Mindfulness, Motivation, and Intercultural Competence Among Faculty and Staff: Examining Impacts of the Global Partner Certificate Workshops

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By Shengli Dong, Aleksandra Nesic, Christina Colgary, Jadelyn Martinez & Jessika Guerard | There is a great need to foster the intercultural competence of faculty and staff within higher education. Faculty and staff need to provide opportunities for holistic engagement to international students in order to enhance diversity benefits; however, the factors that elucidate intercultural competence warrant investigation. This article discusses in detail a study examining the correlations of motivation, mindfulness, and intercultural competence among faculty and staff through the framework of self-determination theory. Participants included 18 faculty and staff who completed Global Partner Certificate workshops offered at a large public university in the southeastern United States. The workshops included a 12-hour training across four sessions. Results of the study suggested that mindfulness and intrinsic motivation may have a positive impact on intercultural competence. Participants who had a higher level of intrinsic motivation demonstrated relatively higher intercultural competence after the training. Notably, participants who completed the training sessions demonstrated significant increased levels of mindfulness. The article discusses implications of the current study in light of incorporating motivational and mindfulness strategies in intercultural trainings as well as considerations for increasing the timeframe of the intercultural training workshops.

Author Note

Shengli Dong, Department of Educational Psychology and Learning Systems, Florida State University; Aleksandra Nesic, Cultural-Conflict Psychology, U.S. Army John F. Kennedy Special Warfare Center and School; Christina Colgary, Department of Educational Psychology and Learning Systems, Florida State University; Jadelyn Martinez, Department of Educational Psychology and Learning Systems, Florida State University; Jessika Guerard, Department of Educational Psychology and Learning Systems, Florida State University.

Correspondence regarding this article should be addressed to Shengli Dong, Associate Professor, Department of Educational Psychology and Learning Systems, Florida State University, 1114 W. Call Street, Tallahassee, FL 32303. Phone: (850) 645-0344. E-mail: sdong3@fsu.edu

Smiling woman gestures in a meetingGlobalization has become an academic trend in higher education in the 21st century (Altbach, Reisberg, & Rumbley, 2009). According to the Institute of International Education (IIE) (2018), the number of international students in the United States has been increasing at an average rate of 6.1% every year since 2006; during the 2016-2017 academic year, approximately 1,078,822 international students studied in the United States (IIE, 2018). With this influx (Altbach & Knight, 2007; Crockett & Hays, 2011; Fischer, 2009), faculty and staff need to work with international students constantly, in light of their benefits to U.S. campuses, local communities, and society (Hegarty, 2014; Luo & Jamieson-Drake, 2013). Specifically, faculty and staff should gain intercultural competence in an effort to stretch their boundaries and engage with individuals of different languages, ethnicities, and cultural backgrounds (Holmes & O’Neil, 2012). Intercultural competence is especially relevant to those interacting frequently with international students, who often experience difficulties in their respective transitions and need help in the process (Crockett & Hayes, 2011; Lee & Rice, 2007). Furthermore, faculty and staff are often considered role models or mentors of intercultural competence for their students (Paige & Goode, 2009); thus, they must advance their understanding of this role and of intercultural competence itself (Paige & Goode, 2009).

Intercultural competence is a complex construct and therefore difficult to define. Although no single agreed-upon definition exists (Perry & Southwell, 2011), many of the current definitions of intercultural competence share four common dimensions: “knowledge, attitudes, skills, and behavior” (Perry & Southwell, 2011, p. 455). Each of these four dimensions relates to one’s ability to interact effectively with others from different cultures. Additionally, Lloyd and Härtel (2010) identified three subtypes of intercultural competence which include cognitive, affective, and behavioral aspects. The cognitive aspect refers to one’s ability to perceive and interpret information; the affective aspect relates to feelings, attitudes, and personality traits; the behavioral aspect is associated with behaviors that people used when interacting with individuals from other cultures (Lloyd & Härtel, 2010).

It is critical to foster institutional curriculum and professional development in attempts to enhance intercultural competence for faculty and staff in higher education (Helms, 2015). Rizvi and Walsh (1998) stressed the significance of professional development around intercultural competence as a crucial indicator of the success of universities’ globalization efforts. Such efforts—for instance, in the areas of international program and research partnerships, promotion of student exchange, and services for international students—have been integrated into the missions and strategic plans of colleges and universities, allowing research, service, and teaching to come together in all functions of the institution (Andrew, 2012). Thus, an institutional curriculum that provides intercultural competence development is important not only for students, but also for faculty and staff to foster globalization initiatives (Andrew, 2012).

Intercultural competence may be taught across curricula and professional development opportunities (Perry & Southwell, 2011), and as faculty and staff increase their intercultural competence, it will be reflected in their curriculum, attitudes, and personal experiences (Helms, 2015). An earlier literature review by Mendenhall et al. (2004) revealed that intercultural training programs typically range from two to 50+ hours over the course of one day to eight months. For example, the Internationalizing the Student Experience Project (ISEP) offered 10 professors a two-day interactive workshop titled “Excellence in Cultural Experiential Learning and Leadership” (EXCELL) (Mak & Kennedy, 2012). The program sought specifically to improve access competence (i.e., help-seeking) as well as negotiation competence (i.e., expressing disagreement) (Mak, Westwood, Ishiyama, & Barker, 1999). It was found that participants’ intercultural competence, attitudes, and awareness regarding internationalization efforts significantly increased after completing the workshop (Mak & Kennedy, 2012).

Despite the aforementioned impact of intercultural training on intercultural competence, the process of how intercultural competence is developed and what factors contribute to the acquisition of such competence still warrants further investigation (Holmes & O’Neil, 2012). Arasaratnam and Doerfel’s (2005) study suggested that five particular qualities are associated with intercultural communication competence: motivation, global attitude, ability to listen well in conversation, empathy, and intercultural experience/training. In addition, Deardorff (2006) maintained that attitudes (i.e., openness, curiosity, empathy and respect) represent a fundamental starting point for the development of intercultural competence. Further, Mak and Kennedy (2012) encouraged future examinations of the relationship among attitudes, awareness, and intercultural competence. To better understand the changes associated with such attitudes, applying self-determination theory (SDT) may highlight if there is an association between one’s levels of motivation and mindfulness and their intercultural-related awareness, attitudes, and behaviors (Deci & Ryan, 1985, 2008).

According to SDT (Deci & Ryan, 1985, 2008), self-determined individuals are autonomously motivated, guided by their fullest internalized values. Conversely, non-self-determined—that is, extrinsically motivated—individuals are thought to be less persistent in learning; thus, their levels of performance and competence are lower than those who are intrinsically motivated. Based on this theory, Guay, Vallerand, and Blandchard (2000) proposed four different types of motivation to reflect a spectrum based on the degree of internalization of values: (1) intrinsic motivation, (2) identified regulation, (3) external regulation, and (4) amotivation. The last three types reflect extrinsic motivation in varying degrees of self-determination. Identity regulation is thought to be a process whereby individuals identify the match between their own values and chosen activities; however, this type of motivation is still extrinsic since one’s chosen activities are not performed for their own sake but represent a means to an end (Guay et al., 2000). External regulation refers to a process whereby individuals engage in certain activities to gain external rewards or avoid negative consequences (Guay et al., 2000). Individuals guided by such motivation may deem their activity as an obligation (Guay et al., 2000). Lastly, amotivation refers to a psychological state in which individuals do not perceive any contingency of their engagement in a given activity; their behaviors lack intentionality (Guay et al., 2000). Thus, amotivated individuals often experience feelings of inadequacy and lack of control, and such self-perceptions are considered similar to the psychological effects of learned hopelessness (Abramson, Seligman, & Teasdale, 1978; Guay et al., 2000). Motivation can therefore be viewed as an indicator of autonomy based upon the notion that individuals may demonstrate various types of motivational states along the spectrum of intrinsic-extrinsic motivation (Guay et al., 2000). Notably, autonomy is linked with mindfulness through awareness (Guay et al., 2000). Self-determination theory maintains that (1) autonomy is considered one of the bases of psychological need, and the degree of autonomous functioning depends on awareness (Deci & Ryan, 2008). Mindfulness, as a self-reflective state of mind open to one’s own internal thoughts, feelings, and emotions, has thus been defined as a type of awareness by SDT researchers, and has been associated with autonomous or internal motivation (Deci & Ryan, 2008; Radel, Sarrazin, Legrain, & Gobance, 2009).

Many researchers have also identified the significance of motivation and mindfulness in transforming cultural knowledge into skills (Earley & Ang, 2003; Tuleja, 2014; Wiethoff, 2004). For instance, Wiethoff (2004) inferred that motivation to learn in diversity training programs is essential to an individual perceiving the positive benefits of increasing their cultural knowledge. Additionally, Earley and Ang (2003) discussed motivation as a critical facet for adapting to different cultural norms and values; that is, motivation is needed to successfully transfer acquired knowledge and adapt it to different cultural environments (Earley & Ang, 2003). Regarding mindfulness, Tuleja (2014) proposed that the concept of mindfulness comprises a vital link between knowledge and behavior in developing intercultural competence, suggesting that mindfulness may be useful in further conceptualizing the components involved in intercultural competence.

Investigating the dynamics and mechanism of intercultural competence is imperative considering globalization trends in higher education (Sanderson, 2008). Research in this area could identify potential factors that colleges and universities should consider when fostering intercultural competence in the process of establishing internationalization efforts. Despite the importance of exploring the association of motivation and mindfulness with intercultural competence, little research has been conducted in this field. Rather, mindfulness, motivation, and intercultural competence have been studied mainly in relation to MBA students completing immersion experiences and employees completing diversity trainings (Tuleja, 2014; Wiethoff, 2004). In addition, the intercultural training literature has overwhelmingly examined intercultural competence from the perspective of students/trainees rather than faculty and staff (Hall, Ainsworth, & Teeling, 2012). To the best of our knowledge, no previous study has been conducted that examines the associations of mindfulness, motivation, and intercultural competence among faculty and staff in higher education settings.

The overall purpose of this study was to examine the associations of motivation, mindfulness, and intercultural competence among faculty and staff who participated in the Global Partner Certificate workshops at a large public university in in the southeastern United States. The study also examined the impact of the program on intercultural competence, mindfulness, and motivation among participants.

Method Participants

Eighteen administrative staff and faculty members participated in the study by attending training sessions of the Global Partner Certificate workshop at a research-one university in the southeastern United States in spring 2016. The participants differed in gender, race, professional position, degree level, citizenship, and previous cultural experience. Of the 18 participants, 16 (88.9%) identified as female and two (11.1%) as male. Among the sample, 14 (77.85%) individuals were White, two (11.1%) were Black, one (5.5%) was Middle Eastern, and one (5.5%) was Biracial. The highest degree of education attained was reported as follows: two (11.1%) high school diploma, seven (38.9%) bachelor’s degree, seven (38.9%) master’s degree, and two (11.1%) doctorate degree. Position levels were represented by two (11.1%) full-time faculty, one (5.6%) part-time faculty, 13 (72.2%) full-time staff, and two (11.1%) part-time staff. Of the 18 participants, 16 (88.9%) were U.S. citizens, and two (11.1%) were not. Fourteen (77.8%) reported having previous intercultural experiences, while four (22.2%) had no previous intercultural experiences. Participants also came from different departments or offices on campus, including Biological Science Department, Dean of Students, Housing, and Sociology. Additionally, the participants represented a range in the number of years they had worked for the university, from less than one year to 10 years.


The Global Partner Certificate workshops included a 12-hour training across four sessions. The program content follows the developmental model of intercultural sensitivity (DMIS) (Bennett, 1986, 1993). The DMIS charts development in six stages along a continuum of broad frameworks from ethnocentrism to ethnorelativism. Ethnocentrism, according to Bennett (1993), is a stage in which individuals possess only their own cultural worldview and are unable to construct and experience other people’s cultural differences (Hammer, Bennett, & Wiseman, 2003). Ethnorelativism refers to a stage in which an individual attains the ability to construct and experience cultural difference in more complex ways (Hammer et al., 2003).

The design of the Global Partner Certificate workshops progresses from easier cognitive and conceptual learning during Session I to more experiential and higher level cognitive, affective, and behavioral learning during Session IV. In Session I, “Bridging Cultures I: Introduction to Intercultural Communication,” participants learn the fundamental concepts of intercultural communication (e.g., direct and indirect communication styles) and cultural characteristics, such as high and low context, individualism and collectivism, high and low power distance, and other cultural traits that help participants understand some of the fundamental ways in which people from various cultures communicate (verbally and nonverbally). In addition, Session I helps participants develop an awareness of their own cultural identity and recognize intercultural diversity at the university. Session II, “Bridging Cultures II: Cross-Cultural Encounters,” emphasizes real-life cross-cultural situations and engages participants in a variety of simulation activities. Participants also complete self-assessments, the Intercultural Sensitivity Scale, and other related scales, and learn how to develop strategies for more effective cross-cultural engagement. During the second session, participants are invited to self-reflect and to engage in dialogical learning with each other and the resources provided. The self-reflection also provides participants with an opportunity to reflect meaningfully on their level of comfort when engaging with diverse people and on their motivation to explore diversity around them. In Session III, “Managing Intercultural Conflict,” participants are introduced to various styles of intercultural conflict management and negotiation processes. Given that diversity often leads to conflict due to lack of knowledge and awareness of others, developing and acting upon stereotypes in an ethnocentric way is common across diverse campuses. To that end, participants learn how to assess their cultural-conflict management style in order to be more effective when managing conflicts across cultures. Finally, Session IV, “Developing Global Competence and Lessons Learned,” addresses the process of becoming more globally competent through the DMIS’s stages of developing intercultural sensitivity. Participants are invited to engage in learning about various stages of developing competence and to reflect on their assessment of their own levels of competence. Participants share their experiences and lessons learned from their ongoing cross-cultural engagement and training sessions, and provide suggestions for future training. In addition to the required 12 hours of training over the sequence of four sessions, participants in this study were also required to attend three intercultural events on and off campus.


Participants who attended the Global Partner Certificate workshops were asked to fill out a pretest survey at the beginning of the first training session. At the end of the final workshop training session, the participants were asked to complete an online posttest survey. Each survey took about 10 minutes to complete. The researchers asked the participants for permission to use their responses to pretest and posttest surveys for the purposes of the study. Participants were also informed that whether or not they granted this permission would have no effect on their grades or their ability to obtain a certificate. On both the pretest and posttest surveys, participants were asked to enter an eight-digit number (composed of the month and year of their birth and the last four digits of their phone number) as their anonymous participant ID to match the surveys. After the last training workshop, the researchers merged the two datasets by matching the ID numbers of the pretest and the posttest. The ID number information was removed from the dataset after the data were merged.


The pretest and posttest survey questionnaires included items such as demographic information, namely gender (i.e., male, female, transgender), ethnicity (i.e., Caucasian, Black, Latino/a, Asian American, Native American, Pacific Islander, and Other), age, position title (i.e., faculty, full-time staff, and part-time staff), citizenship/country of origin, department/administration unit where a participant was employed at the time of the study, highest educational degree earned (i.e., high school, associate, bachelor’s, master’s, doctoral degrees), and number of years employed at the university. In addition, the participants were asked to complete the scales described in the following sections.

Toronto Mindfulness Scale (TMS). The TMS is a 13-item instrument that measures one’s state of mindfulness within a given time period, specifically during and after a mindfulness exercise (Lau et al., 2006). The TMS has a Cronbach’s alpha of .95 in a sample of individuals with and without meditation experience (Lau et al., 2006). The TMS contains two factors of curiosity and decentering. The curiosity subscale contains seven items, including “I remained curious about the nature of each experience as it rose” and “I was curious about what I might learn about myself by taking notice of how I react to certain thoughts, feelings, or sensations.” The decentering subscale contains six items such as “I was aware of my thoughts and feelings without over identifying with them” and “I was more concerned about being open to my experiences than controlling or changing them.” Each item is framed positively and has been shown to correlate with self-awareness measures (Lau et al., 2006). For the current study, the Cronbach’s alpha level ranged from .86 (pretest) to .83 (posttest).

Situational Intrinsic Motivation Scale (SIMS). The SIMS (Guay et al., 2000) is a 16-item scale measuring underlying reasons for participating in an activity. It consists of four subscales (intrinsic motivation, identified motivation, external regulation, and amotivation), with four items corresponding to each of the subscales. The Cronbach’s alpha for each of the subscales was as follows: intrinsic motivation = .95; identified regulation = .80; external regulation = .86; amotivation =. 77 (Guay et al., 2000). It was normed in the population of French Canadian college students (44% males, 56% females) with a participant mean age of 18.9 years (Guay et al., 2000). Each of the items is scored on a 7-point Likert scale, ranging from 1 (“does not correspond at all”) to 7 (“corresponds exactly”). Respondents were asked, “Why are you currently engaged in this activity?” The intrinsic motivation subscale measures behaviors engaged in based on the pleasure derived from performing them (e.g., “Because I think that this activity is interesting” or “Because this activity is fun”). The identified motivation subscale measures behaviors valued and perceived as being chosen by oneself, but the chosen activity is a means to an end (e.g., “Because I believe that this activity is important for me” or “By personal decision”). The external regulation subscale measures behaviors motivated by rewards or by avoiding negative consequences (e.g., “Because I am supposed to do it” or “Because I don’t have any choice”). The amotivation subscale measures behaviors that are the least self-determined due to a lack of contingency between behaviors and outcomes (e.g., “There may be good reasons to do this activity, but personally I don’t see any” or “I don’t know; I don’t see what this activity brings me”). For the pretest and posttest, the Cronbach’s alpha levels for the subscales were as follows: intrinsic motivation (pretest = .91, posttest = .95), identified regulation (pretest = .76, posttest = .93), external regulation (pretest = .69, posttest = .82), and amotivation (pretest = .73, posttest = .34).

Intercultural Sensitivity Scale (ISS). The ISS (Chen & Startosta, 2000) measures intercultural communication competence using a total of 24 items. The overall scale was reported to have high internal consistency, with a .86 reliability coefficient in a sample of 414 college students (152 males, 262 females; mean age, 20.65 years) enrolled in basic communication courses. The instrument has also been used for purposes of professional development such as assessing the culture-related skills of business executives in both Germany and the United States (Graf, 2004). The ISS consists of the following five factors: (1) interaction engagement (e.g., “I have a feeling of enjoyment towards differences between my culturally-distinct counterpart and me” or “I enjoy interacting with people from different cultures”); (2) interaction attentiveness (e.g., “I am very observant when interacting with people from different cultures” or “I try to obtain as much information as I can when interacting with people from different cultures”); (3) respect for cultural differences (e.g., “I respect the ways people from different cultures behave” or “I respect the values of people from different cultures”); (4) interaction enjoyment (e.g., “I often get discouraged when I am with people from different cultures” or “I often feel useless when interacting with people from different cultures”); and (5) interaction confidence (e.g., “I am pretty sure of myself in interacting with people from different cultures” or “I can be as sociable as I want to be when interacting with people from different cultures”). A higher score on the ISS scale indicates a higher level of intercultural communication competence. The alpha levels for each of the factors were .79, .58, .79, .59, and .60, respectively (Fritz, Möllenberg, & Chen, 2002). Each of the items is scored on a 5-point Likert scale, ranging from 1 (“strongly disagree”) to 5 (“strongly agree”).

For the present study, the pretest Cronbach’s alpha levels for the subscales of interaction engagement, respect for cultural differences, interaction confidence, interaction enjoyment, and interaction attentiveness, and the total scale in the sample were .70, .70, .58, .28, .51, and .83, respectively.  For the posttest, the Cronbach’s alpha levels for the subscales of interaction engagement, respect for cultural differences, interaction confidence, interaction enjoyment, and interaction attentiveness, and the total scale in the sample were.90, .29,.86, .81, .80, and .91, respectively.

Research Design and Data Analysis

This research study was based on a within-subject repeated measures design. Pearson correlations were initially used to examine the associations of mindfulness, motivation, and intercultural competence among participants. In addition, paired t-tests were used to compare and contrast the pretest and posttest results.


Preliminary analyses showed a number of correlations among the study variables, their subscales, and correlation changes between pretest and posttest. The correlation between mindfulness and amotivation was found to be positive and the highest (.264) among all the motivation statuses at the pretest, while this correlation was found to be lowest at the posttest, exhibiting a negative correlation of -.252. Increases in correlations among intrinsic motivation, identified regulation, and mindfulness were observed at the posttest, though the highest increase occurred between external regulation and mindfulness. Similar correlation patterns were observed between mindfulness subscales (curiosity and decentering) and motivation subscales. Increases in correlations were found between the two mindfulness subscales and intrinsic motivation, identified regulation, and external regulation respectively; correlation decreases were found between the two mindfulness subscales with amotivation.

Increases in correlations between mindfulness/subscales and ISS/subscales were also observed pretest and the posttest. Notably, pretest correlations revealed that the intercultural sensitivity subscale of interaction enjoyment was inversely and significantly associated with the motivation subscale of external regulation. The same correlation was found to be positive though not significant at the posttest. Post correlations further showed that interaction attentiveness was strongly and positively associated with mindful curiosity at the posttest.

Increases in correlations between intrinsic motivation and ISS/subscales were found in posttest in comparison to pretest. The correlation between intrinsic motivation and ISS was negative (-.207) at pretest, while the correlation became positive (.228) at posttest. The highest increase in correlation was found between intrinsic motivation and the ISS subscale of intercultural confidence. Intrinsic motivation was strongly and positively correlated with intercultural confidence at posttest. Moreover, increases in correlations between identified regulation and ISS/subscales were found at posttest in comparison to pretest. Increases in correlations between external motivation and ISS/subscales were also found at posttest in comparison to pretest. However, decreases in correlations between amotivaion and ISS/subscales were found at posttest in comparison to pretest. All Pearson’s product-moment correlations, significance values, and descriptive information are presented in Table 1 and Table 2.















1. MT

2. MC


3. MD



4. IM




5. IR





6. ER






7. AM







8. ISS








9. IEG









10. RCD










11. IC











12. IEJ












13. IA



















































































Note: MT = Mindfulness Total; MC = Mindfulness-Curiosity; MD = Mindfulness-Decentering; IM = Intrinsic Motivation; IR = Identified Regulation; ER = External Regulation; AM = Amotivation; ISS = Intercultural Sensitivity Total; IEG = Interaction Engagement; RCD = Respect for Cultural Difference; IC = Intercultural Confidence; IEJ = Interaction Enjoyment; IA = Interaction Attentiveness

Table 1. Bivariate Correlations Among Pretest Variables















1. MT

2. MC


3. MD



4. IM




5. IR





6. ER






7. AM







8. ISS








9. IEG



















11. IC











12. IEJ












13. IA



















































































Note: MT = Mindfulness Total; MC = Mindfulness-Curiosity; MD = Mindfulness-Decentering; IM = Intrinsic Motivation; IR = Identified Regulation; ER = External Regulation; AM = Amotivation; ISS = Intercultural Sensitivity Total; IEG = Interaction Engagement; RCD = Respect for Cultural Difference; IC = Intercultural Confidence; IEJ = Interaction Enjoyment; IA = Interaction Attentiveness

Table 2. Bivariate Correlations Among Posttest Variables

A paired samples t-test was used to determine whether there was a statistically significant mean difference between pretest and posttest in mindfulness, motivation, and intercultural sensitivity. Participants reported significantly higher scores in mindfulness at posttest training compared to pretest training: mindfulness curiosity (post: M = 21, SD = 5.164; pre: M = 12; SD = 7.188, p < .05), and mindfulness decentering (post: M = 19.143, SD = 4.488; pre: M = 9.571, SD = 5.63, p < .05), and total scores (post: M = 40.143, SD = 9.008; pre: M = 21.571, SD = 12.164, p < .05). In terms of motivation, participants reported an increase in their score of intrinsic motivation and a decrease in their scores of extrinsic motivation at posttest compared to pretest, though not statistically significant. Finally, no significant difference was found for intercultural competence. All t values and significance levels are reported in Table 3.




t value

p value





1. MT







2. MC







3. MD







4. IM







5. IR







6. ER







7. AM







8. ISS







9. IEG







10. RCD







11, IC







12. IEJ







13. IA







Note: MT = Mindfulness Total; MC = Mindfulness-Curiosity; MD = Mindfulness-Decentering; IM = Intrinsic Motivation; IR = Identified Regulation; ER = External Regulation; AM = Amotivation; ISS = Intercultural Sensitivity Total; IEG = Interaction Engagement; RCD = Respect for Cultural Difference; IC = Intercultural Confidence; IEJ = Interaction Enjoyment; IA = Interaction Attentiveness

Table 3. Within-Group Test of Significance for Pretest and Posttest


The current study aimed to examine the associations of motivation, mindfulness, and intercultural competence among faculty and staff prior to and after completing the Global Partner Certificate workshops, as well as the impact of the training on participants’ intercultural competence, mindfulness, and motivation.

The increases in correlations between intercultural sensitivity and both mindfulness and intrinsic motivation at the posttest, and increases in correlations between mindfulness and intrinsic motivation, indicate that mindfulness and intrinsic motivation may have positive associations with intercultural competence. Specifically, participants who had a higher level of intrinsic motivation demonstrated relatively higher intercultural competence after the training. The results confirmed Wiethoff’s (2004) finding: Intrinsic motivation was positively related to desired intercultural skills after the diversity training. Furthermore, participants who had a higher level of mindfulness demonstrated a higher tendency to be intrinsically motivated and a low tendency to be amotivated after the training. In a similar vein, participants who had a higher level of mindfulness also exhibited increases in relatively higher motivation statuses, such as intrinsic motivation and identified regulation. This is good news because the training might have shifted the correlations between mindfulness and motivation statuses. However, the relatively high correlation between mindfulness and external regulation at the posttest may indicate that the relatively short training model in this study may not have changed participants’ motivation statuses.

The study showed that the training had a significant impact on mindfulness and its subscales as evidenced by the posttest results as compared to the pretest results. The current results seem to validate results of Tuleja’s (2014) study, in which students in business education enhanced their mindfulness level after the intercultural training. Furthermore, relatively high increases for intrinsic motivation were found after the training.

Notably, the study did not show that the training yielded a significant increase in intercultural competence. Several reasons may have contributed to this. First, the training might not have had a significant impact on intrinsic motivation, which could be crucial for enhancing intercultural competence. The study revealed relatively high correlations between external validation and ISS and its subscales, which may indicate that the primary drivers of participant engagement in intercultural interactions were related to extrinsic, rather than intrinsic, factors. The low posttest correlations between intrinsic motivation and ISS subscales (intercultural engagement and respect for cultural diversity) may potentially explain why the training might not have impacted the factors necessary for fostering intercultural competence. It might be relatively easy to enhance an individual’s awareness, enjoyment, and perceived confidence; however, it may take additional efforts to increase one’s actual intercultural engagement behaviors and their respect for different cultures. Second, intercultural sensitivity needs time to increase. Mendenhall et al. (2004) observed that intercultural training programs often increases cultural knowledge and satisfaction, but does not necessarily change behaviors and attitudes. Graf (2004) discussed the significance of developing effective designs for intercultural training programs and reported that short-term culture sensitivity training can be effective in increasing cultural awareness and knowledge. However, Graf (2004) also emphasized that the intercultural training module should be designed for a prolonged period because intercultural sensitivity and appropriate behaviors in intercultural situations must be trained gradually.


There were several limitations to this study. First, results may be subject to the objectivity and accuracy of the survey responses considering the self-report nature of the surveys. Second, although the ISS (Chen & Startosta, 2000) has been widely used in previous research to assess the cultural attitudes of people from different career fields and cultural backgrounds, these studies have focused almost exclusively on college students, with few exceptions for professional development. Furthermore, some of the subscales of ISS (i.e., interaction enjoyment and respect for cultural differences) demonstrated low alpha levels. Third, the sample size of this study was relatively low and was recruited from one university. Thus, generalizability of the study results is limited.


The findings in this study provide four noteworthy implications for future intercultural trainings. First, given that a posttest correlation revealed a relationship between intrinsic motivation, mindfulness, and intercultural sensitivity, universities may consider incorporating interventions to target intrinsic motivation in intercultural training. Specifically, intercultural training may include motivational interviewing (MI) strategies to enhance participant readiness for change and to address ambivalence (Miller & Rollnick, 2012), particularly around intercultural situations. Of note, MI is typically referred to as a type of counseling that encompasses a range of techniques targeted for helping individuals to examine and resolve behavior change ambivalence (Lundahl, Kunz, Brownell, Tollefson, & Burke, 2010; Miller & Rollnick, 2012). This approach helps individuals identify their willingness, or readiness, to change as well as the consequences of not changing, with a non-judgmental focus (Miller & Rollnick, 2012). Although such strategies are readily utilized in relation to health-related behaviors, particularly substance abuse (Lundahl et al., 2010), it may be of interest to examine how such strategies affect one’s internal or external motivation to engage in intercultural training. Second, training programs may require more experiential events and activities that encourage participants to interact face-to-face with individuals from other diverse cultural backgrounds. Third, mindfulness practices such as meditation and deep breathing can be introduced as potential components in intercultural training. Fourth, given that pretest to posttest changes were not observed in regards to intercultural competence, the current study may support increasing the timeframe of the 12-hour Global Partner Certificate workshops. In line with recent evidence from Mak and Kennedy’ (2012, EXCELL Program, universities may consider adopting an extended period of time for assisting administrative staff and faculty members incorporate intercultural competence into their everyday managerial responsibilities and classes.

Future studies should consider assessing intercultural trainings with a larger number of participants as well as crafting intercultural training experimental designs to examine motivational, mindfulness, and intercultural competence differences. Comparative studies should also be conducted to compare and contrast the effectiveness of intensive short-term and extensive long-term training modules in effecting intercultural competence. Such research and practice may therefore enhance the dissemination of globalization efforts across a range of higher education departments and settings.


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Author Biographies

Shengli Dong: Ph.D., is Associate Professor in the Department of Educational Psychology and Learning Systems at Florida State University.  He holds a Ph.D. in Counselor Education (with a focus on rehabilitation) from University of Maryland College Park. His current research focuses on workplace and academic accommodations, transition issues to work and postsecondary education for youth with disabilities, mindfulness in counseling, multicultural counseling, and social justice in counseling.

Aleksandra Nesic, PhD is a Research and teaching professor of Cultural-Conflict Psychology at the US Army JFK Special Warfare Center and School (USASOC/SOCOM)Dr. Nesic is also a visiting professor for the Combatting Terrorism Fellowship Program at the Joint Special Operations University, MacDill AFB, USSOCOM. She received her doctoral degree in conflict analysis from NSU and is currently researching psychosocial causes of radicalization, extremism and terrorism and strategies for building individual and community resilience to violent extremist organizations.  

Christina Colgary,  is a doctoral candidate in the Combined Counseling Psychology and School Psychology program at Florida State University. She is from New Jersey and received her B.S. in Psychology at Saint Joseph’s University and her M.S. in Experimental Psychology at Seton Hall University. Her clinical and research interests include disease/negative mental health prevention and health promotion, with a focus on self-harm behaviors (suicide, non-suicidal self-injury, and disordered eating).  

JadelynMartinez,  is a doctoral candidate in the Combined Counseling Psychology and School Psychology program at Florida State University. She is originally from Kailua Kona, Hawaii but grew up in Arizona before earning her B.A. in Psychology at Whitman College and her M.A. and Ed.M. at Teachers College, Columbia University. Her clinical and research interests have focused on topics of multiculturalism and adolescents, with a focus on identity and multicultural competence among college students. 

Jessika Guerard, is a doctoral candidate in the Combined Counseling Psychology and School Psychology program at Florida State University. She is from Quebec City, Canada and received her B.A. in Psychology at the University of Tampa. Her clinical and research interests include current assessment practices of school psychologists working with English-language learners.