Understanding how adult educators become interculturally competent practitioners
Hixson, Millard Timothy
MetadataShow full item record
The purpose of this study was to understand how adult educators perceived they became interculturally competent practitioners. More specifically the research focused on adult educators from the United States who had become interculturally competent practitioners in Latin America in general and in Peru in particular. The process of becoming interculturally competent has been researched to discover behavioral changes or components of the process, such as skills or characteristics. However, this study is distinct in its examination of intercultural competence within the parameters of adult education practice. A qualitative, phenomenological research design was used. Fourteen adult educators originally from the United States but with intercultural teaching experience in Peru participated in in-depth interviews. The phenomenological method was appropriate for this study because it provided a means of exploring and understanding the phenomenon of becoming competent to teach adults in a Latin American context. Three categories demonstrated how an adult educator becomes an interculturally competent practitioner. First, Readiness occurs prior to the intercultural teaching experience and involves the influence of family and friends, personal commitment, training and education, and previous intercultural experiences. Immersion into a host culture is the second category and consists of the adult educator adopting a role of a learner, communicating in the local language, acting in the community, and teaching in the host culture. Teaching in the host culture is distinct to adult educators in which they collect culturally relevant material, adapt their teaching methods, and teach collaboratively with host educators and community members. Reflection on experiences in Immersion is the third category where the adult educators gain knowledge and make changes based on what has been learned about their own performance in relating to and teaching in the host culture. Three factors influence the process: family and organizational support, the sojourner's teaching philosophy, and the reception of the adult educator by the hosts. This is an interrelated process in which the categories and the factors are not isolated but interactively lead towards intercultural competence as a practitioner.