American students expressed that one of the main benefits derived from the experience was that it gave them an introduction to a completely new way of thinking and living. Conversely, the Asian student said the greatest benefit received was the networking connections that were formed. This is not to say that the Asian student did not receive benefit from experiencing another Asian culture, but he was not necessarily introduced to a new way of thinking that would challenge his perspective as a professional When our comfort zone is challenged we grow and expand our p erspectives The experience must introduce the issues at hand in order to begin to foster a personal connection to place. The semester in Rome placed me in a beautiful, but not especially different environment; even my classmates were the same cohort I had been studying with for the previous four years. Particularly if one is a Westerner of European decent, participating in a g roup tour of a gothic cathedral does not inherently constitute a concrete experience. This may be a discomforting statement to some, given that study abroad destinations are predominately based in Europe (Hewitt & Nassar, 2005)


56 This is not to say that European environments are unable to foster a positive learning experience, but they must not fall into the trap of becoming a grand tour. It is important to dis continue the same kind of hegemonic mindset that tends to value euro centric values as the standard. In order to foster cultural competency, the first step in the experience must encourage students to think differently about things; it must connect with place and people and introduce new perspectives. Observation and R eflection : Sensitivity Once we have gained awareness, the experience should begin to foster sensitivity to the issues at han d. As Hill (2005) remarks, The experience often leads students to reflect on their own assumptions, sometimes creating an impetus for change, other times leading to a deeper knowledge of the self. In a cross cultural context, the design process can thus become not only a vehicle for problem solving but also one that can lead students on a transformative journey (p.121). As Crysler (1995) points out, Attempts to broaden students' understanding of the social context in which they operate are vital. However, if students investigate society without questioning the position they occupy in doing so, the role of the distanced expert is reinforced rather than questioned ( p. 314). The project in Panama focused on a n impoverished neighborhood that had experienced sensitive and politically charged events. It was painfully obvious that we were a group of American students, and as such we were frequently subjected to angry outbursts as we walked through the community. We couldnt quite understand why our presence was so unwelcomed, as we were only there to help Our naivety, cultural background, and lack of sensitivity blinded us to the fact that many developing places resent this notion of a oneway developed helps developing perspective Naturally,


57 th e relative hostility made it very difficult to connect to people in a way that w ould challenge us to extend beyond our naive outlook In contrast, the environment of Indonesia fostered greater sensitivity towards place. T his was not necessarily because we, as a g roup of students, were more cognoscente of the fallacies in thinking that the belief that wealth or aid moves from west to east. Rather, the aspect that made us realize the error in this assumed perspective was the local people we interacted with. The friendships that we formed with our Indonesian partners as well as the ove rwhelmingly warm and welcoming attitudes of the Indonesians we met led to an intimate and emoti onal connection to the places in which we lived and studied. This connection was overwhelmingl y cited in informal discussions. In project devel opment and focus group discussions, this observation was identified as being the most positive aspect of the Indonesia program experience. My experiences in Bali following the Indonesian abroad program also highlighted this concept of developing sensitivity to place. Th e Bali Field School program is specifically tailored to encour age a connection to the culture: in a way, I was able to dive in and experience the island in a very intimate way. I followed the cultural excursion itinerary that typically compliments the f ocused service learning activities of the program. While I could only imagine how one would have informed the other, the experience still provided valuable insights. From the cultural and central village of Ubud I made several excursions that highlig hted the beauty of the landscape and the everyday life of the Balinese. I watched as workers harvested and planted rice in the terraced patties. I saw performances of traditional dances and plays, and was fortunate enough to stumble upon several local


58 ce remonies ; one of which was particularly elaborate. I touched and tasted the landscape: I hiked along mountains and beaches, took a cooking class, ate suckling pig at Ibu Okas and while touring a coffee plantation I drank kopi luwak a rare and strong cof fee that is processed with the help of a local mammal. Certainly, it was vacation like and incredibly enjoyable; there were even instances where my field trip specifically denoted hanging out on the beach with a Bintang (beer), but there is a critical d ifference between what experiences constitute tourism and which constitute the kind of learning and connection I was forming with my environment: reflection. Reflecting on what I saw, s pending time in a place specifically to understand it and its influenc e on the people from that place, and being open to new experiences is what formed the connection I have with the island of Bal i. If I made my tour without interacting with the people and places around me and trying to make the connections about the Balinese culture, it wouldnt have been enough of an experience; it wouldnt have had such a profound influence on me. This is where it becomes critical for educators to structure these ki n ds of experiences. It would have been easy to allow myself to be entice d by the tourist offerings of the island of Bali, but the experience would not have had nearly the same impact. In Rome it was easy for us to stay within our comfort zone, speak English, and hang out at the American bar the experiences that really intro duced us to Rome were in large part of our own seeking. Not every student will have the impetus to pursue knowledge of how to find the kind of cultural lens changing experiences that are such a fruitful component of studying abroad. By focusing on formin g a connection to the landscape and people, educators can better create opportunities for reflection and crosscultural learning.


59 Forming Abstract C oncepts : Studio The aspects of the studio were not distinctively measured in this thesis, but they were disc ussed. While the studio environment has been criticized, there are elements of the design process that become important to the discussion of developing competencies. The studio environment is not going away any time soon nor should it. It is a place for collaborative learning and creativity and had produced many succ essful professionals. There is a variety of skills developed in studio that extend beyond the technical requirements of the profession: learning to give and receive criticism, collaborating with peers, preparing thoughtful presentations, time management, and a deep respect of deadlines contribute not just to the professionalism of the student but also to the individual character Additionally, studio cohorts tend to form close personal bonds that extend into networking for their professional careers. Studio is an intense experience characterized by pulling oneself up from a humbling desk crit the day before and working late into the night. It is a critical component of design education. B ut, can it be better? Perhaps the traditional approach to studio should strive further to adapt to the globalized nature of our present time. If the major criticism of studio is that it is insular with the way it relates to other global perspective s, wh y not open it up to explore them? We are already adept at ascertaining and discussing components of the physical context so why not further explore the increasing complexities of culture in a globalized context? For example, consider the critique of the masterapprentice model. A studio based on this model focuses on the master instructor and celebrates the individual creative pupil. If the same studio were to be conducted with the specific purpose of


60 reacting to cultural concerns, the master apprenti ce structure would not be viable. If a studios intent were to develop grading and stormwater technical prowess in students, educators would of course incorporate information on the sites existing hydrology and topography. In the same manner, the perspectives of locals would need to be incorporated in a studio that focused on integrating students in the cultural context. The very act of situating studio education specifically within this mindset of reacting to the cultural elements of place would addres s many of the major criticisms of the traditional studio structure. If the traditional studio model can adapt to the demands of our new globalized context, it would easily become an integral element in the experiential learning process. The actions and pr ocess of design are in and of themselves abstractions and development of ideas and studio is where such concepts are developed. The studio in Indonesia was an interesting environment Because design studios especially are known for their collaborative work e fforts b y having students trained from both Western and Eastern paradigms the projects were able to take on a greater resiliency. By having this cultural exchange through the studio, the Indonesian study abroad experience highlighted the lack of i nter cultural interactions within the Rome Studio. T he se cultural interaction skills exhibit two nuances. On one hand there is a skill needed to generate a successful project based on the needs of the users and the specifics of the site, in other words, communicate with the client and interpret the needs of the place. On the other hand, as designers we must also learn to communicate with other professionals who are products of a different cultural perspective. Teaching


61 students to interact with the cult ural constructs from both community members and professionals is integral to developing cultural competency. Students admitted that on previous abroad programs they had not interacted nearly as much with locals, let alone worked along side them. In the fo cus group discussions the students pointed out that there were certainly communication issues that arose with their Indonesian team members (with regard to both language and cultural differences) especially when working together and making decisions about our design products. However, many students expressed their surprise at how much could be communicated without words. Testing in New S ituations : Skill Margarita Hill (2005) mentions experiential learning, and points out that it is the basis of the studio education where students "learn by doing" and where abstract concepts are applied in a problem solving experience related to their professional training and development (p. 121) Being in the situation where students interact with local cultures, reflec t on their interactions and observations, and work through context specific design problems based on those experiences allows those students to work in an environment that values community involvement over individual creativity (Hill; 2005). The idea behi nd forming new concepts especially in the studio context, is with the intention of having those concepts tested (i.e. implemented) in new situations. Often given the nature of design education there is limited time and resources that prevents studio projects from being extended into the built form. However, concepts can still be evaluated for their efficacy in relating to the cultural context especially with regard to final product This harkens back to the discussion of studio moving away from


62 its ma ster apprentice model so that students are encouraged and evaluated on their abilities to function as designers (with all the technical expertise that implies) in a foreign cultural environment. Expert Interviews Up until this point, the research has been concerned almost exclusively with the viewpoint of the student experiences. I n order to balance this and discover connections more applicable to program design and structure, I was fortunate enough to have some very fruitful discussions with several study abroad program directors. Their insights provided an invaluable perspective on how to approach study abroad design education. Penn States Semester Abroad In the spring semester of the 4th year, students are required to study in Rome, Italy. The studio was developed as an integrated part of the curriculum and was taught by both Penn State (PSU) and local instructors. The primary benefit of this experience lies in the fact that students lived in Rome for four months. We rented apartments in groups, shopped for food in nearby local markets, and in the morning walked to work (studio) alongside our Roman neighbors. For those of us who chose to integrate with the local culture as much as possible we learned about the nuances of our environment and the habit s of people through observation and causal discussions; we strolled through the same plazas and drank the same cappuccinos. For the most part, we lived as Romans or at least pretended to. It did not directly occur to me at the time, but in retrospect it seems clear: besides the fact that we were in a very different environment, the educational experience was very much the same as it was in State College, Pennsylvania. In our studio space we were given a site from Central Rome and given a program to fit onto that site. We


63 participated in field trips to surrounding villas, performed site visits, site analysis, received desk crits and gave final presentations to our professors. We attended lectures given by a local Italian Urban Designer, but for the most part maintained our close knit circle of fellow Penn State students and professors for guidance and suggestions. This familiarity significantly helped with the transition and adaptation to being in a foreign environment, but may not have fully taken advantage of exploring cultural competency issues. It was very interesting to hear Eliza Pennypacker, a Penn State landscape architecture professor who is very involved in the required semester abroad program, echo these concerns in our interview. Penn Sta tes Bach elor of landscape architecture program changed from 4 to 5 year in 1990s. The fundamental tenet of this program was to educate leaders and not to train technicians. The study abroad semester is required and was developed specifically to broaden students perspectives. However, some of the pedagogical intentions had problems in Rome. Students were cocooned and could go through the entire experience without being engaged in culture. Penn State has recently made a significant change to the semester abroad, specifically to address many of the issues previously mentioned. As of 2012, 4th year students go to Bonn, Germany, where they focus on urban design issues. This program uses a 3rd party provider, AIB (Academy for International Education) w hich is based in Bonn. Several aspects of this program are ideal for the landscape architecture programs pedagogical intentions. For example, i n Bonn, the s tudents are no longer led by Penn State faculty, but are taught by local instructors. T his is im portant in getting


64 students to leave the nest and forge ahead into unknown territory. While Penn State professors maintain a close link to their students, the instruction is designated to the local professors, thus exposing students to a new learning and designing perspective. Additionally, students housing is based on home stay. This combined with the fact that Bonn is not generally characterized as a tourism destination and is very much a livable city enables students to interact on a more inti mate level with the German culture. The young program has experienced its challenges, but those involved with the Bonn program believe that they will have a better opportunity to meet their specified learning goals. These learning goals are not published nor quantitatively tested, yet they are the direct result of a dedicated effort to make Penn States program an exceptional place to study landscape architecture. Based on a draft by Penn State Landscape Architectures Ed Abroad Committee, study abroad should promote the following objectives: Professional Growth 1. promote cross cultural competencies that can contribute to increasingly internationalized modes of professional practice; 2. reciprocate; reveal other ways of inhabiting, building and stewarding thro ugh time, with intriguing potential for translation to domestic contexts; 3. over the longer term, stimulate more meaningful modes of professional practice that creatively, empathetically, and collaboratively engages across a broad cultural and socioeconomic spectrum. The Global Citizen 4. provide immersive learning that is culturally, politically, and geographically distinct from any available in the United States;


65 5. stimulate a realistic awareness of, and sensitivity to, cross cultural values, achievements and aspirations, as well as regional inequities and challenges; 6. invite action as designer participants in one place at one time, to the benefit of the whole; Personal Growth 7. compel beyond each students comfort zone, leveraging personal adaptability, tenaci ty, equanimity, and creativity; 8. stretch students sense of the world and their situated role in it; 9. elicit life long commitment to international learning and cross cultural collaboration. The Ed Abroad committee is very active in developing values, goals and a student handbook. The program is also trying to make it easier for landscape arch itecture students to connect to other study abroad programs and explore more options. They are, however, discouraging students from studying in Australia because the environment is too similar to that of the States. One of the influences to the education abroad program that Pennypacker referred to in the interview was Adam Galinsky, a faculty member from Northwestern University, whom she met at a conference in international education. In referencing Galinskys conference presentation on living abroad as a way of enhancing creativity, Pennypacker recalled that there are three scenarios of handling being in a foreign environment: 1. keep your distance: stay American and just get through the process 2. become of that country: be a Roman, remake yourself 3. something in between 1 and 2: na vigate and address challenges Galinsky suggests that it is this middle ground is the most creative. For in this approach, being in a foreign pl ace is almost treated as a design problem: how does one


66 integrate oneself (with all of the accompanying beliefs, paradigms, etc.) into a place that is used by people with an entirely different outlook. By being in this zone it could be argued that is the place in which one must be aware of and sensitive to his or her own cultural understandings and adapt it to be able to integrate with someone elses. Maddux & Galinskys (2009) research has suggested that it is not just traveling abroad but living there that results in this enhanced creativity: Although it is said that travel broadens the mind, in the current studies, we found a r obust relationship between living in and adapting to foreign countries and creativity. This research provides a critical first step toward understanding how foreign living experiences are associated with creativity, with both experience abroad and creativ ity being particularly significant as the world becomes more globally oriented and interconnected. It may be that those critical months or years of turning cultural bewilderment into concrete understanding may instill not only the ability to think outsi de the box but also the capacity to realize that the box is more than a simple square, more than its simple form, but also a repository of many creative possibilities (Maddux & Galinsky, 2009, p. 1060) Pennypacker refers to this study when discussing the challenges of study abroad with her students and encourages them to try to find the inbetween zone when adapting to the foreign environment becomes difficult. In terms of assessing the program, P enn State has not yet developed an assessment strategy, but they want to. In the meantime, the students are constantly being queried about the strengths and weaknesses of the program. When asked about the benefits of study abroad to the future of the profession, Pennypacker stated that global citizenship and global perspective is part of being professional. It isnt just about awareness, its also about understanding and how strategies and designs must be rooted in context. Pennypacker also pointed out that students learn about who they are as Americans. Additionally, based on Galinskys research, there is the issue of creativity that becomes enh anced by living abroad.


67 Service Learning and Design Build At the University of Wisconsin, Sam Dennis s pecifically wanted to lead a service learning and designbuild study abroad program where students go to a Spanishspeaking country that contributed immig rants to the States. For several years he was able to lead a student group to Honduras for a short term study abroad. The desire was for students to experience those li v ing conditions in order to have a better understanding of both sides of the migration pattern. The students spent several weeks in the field during semester break and upon returning enter ed a reflection phase. Dennis specifically focuses on experiential learning. With the Honduras trips, students did not read anything prior to experi encing the place. The material they were given focused on the difference between charity service and partnership. Students were encouraged to think that they were not the rich, white, North Americans coming to save the day but were partnering with the local community. This strategy was derived from Dennis experience working with the Northern Cheyenne. People there are very sensitive about college students coming to do service work on the reservation who have read about everything there is to know abo ut the Northern Cheyenne, so they come in thinking they understand everything. And then they have certain arrogance about them and a certain closedmindedness. By having students do the readings after they return, it becomes part reflection but also part learning about the place you just experienced and put ting that experience in context. The program that Dennis leads has shifted location and is now based in i n Costa Rica The situation for this program is approached differently. There is not the abject poverty seen in Honduras, the education levels of local partners and their capacity for


68 organization is very high, most have college degrees and speak English. Its m uch more of an equal footing and is n ot a source of imm igrants, rather a place where U nited States citizens retire to. In this program, students are assigned readings on tropical ecology, geography and environmental education prior to leaving so that students understand the physical context. The focus of the project is a privatepublic e nvironmental school that has a certain social justice component. Local people were complaining that their children were not being hired for ecotourism in the area, rather the jobs were going to foreigners, specifically North Americans. The school focuses on training local children in English with a strong curriculum in environmental sciences from ages as young as 5. Dennis students work on master planning and designbuild services for the school. Dennis specifically references Kolb, Dewey and James when he coordinated the experiences of the study abroad programs and had to figure out how the pedagogy worked. The idea is that through this learning experience you can bring together, essentially, the people that have the power and the people that dont have the power and through their collective learning, you can try to address the inequality. That was the main idea in Honduras. When asked to identify the most important learning outcome in study abroad experiences, Dennis responded that, I think the most important is just to learn how to lea rn from experienceeveryone knows how to have an experience, right? And they can judge between a negative experience or a positive experience, and they can judge whether through an experience they learned something, but theyre really not mindful of that process. So, one of the goals iswhen we ask them to write reflections


69 were really transparent about what were doing and we teaching a way of experiencing the world deliberately to produce some learning outcomes The point is to unconsciously embody this mindfulness about it. Dennis continues to say that hopefully what they learn in Costa Rica or Honduras translates into their practice when they are working in a marginalized community or a low income communityI ts not about learning content you know, were not teaching stormwater management, were not really teaching trail design or master planning or anything that might be familiar to landscape architecture students. Were teaching how to learn from experience. When asked how the program ensures that students are learning from experience, Dennis elaborated on the debriefing session. These sessions are not scheduled: telling students, we have a debriefing scheduled for 8:00 seemed too rigid and too much li ke school. Rather, these sessions would occur almost as a continuous seminar discussion throughout the whole experience. Questions like How did you feel about that? and How did you react to that? became an ongoing and casual conversation. The students also do formal journaling and processing of their journal upon returning. That product from after the experience is one of the best ways to gauge if students are getting at the learning outcome. When asked if there was an evaluation technique used t hat leans more to the quantitative side, Dennis respond with an emphatic no. Dennis work is focuses on themes T hrough his research he has developed ways to use qualitative data to do program evaluations. Dennis explains how he approaches program evaluation, For example, if I want students to think positively about a frustrating experience. In the frustration comes the learning, thats when your


70 hypothesis of how things ought to be brush up against the experience of the real wor l d. And theres this mis match. Frustration occurs, and that can be a good thing: it could spark new areas of inquiry, it could cause you to drop ideas about the world that really didnt fit the world, and so, I can read that in their writing and I can hear it when they talk about it. And for me, thats as good or better than what any quantitative work can do. I just cant say to somebody, Oh, well, they improved their reflection by 10% or they went from a 2 to a 5 on a Likert scale. I know theres a lot of pressure to s how that to justify the funding for these coursesbut Ive never used quantitative measures. Dennis continues to state that in terms of cultural competency, he could see using a pre and post test to measure levels; its just not what he does to evaluate hi s study abroad programs. In discussing comparing the approach taken towards these study abroad studios to regular studios back home, Dennis says that after the sophomore year while studio projects are not built, all studios are real projects in the real world with the kind of partners that couldnt otherwise afford landscape architectural services. When asked about study abroad s contribution to the profession of landscape architecture and how it will frame practice, Dennis cited that he is already seeing the effects. Many Wisconsin students are hired by firms domestically but then are sent to a remote location for 6 months at a time. Adapting to a new culture, understanding how to talk across cultures or between cultures about design issues, it s a skill that they barely get to work on in these short term study abroad but at least it prepares them for that kind of experience The goal is to internationalize the experience. Thats why I didnt want the European Tour for the students, I didnt want Italy. Thats sort of one theme: looking at developed world, design history, some really forwardthinking environmental stuff, say in Germany or DenmarkI wanted them to go to places where theres not a lot of landscape architectureThe idea is to give them an international perspective. For a lot of the kids here, its the first time theyve had to get a passport.


71 Design Build At Washington University, Daniel Winterbottom leads students on community focused designbuild programs in Guatemala, Bosnia an d Croatia. Typically 10 weeks long, in order to fit within Washingtons quarter system, the program is open to nonlandscape architecture majors and even students from other universities. Students have both pretrip and on site orientations. Each project is based on working with a community: usually one thats been disenfranchised from the mainstream. In addition to working with the community, students also take several field trips to important places in the area to give a broader context in to the archi tecture, history and culture of the area. Living conditions vary depending on the opportunities available, sometimes homestays and sometimes dormitories. In some cases the program is able to team up with nonprofit organizations. The Guatemalan program collaborated with the Safe Passage nonprofit, who has had a presence in the community since 2001. Overall, the program takes students through a very intense process, typically with about one week in the community, 2 3 weeks design and design development, then 6 weeks of construction. Often members of the community will volunteer to help implement the project. When asked about the most important learning outcomes of the program, Winterbottom responded that the students develop: F lexibility, independent thinking, problem solving and in some sense compassion looking through a different lens because of the cultural differences that they have to negotiate. But I would say probably the biggest outcome is learning to be an independent thinker. These learning outcomes are achieved not as much because of location, but specifically due to the communities they work with. In the case of the last program in Croatia, students were working for and with people with extreme mental illness. Of the


72 400 patients in the f acility, not only do they have a variety of illnesses, but they are also coming from different parts of Croatia, each with their own subculture. This environment forces students to question, Who am I and how can I relate to somebody whose environment Im trying to design? Another important aspect, according to Winterbottom, is that they are actually leaving something behind, an amenity or resource for that community. So, its a partnership. It is his hope that these kinds of projects continue on a long term basis. The model of the way the students interact with the community and foster participation is similar to the way studios are conducted back home in Washington however, the major difference is that when abroad, students need to spend more time t o understand the larger system in order to achieve the task at hand. When asked about how these programs affect the future of the profession, Winterbottom replied, Undoubtedly they broaden the viewpoint of the participant. In some cases, their experience you couldnt replicate anywhere elseespecially not in the United States. Theyre looking at landscape architecture, the benefits of landscape architecture, and the process of working with these specific communities through landscape architecture in a co mpletely different lens than how youd look at it here. And, in that sense I think it can only help broaden. I think the role of service for communities in need, having experienced, having seen the results, having seen the value of itI hopereduces the sense of entitlement that is engrained in many Americans, particularly Americans that are going to university. I think it creates a compassion for, if you want to call it the other or those who are somewhat ostracized from the mainstream and as a value makes one more compassion ate hopefully throughout their design but particularly to work with these types of communities. Now, once one sets that up, then the question becomes: is there really an opportunity in the profession to do this? So its a doubleedged sword. We need to change the profession. We dont have a Landscape Architects Without Bordersthats the sort of thing that Id like the next generation to think aboutthe role of landscape architecture as a global practice instead of just in the developed worldThis is what needs to be brought to conferences at ASLA.


73 I see the generation coming up as being more engaged in global issuesalso desiring to participate in these kinds of experiences. And they really do differ from more traditional stu dy abroad. The Patterns Emerge A series of themes emerged from the focus group discussions and expert interviews that become important when thinking about how to structure design education abroad beyond the broader aspects of experiential learning theory Working with Local Students The most commonly mentio ned item in the focus group was the relationships we formed with our local peers. It was this relationship that significantly helped us to see past our own cultural lens and biases. Naturally, languag e and communication become a critical aspect. In Indonesia a majority of the students spoke English very well; even so, breakdowns in communication were to be expected. The focus group did indicate how surprised they were at what they could communicate even without words. It is certainly possible that not all groups will get along as well as we did, but this aspect of study abroad certainly seems to warrant more consideration. Working with local design students is not a common consideration: it is rarely discussed in the literature; focus group participants with other study abroad experience noted that they had not worked with local students in other programs; and it was not an aspect of the programs discussed by the expert interviewees. Perhaps this i s due to the significant amount of c oordination that is needed not just in language concerns but pedagogical intentions and working relationships between instructors, curriculum alignment, etc.


74 Regardless, if we are to prepare professionals to work in culturally different communities, then it seems that not only should t hey have the ability to relate to locals, but also to other professionals who come from different cultural perspective s. Connecting to Community Similar to the relationship formed with our peers, the connection to the local communities in Indonesia was also strong. Conversely, the experiences in Panamanian communities, where we were most certainly not welcome, yielded a large barrier to our ability to emotionally connect to the people in the neighborhood. My speculation is that since sensitivity implies an emotional connection, there has to be a certain level of admiration for and comfort in working with the local people. In an ideal learning situation, students would have the opportunity to form these bonds which would then help them understand anothers perspective Where to Go? The location of study abroad programs seems more opportunistic than not. The expert interviewees explained that much of the decisions revolving around select ing a location were based on whatever connections or logistics they were able to arrange, but within certain requirements for the specific learning goals. Sam Dennis suggests that there are two general types of study abroad experiences: those working with marginal communities (service learning studios, etc.), often in the developing world, and those that focus on sustainability issues of the developed world. In the former category, at the University of Wisconsin, the program in Honduras had the specific i ntention of introducing students to a Spanishspeaking country that is a source of immigrants to the United States. When the program shifted to Costa Rica, the approach changed slightly to better match the nature of the community. Similarly, at the University of Washington,


75 students work specifically with disparate communities with the objective of fostering a sense of global citizenship. Penn States program falls under the latter category. The program in Bonn provides specific opportunities for students to immerse themselves in the daily life of German culture. The program coordinators specifically did not want to send students to a touristy city, but rather one where they could absorb aspects of quality of life and learn to design for issues that ari se in an urban design context. Regardless of the type, the location serves as a critical aspect towards developing the pedagogical intentions not as much because of where but because of what is occurring within these places How Long Shall We Stay? With re gard to the program types discussed above, it seems reasonable that rougher situations that involve cramped living spaces, long working hours and perhaps less developed sanitation utilities would warrant a comparatively shorter stay. The programs at Uni versity of Wisconsin and University of Washington are generally 4 weeks and 10 weeks, respectively. Conversely, Penn States program is a full Spring semester (16 weeks). The Penn State program references Adam Galinskys research regarding how the concept of living in a city enhances creativity if approached as solving a problem. With this as the learning outcome, it seems logical that students would need to spend enough time in the city before being able to develop the desired competencies. This duration may simply not be practical for the programs that are conducted in developing countries. It is not intended to suggest that one focus is superior to the other, on the contrary, it is just another level through which program structure can be carved by pedagogical intention.


76 Did it Work? The interviewees described varying degrees of assessment strategy Dennis specifically mentioned that while there is the pressure to produce quantitative data to show the progress of study abroad programs, his assessment is qualitative in nature, and is based on a constant debr iefing session during the trip. In Penn States case, the homebased professors are very att entive to measuring the pulse of whats going on abroad, but due to the length and fact that Penn Stat e professors no longer lead the studios abroad, it makes it difficult to maintain the kind of qualitative assessment that Dennis is able to employ. Penn State would like to have a formal assessment strategy for their program but currently does not implem ent one Whether qualitative or quantitative, assessment of experiential based learning is difficult due to the extreme number of variables. The Reason Why Broadening perspectives, preparing students to work internationally, and fostering global citize nship these are the reasons cited by expert interviewees on how study abroad is important to the future of the profession. We recognize that there is a need for the profession of landscape architecture to respond to the demands of a globalized world. I n echoing Daniel Winterbottoms comment: why is this not being thoroughly explored in professional conferences? But, What Does It All Mean? What is it, then, that we are trying to instill in design students that participate in study abroad programs? I t seems that what we should be striving for is transformation: not necessarily in the acquisition of technical skills, but in the development of cultural competency. This development involves a series of steps within a process that


77 continue to build on each other as the participant develops a deeper sense of culturally based spatial issues. The experiences offered by study abroad introduce students to the not always so simple fact that people from other cultures relate to place differently: this forms t he basis of an awareness that helps situate students within their own cultural perspective and within the cultural context of the place in which they are working. Sensitivity to culture, place, and the way people relate to their environments on this awareness : relating to the community and empathizing with them are a critical element to instilling cultural competency. This emotional connecti on helps students to abstract ideas through the studio process by encouraging students to see the place though the users cultural lens. Finding this relationship of how local culture affects our perspectives h elps to shape our final design product Whether or not a design is good is predicated upon how well suited it is to the cultural context. In developing cul tural competency through study abroad we are teaching students to design for the cultural context: t his process of developing awareness and sensitivity to perform the skill of design is invaluable in and of itself. While we cannot prepare young professionals for all the cultural challenges they will face in their careers, we can teach them how to learn from these kinds of experiences. In helping to structure this learning, Kolb offers a model of Experiential Learning. When applied to study abroad design education specifically, this four step model of the process for learning from an experience ties in directly to the processes for developing cultural compet ency in designing abroad. The experience is what solidifies students awareness; reflective o bservat ion instills sensitivity; abstraction of concepts can be devel oped through the studio process; and the testing of new ideas is revealed in the


78 design product. From this structure, there are a series of Student Learning Outcomes that became apparent. These outcomes are examples of key competencies that can be fostered throughout the process and are based on fulfilling the goal of helping students generate design solutions that respond to cultural context, as well as teaching them how to learn from experienc e. The product from this thesis is one means by which we can identify the goals of study abroad (cultural competency), structure study abroad experiences in design education (experiential learning) and a set of student learning outcomes that will hopefully be specifically implemented, tested, and further refined as educators in landscape architecture continue to strive for excellence in preparing students to enter the discipline. A Note on Measurement of Student Learning Outcomes Humans are complicated bein gs. Culture as the manifestation of our relationship to place is the result of a complicated web of events and sentiment. We are simply not well suited to be measured by quantitative stand ards since there are too many variables involved. While i t is pos sible to measure levels of awareness, sensitivity and skill as indicators of cultural competency by using quantitative methods in many cases such methods cannot elucidate the subtle and particular transformations that students undergo.


79 Figure 4 1 Findings Diagram


80 CHAPTER 5 CONCLUSION Getting Back to the Problem As designers professionals who have a responsibility to placewe should be prioritizing study abroad experiences as an essential aspect of desig n education and we should be trained to desi gn from within a variety of cultural perspectives. The research suggests that t he benefits of study abroad lie not with the advancement of technical skills, grand tour s or insulated guided programs but with the kinds of meaningful experiences that incite students into the realization that culture is manifested in the landscape and directs the way peopl e relate to their environment. In questioning how to structure study abroad to suit the particular needs and strengths of the discipline, Kolbs experienti al research could serve as a sound model for design education. The experience was the key topic throughout the observations, focus group, and expert interviews. By focusing the educational framework on these kinds of experiences we can encourage students to observe and reflect on such experiences in a way that intimately connects their design solutions to cultural context In this way, the students broaden their perspectives and transcend the cultural lenses through which they view our world. It is this broad perspective to the creative approach that makes designers successful. It is this cultural competency that makes the most out of study abroad experiences. Moving Forward Landscape architects spend a significant amount of time finetuning skills and abilities ranging from the scientific to the artistic We are transdisciplinary and frequently align with planners, architects, engineers, ecologists, and the like. We pride


81 ourselves in our creative problem solving skills, responsiveness to context, and perceptiveness to the layered web of systems that embody our environment. But these systems, whether for better or worse, are changing. Our skill sets are now being challenged by the complexities of an increasingly global context and as we are presented with the opportunities to interact with more places and more people, these skills must adapt to the present reality lest we be left behind. While the concept of transdisciplinarity was considered as a topic, the intention of this thesis was specificall y to focus on cultural competencies. However, this aspect of relating to other professionals became so clearly important to cultural relations in the Indonesian studio, that I would be remiss to neglect its impact. In furthering the research presented here, understanding different professional viewpoints requires similar personal skills in relating to those with different cultural viewpoints. Perhaps in addition to discussing pluralism and cultural skills for working with communities, we should also be f ocusing efforts on how to encourage our students to interact with other professionals from those communities. It should also be noted that cultural differences do not inherently imply international differences. While internationality was the focus of this thesis, it would be interesting to see how experiential learning and the Student Learning Outcomes apply to domestic studio projects. To truly understand a place, you must experience the way the people of that place live their lives. This is the way of t hinking that could be further developed by study abroad. The field of ethnography specifically values the understanding of peoples perspectives and focuses on the qualitative experiences of observation and


82 reflection. When further developing the approac h for structuring the interactions between students and the community, methodologies used in ethnography could provide very practical framework for fostering desired competencies. When it comes to solving the global issues of the world, I can think of few professions better suited to do so. If we can learn how to listen to culture the same way we are trained to listen to the landscape we can enter the next era with a renewed purpose. Many of the academics who pursue aspects of international education d o so out of an admirable passion and conviction that such experiences are invaluable to the profession. Yet, it seems that there is little support or reward for their efforts. In furthering the research from this thesis it would be interesting to underst and the rationale behind this phenomenon with the hope of encouraging the goals and assessment information for study abroad be built upon and further explored by the academic community. It is the hope of this author that this research serves as an instigat or for discussion within the academic community and how to take advantage of the learning potential that study abroad experiences offer. In building off of the research, the next step would be to integrate the learning model with the development and imple mentation of a study abroad program which is consequently tested and further refined. Perhaps study abroad should be required for an accredited degree in landscape architecture, just as studios on plant design, site planning and construction are required. It seems that adapting our skills to service the realities of the world is important to the survival of our profession. It is the hope of this researcher that cultural


83 competency and similar learning outcomes will eventually serve as a focused goal that is integrated within design curriculums. These skills are essential as we begin to understand the people for whom we are designing. What is it that we must incorporate from cul ture into the places we make? In our sensitivities to understanding our relat ionship to our environments, w hat is it we desire to learn from our search ? What is it that we design for if not the dreams and challenges driving its people and the lives and passions of those who inhabit place?


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87 BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH Lauren Stubbs received her B.L.A from the Pennsylvania State University. After working in a small planning and landscape architecture firm in South Florida, she further pursued her educati on in the field of landscape architecture at the University of Florida. Her interests revolve around international education within design and planning fields and ethnography.