Wiersma‐Mosley, J. D., & Garrison, M. B. (2022). Developing intercultural competence among students in family science: The importance of service learning experiences. Family Relations.
The purpose of this study was to develop interculturalcompetence among Family Science undergraduate students through high‐impact experiences. Background: Service learning (SL) is a form of high‐impact experimental education that promotes learning and development by engaging students in real‐world activities that address both individual and community needs. Methods: Participants were 82 undergraduates enrolled in two similar Family Science diversity courses at a mid‐South university in the United States. Curriculum for both courses were identical, except one group of students participated in SL at one of five community agencies: boys/girls club, community center working with children, center for adults with disabilities, a primarily Hispanic middle school, or a homeless shelter. Students in both courses completed pre‐ and post‐assessments using the Intercultural Development Inventory to measure intercultural competence. Results: Students without SL opportunities did not significantly increase in intercultural competence whereas students who participated with SL increased significantly in their intercultural competence. Conclusion: It is imperative that Family Science continue to emphasize SL because meaningful interactions with community partnerships have been shown to provide culturally relevant education and deep experiential learning opportunities for students. Implications: As a result, Family Science students will more easily transition to their chosen professions and will be better prepared to increase intercultural competency and to work toward dismantling racism and promoting social justice for all.