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Ku, Heng-Yu

Second Advisor

Ku, Heng-Yu

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The present study examined the lived experiences of in-service kindergarten–12 (K–12) teachers participating in Intercultural Competence for Educators professional development. Intercultural Competence for Educators is a curriculum designed to foster intercultural friendship development and grow educators’ intercultural competence (IC). The study aimed to explore the stories of eight K–12 teacher participants’ experiences in IC activities and investigated four research questions: Q1 What generic skills do in-service K–12 teacher participants assert are needed to grow interculturally competent? Q2 What cultural knowledge do in-service K–12 teacher participants gain from experiencing intercultural competence professional development? Q3 What self-knowledge do in-service K–12 teacher participants achieve from experiencing intercultural competence professional development? Q4 What values do in-service K–12 teacher participants place on intercultural competence professional development? Participants in the study included eight in-service K–12 teachers from a small, midwestern city and a large midwestern city in the United States. The IC training was conducted in a rental space equipped with comfortable seating. Data collection occurred through reflection journals, artifacts, and qualitative phenomenological interview methods. Reflection journals elicited first-person descriptions of the eight in-service K–12 teacher participants' lived experiences in real-time. Participants created artifacts throughout the professional development that provided insight into in-service K–12 teacher participants’ values and beliefs and acted as catalysts for interviews. Lastly, open-ended interviews were conducted after the professional development to reveal the eight in-service K–12 teacher participants’ attitudes, values, and beliefs. Interviews were audio recorded, transcribed, and analyzed for themes. Data analysis included descriptive coding and emotion and value coding. This phenomenological inquiry indicated that teachers benefit from engaging in activities that include both the epistemological and ontological aspects of IC (Witsel & Boyle, 2017). Themes of character, openness, active listening, and asking questions emerged as generic skills required to become acquainted with someone new. The major themes that emerged for developing cultural knowledge were relationships, commonalities, and environment. Self-knowledge themes were participants’ ability to articulate their principles and cultural influences on biases. Lastly, teacher participants expressed uncertainty about changed worldviews and acknowledged multiple perspectives based on one’s experiences and cultures. Discussion of the study's findings connects to current literature and theory in IC. The study's findings are limited to the lived experiences of eight in-service K–12 teachers and affect reliability. Triangulation and thick description were employed to establish reliability. The findings of this study suggest several important implications for teacher education programs. I offer recommendations regarding integrating IC into teacher education programs, including immersive intercultural experiences in teacher education programs, engaging teachers in reflecting on their cultural biases, beliefs, and attitudes, and defining what it means to be an interculturally competent teacher. Finally, I offer recommendations for future research.


183 pages

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Available for download on Sunday, August 03, 2025