Methods of Increasing Intercultural Competence in Emerging Interior Designers: An Educational Intervention that Works


The noticeable shift in interior design practice towards understanding issues of emotional and cultural intelligence offers opportunities for educational programs to provide industry change by increasing the levels of emotional and cultural intelligence of emerging interior design practitioners. The use of intercultural competence (ICC) as part of critical professional training in many fields aligns to the aforementioned idea, as ICC seeks to understand how professionals functionalize their understandings of cultural differences into solutions that are appropriate for their end-users. The hypothesis is that it is possible to change students’ ICC through strategic course-level curriculum intervention. Based on this hypothesis, this paper reports the results of an academic intervention intended to increase interior design students’ intercultural competency. The intervention engaged students enrolled in an undergraduate, theory-based lecture course in learning experiences related to community spaces, social justice, global issues of design, and sustainability, intended to improve ICC levels. The research design utilized the proprietary Intercultural Development Inventory (IDI) survey as a pre- and post-test instrument to measure ICC levels before and after the intervention. Results, utilizing a chi-square analysis of data, revealed a significant ICC change at the individual level. Specifically, data indicate the interventions 1) gave students a deeper understanding and insight of their culture and cultural norms; and 2) allowed for significant positive movement along the IDI continuum. The results indicate a positive relationship between course-level curriculum interventions and ICC levels, which supports the hypothesis that it is possible to change students’ ICC through strategic academic intervention.


Taneshia W. Albert
Assistant Professor, Consumer and Design Sciences, Auburn University, Alabama, United States

Lindsay Tan

Courtney Brown

Mayuko Nakamura


Presentation Type

Paper Presentation in a Themed Session


Design Education


Intercultural Competency, Interior Design, Interior Design Education, Intercultural Development Inventory

Digital Media


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