Impact Study - CQ in the Classroom

Queensland University of Technology (QUT) Business School

Challenge

Queensland University of Technology (QUT) is a public university in Brisbane, Australia with 50,800 (2019) students across undergraduate, postgraduate and non-award programs. The QUT Business School has long recognized the need to prepare students for work in the increasingly globalised work environment.

Most Australian employers report that university graduates are ill-equipped to work with people from different cultural backgrounds. QUT is determined to change that with their graduates.

Solution

In 2015, the QUT Business School developed a course called Bridging Cultures. The course is designed to prepare students for work in globalized, multicultural work environments. The course provides theoretical frameworks for understanding and interpreting differences in cultural behavior and communication, together with developing students’ cultural intelligence (CQ). In addition, as part of a four-year degree, students are required to complete one year overseas.

The QUT Business School worked with the Cultural Intelligence Center to develop CQ interventions that integrate with existing curriculum, including:

  1. Cultural insight presentation – due in class prior to cultural immersion program (30% of the unit grade)
  2. Cultural intelligence report and reflection on CQ Pre Assessment results – due in class prior to cultural immersion program (30% of the unit grade)
  3. Reflective journal (due four times during cultural immersion program) on CQ Pre/Post Assessment results (40% of the unit grade)

Results

Based on CQ Pre/Post Assessment scores, all 132 students showed a significant improvement across CQ Drive, CQ Strategy and CQ Action. Qualitative insights revealed that 83 percent of students saw the greatest increase in CQ Drive, signalling an improvement in their self-confidence and resilience for working in a diverse environment. This is an important finding given that research has signaled the difficulty in building resilience in the classroom.

In addition, students overwhelmingly noted that the exchange experience, combined with exposure to CQ, gave rise to intrinsic motivation and a subsequent desire to learn more about inter-cultural environments. Analysis of student satisfaction reveals the course quantitatively achieves an average of 4.6 (out of 5) while qualitative post-course surveys indicate that students have commented overwhelmingly positively on the integration of CQ into the course. Specifically, students commented positively on their ability to: learn about how individual values and CQ profiles can influence attitude and behavior; achieve increases (in general) across the CQ dimensions; proactively develop skills and strategies to assist when problems arise in diverse situations; and, importantly, gain a global career in a culturally diverse environment.

The improvement in CQ is especially important given that higher cultural intelligence scores serve as a predictor of strong job performance in culturally diverse environments.

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