My Audit Trail

An audit trail of my research and learning during my MPEd program.

Get Started. It's Free
or sign up with your email address
My Audit Trail by Mind Map: My Audit Trail

1. 3. Increased Understanding of the Topic

1.1. Two different topics surfaced in my search to promote more equitable service for clients:

1.1.1. Intercultural Competence The Summer 2016: Models of Intercultural and Cosmopolitan Learning course was integral to developing my understanding of intercultural competence and its development. Intercultural competence is the “ability to communicate in an effective and appropriate manner with people from different cultural backgrounds” (Alexander et al., 2014, p. 14) Bennett's Model of Intercultural Sensitivity (1993) is one of the developmental models presented to us during Summer 2016. The main interactions and skills that make up the model include communication, perspective-taking and identity flexibility (Dimitrov et al., 2014). Based on the degree a person demonstrates and embodies these actions, the person can be evaluated and placed along one of the six developmental stages. Learners can also move through the stages through competence training. These stages are as follows: However, competence does not only exist as an individual trait, but exists in relation to existing power hierarchies and prejudice (Martin & Nakayama, 2015) Competence is normally developed in formal workshops or integrated into pre-existing curricula (Barker & Mak, 2013; Dimitrov et al., 2014; Maganlal et al., 2012; Woods, Barker & Daly, 2004)

1.1.2. Online Learning Our most recent course--Intersession 2017: Engaging Digital Learning in a Globalizing World--provided me with plenty of materials to better understand online learning as a valuable approach to intercultural competence. Use in the Workforce To Promote Engagement To Promote Meaning Making

2. 6. Designing the Research Framework

2.1. Designing the framework was informed by the Fall 2016 course: Conducting Site-Based Research in Intercultural Settings

2.2. The basics of Action Research informed the initial construction of a research plan (Cohen, Manion & Morrison, 2013; Parson, Hewson, Adrian & Day, 2013)

2.2.1. The coursework itself throughout the program has provided multiple instances for reflection and the redesign of the framework based off of the reiteration of the main research problem.

2.3. Additionally, my focus on equity guided the inclusion of which aspects of intercultural competence I would focus on in the development of my framework. As such, I avoided assessment on culture-specific knowledge, even while this is an aspect of intercultural competence (Deardorff, 2011).

2.4. The final research framework was composed of two surveys

2.4.1. Pre-Assessment of Coworkers Many authors use a pre-assessment of intercultural competence in order to design effective training materials in their specific contexts. Barker & Mak, 2013 Deardorff, 2011 Dimitrov et al., 2014 Hammer, 2015 Maganlal et al., 2012 Woods, Barker & Daly, 2004 This pre-assessment was broken into the following categories: Background Information Cultural Identity and Self-Awareness Intercultural Communication Skills Ability to Empathize and Role Flexibility

2.4.2. Peer Survey This survey was part of the course requirements in Intersession 2017. This survey's goal was to determine if my cohort peers are engaged themselves in online learning, the benefits or drawbacks they perceive in online learning, and the degree to which they believed intercultural competence could be developed online. This allowed me to focus my research on addressing these concerns and identifying tools to increase engagement online.

2.5. Multiple resources in survey design were consulted when developing the research instruments (Check & Schutt, 2012; Parson et al., 2013)

2.5.1. A variety of question types were used, including: Closed-ended multiple choice Closed-ended multiple choice were mostly used to gather demographic information about each participant. Other multiple choice questions offered multiple answers, to allow participants to share conflicting emotions or opinions. Likert-scale type questions The scales used in both surveys included: Given the complexity of intercultural competence, Likert-scale type responses were used extensively given their ability to narrow responses to a finer degree than a traditional multiple choice or yes/no question. Open-ended responses "Other" categories were incorporated into some closed-ended multiple choice to gather additional information if the choice was unavailable for the participant True open-ended responses were very influential in gathering the insights of each individual in their own words.

2.6. These indirect methods of collection were chosen due to the ease of dissemination as described by Check & Schutt (2012) and Deardorff (2011). Please see the next section for further discussion: "7. Alternatives for Data Collection and Analysis."

3. 8. Collection of Evidence

3.1. Intercultural Competence Pre-Assessment of Coworkers

3.1.1. This survey was distributed to my former team of 12 representatives and six support staff (staff in training and development/assistant managers/other assistant team leaders). This distribution was chosen in order to not disrupt service. Leaders were also sampled as per Martin & Nakayama's (2015) arguments about the systemic nature of competence. My former team was chosen to decrease the impact of power relations within the study (Mooney & Evans, 2015). As I am a support staff member, I have a direct impact on staff evaluation. I could not distribute the survey to a team outside of my area of business without going through a formal ethics approval. Due to logistics, I stayed within my line of business even given the power relations at play. If I had distributed the survey to my current team, participation may have been interpreted as required or as a way to ensure better evaluations. Additionally, staff may have been more likely to represent themselves in a different way if staff interpreted this survey as having the potential to impact their formal evaluations.

3.1.2. One standard message was sent to all participants with the survey link (housed on Western University's Qualtrics Survey Software) The use of Qualtrics ensured response security. Specific instructions ensured less disruption to regular business. The standard message also highlighted how participation was voluntary and that results would not be used as a form of staff evaluation, but for the purposes of my education and potential improvements to call centre training.

3.1.3. Respondents had two weeks to respond (February 9, 2017 to February 23, 2017) This shorter timeframe again ensured less disruption to service but also flexibility for respondents. It also kept my project on time for the Winter 2017 course requirements.

3.1.4. Qualtrics allowed for data to be stored and collected for review at a later time through an online login.

3.2. Collaboration with my Peers

3.2.1. A message was posted with a link to the survey developed and distributed using Survey Monkey. The two choices for our survey tool were either Google Forms or Survey Monkey. I chose Survey Monkey as I have not used it in the past and I wanted new ICT experience.

3.2.2. This survey was distributed over a one week time frame (May 14, 2016-May 21, 2017) This week long response period was mandated by the Intersession 2017 course requirements.

3.2.3. Survey Monkey allowed for data to be stored and collected for review at a later time through an online login. Please continue to "9. Interpreting Evidence."

4. 10. Conclusions from the Body of Evidence

4.1. Based on the research and data collected in this program, I believe that continuing in my development of an intercultural competence development module, composed of both online and an in-class modules, is an effective way to promote and increase equity in my workplace.

4.2. With my staff at an overall minimization of difference stage of development, I will be focusing modules on challenging participants to examine the privilege of dominant groups and increase their own cultural self-awareness.

4.2.1. One of the activities I hope to incorporate is a dialogue broken into sections. Participants will be asked to state their interpretations, or inferences, at each stage. This activity was initially developed by myself during Summer 2016 but is now also supported by Coghlan & Brannick's (2014) suggestion to improve first-person dialogue as a pathway to improving cultural awareness.

4.3. Ultimately, I hope that my modules will be used in my workplace. If this is not the case, then I hope to retain the modules for use in the future if I am to change organizations or pursue a form of educational consulting over the course of my career.

4.4. There will be some driving and opposing forces to my modules' implementation that I will highlight in my force field and gap analysis. Please return to my ePortfolio by following the arrow and link to view this information; you will need to login to OWL if you are not already logged in.

5. 1. Starting Philosophical Position

5.1. Equity and Neoliberalism?

5.1.1. These notions were presented to me during Fall 2015: International Education in Global Times and Winter 2016: Mapping Discourses of International Education.

5.1.2. Under the neoliberal point of view, the notion of equity “can be viewed, … as simply implying formal access to provisions without any examinations of the social and economic conditions that permit such access” (Rizvi & Lingard, 2010, p. 76) This can be referred to as consumer democracy, or the democracy of choice (Rizvi & Lingard, 2010). In theory, everyone has the ability to purchase and make decisions themselves. However, providing the options does not ensure the system itself is equitable.

6. 2. Search for a Philosophical Stance

6.1. I was better able to make sense of how I understood equity during the Intersession 2016 course: Language, Identities, Power & Pedagogies

6.2. My understanding of equity:

6.2.1. The needs of all are met via the recognition and understanding of each individual's multiple identities, needs and memberships to imagined communities (Cummins, 2000). This understanding supports collaborative over coercive relations of power (Cummins, 2000). The previous understanding of equity favours coercive relations of power; the needs of the dominant consumer group are met instead of the entire population. My philosophical stance developed to one of the educator and professional as someone who practices equity through identifying and improving inequitable systems. For example, in the call centre, clients who do not speak English or French as an L1 still belong to the imagined community of clientele and L1 speakers. As they belong to this community, their needs must be met as must the needs of any client. Side note: "imagined community" here refers to Carroll, Motha & Price's (2008) use of the term. The term was first coined by Anderson (1991) when referring to nation building.

7. 4. Identification of the Research Problem

7.1. How can online learning and in-class training modules be developed to promote increased intercultural competence in the corporate call centre setting?

7.1.1. This ultimate problem developed from the resolution of the following questions: How can I develop an intercultural competence development workshop? Resolved during Summer 2017 when we developed intercultural workshops for our contexts. I was able to develop three activities: a case study, a role play and a conversation analysis. Coghlan & Brannick (2014) specifically advise this kind of reflection on inner dialogue throughout a conversation can help change cultural assumptions. How can intercultural competence be assessed? Resolved during Fall 2016 and Winter 2017 through the development of a pre-assessment survey for distribution at my workplace. What is the current intercultural competence level of staff in the call centre? Resolved during Winter 2017 when my pre-assessment survey was distributed. How can online training be used to engage learners in intercultural competence development? Resolved during Intersession 2017 as I developed an initial prototype PLR. (Click the arrow to follow the link).

8. 5. Key Themes in the Literature

8.1. Equity

8.1.1. Founding basis for both intercultural competence and eLearning; both share the "goal of promoting opportunity for all people" (Resta & Laferrière, 2015, p. 744). Digital Equity The goal is for all to have the access, knowledge and skills to use ICTs to improve his or her own life (Resta & Laferrière, 2015) Intercultural Competence Goal is to promote awareness of privilege, especially at the minimization of difference stage (Bennett, 1993). By raising awareness of privilege, and promoting the skills required to empathize with others, systems can be restructured to promote cultural equity (Resta & Laferrière, 2015)

8.2. 21st Century Skills (Lee et al., 2017)

8.2.1. Everyone needs to be able to live, learn and succeed in the globalized and knowledge-based economy (Rizvi & Lingard, 2010). The skill set required is defined through the 21st Century Skills framework (Lee et al., 2017).

8.2.2. This framework contains three groups of skills: Learning and Innovation These include the following skills as listed by Lee et al. (2017): Life and Career Skills These include the following skills as listed by Lee et al. (2017): Digital Literacies Digital literacy can be broken down into three types of literacy (Lee et al., 2017)

9. 9. Interpreting Evidence

9.1. Pre-Assessment of Coworkers

9.1.1. Referencing Bennett's (2004) indications of what learners do and say at each stage informed the construction of each question in the survey and also its interpretation. I developed extensive tables during Winter 2017 for every question determining how each response is related to a specific skill and how Likert-scale type responses could be placed along the intercultural development scale. The overall finding was that staff are at a minimization of difference stage as per Bennett (1993); they have highly developed communication skills, but when the open-ended responses were reviewed, it was clear to see that the non L2 French or English client is othered: Staff seemed to feel overall uneasy in interactions with L2 clients, with some staff choosing adjectives like, "annoyed," "anxious," "nervous" and "frustrated" to describe how they feel when they first detect an L2 English or French accent. Staff were able to identify the correct communication techniques for intercultural settings. This being said, staff are already heavily evaluated on communication skills in the call centre. Participants did show an ability to empathize with L2 clients, such as the majority responding that an L2 client "may feel worried" if the client is unable to receive service or is having difficulty due to a language barrier. Staff also selected (12/14 responses) that they feel they are often or always able to relate to callers. Staff genuinely seemed as though they wished to help L2 French or English clients; however, staff did not perceive any implications of privilege or power over L2 clients. Staff justification of why they use certain conversational tendencies, such as, "I will sometimes let ESL callers know that their English is very good, no problem to understand, which encourages them/feel proud," clearly exemplifies this phenomenon. A final multiple choice answer of with a majority (53.3%) "maybe" to, "Do you feel you could benefit from additional intercultural training" also solidified the mid-range level of competence I found in staff.

9.2. Collaboration with my Peers

9.2.1. There is a video explaining the results of my peers' contribution that you can find by clicking on the arrow. The video was developed for Intersession 2017. However, in summary, my peers agreed that there should be a use of digital technologies in learning. My peers also suggested that I use more than just online methods as part of my intercultural training, based on their own experiences. The hesitation some of my peers displayed towards online intercultural training caused me to investigate the ways in which certain digital tools could be used to increase engagement and yet not over-simplify intercultural competence. This collaboration guided my research in many ways during the development of a prototype module for the Intersession 2017 course. The results of this research and collaboration will be influential as I develop my final set of modules for my final PLR. This prototype was developed via Google Forms. If you click on the arrow, you will be able to view the prototype.

10. 7. Alternatives for Data Collection and Analysis

10.1. The original desire when designing the research framework was to use a mixed methods approach coupling both direct and indirect methods of data collection, as suggested by Deardorff (2011).

10.1.1. This approach would have provided us with more data to better understand the nuances of exactly which stage of competence participants presented themselves.

10.1.2. Direct methods include learning contracts, critical reflections and measures of performance (Deardorff, 2011). Unfortunately, we were unable to use direct methods, although these approaches would have been beneficial in pre-assessment. Critical reflections were not explicitly used; however, the incorporation of open-ended responses in the pre-assessment survey allowed reflection on participants' intercultural practices. Measures of performance were difficult to implement without formally approaching senior management to train them on intercultural awareness, then subsequently receive their feedback on participants' performance. Additionally, as staff are already constantly monitored and evaluated, adding intercultural awareness conflicted with pre-existing developmental goals individually planned for each representative and their leaders.

10.2. Other indirect methods that were considered included document analysis and observation (Deardorff, 2011).

10.2.1. Call analysis and evaluation was one potential approach I planned on incorporating during the Fall 2016 proposal for this project. However, this was not possible due to client confidentiality; my workplace was unable to release call recordings for my personal use. This being said, I initially became aware of the need for increased intercultural training due to my evaluation of calls in my role at the call centre. I continue to come across instances where I can informally check understanding and train individuals on increasing competence.

10.2.2. Observation was, unfortunately, also not an option given my role in the call centre. As I already evaluate staff, taking notes and observing them during informal conversations between staff would create a further power imbalance and a decrease in trust.

10.3. With my peers, the only true way to collect data for analysis was using an online survey as my peers are located globally. However, I could have also referenced peer reflections and responses during our two years of discussion and taken that into consideration as I developed my training materials.

10.3.1. While I did not actively pursue this approach, I am positive that the summation of all of my interactions with my peers' reflections and experiences have had a significant impact on my research design and decisions. Please proceed to "8. Collection of Evidence."