Self-Efficacy in Intercultural English Language Use, Intercultural Communicative Competence, and Frequent Intercultural Encounters through Study Abroad? An Examination of Omani Arab Students' Intercultural Perceptions and Lived Experiences Abroad
Date: 7 March 2022
University of Exeter
Degree of Doctor of Philosophy in Education
This explanatory quasi-experimental sequential mixed-methods research examined the impact of study abroad in the UK, the US, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand on Omani students’ Intercultural Communicative Competence (ICC), Self-Efficacy in Intercultural English Language Use (SEIELU), and Intercultural Interaction Frequency (IIF). ...
This explanatory quasi-experimental sequential mixed-methods research examined the impact of study abroad in the UK, the US, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand on Omani students’ Intercultural Communicative Competence (ICC), Self-Efficacy in Intercultural English Language Use (SEIELU), and Intercultural Interaction Frequency (IIF). Meaningful intercultural engagements were considered the key to further development of the intercultural competencies under study (Meier & Daniels, 2013; Schartner & Young, 2020), approached through a newly developed model, Developmental Model of Intercultural Communicative Competence (DMICC), and subsequently new measurement scales used as pre- and post-tests: a 58-item multidimensional ICC scale, a 14-item unidimensional SEIELU scale and a 3-item IIF scale. The quantitative (foundation) inquiry was followed up by a qualitative inquiry through the use of semi-structured interviews and a survey open-ended question for an in-depth exploration of the key quantitative findings. The quantitative study sample included a total of 343 Omani study-abroad and stay-in-Oman students, aged 17-52 years, and the qualitative sample included 11 semi-structured interview participants (10 UK & 1 New Zealand-based) and 15 UK-based open-ended question respondents. Contrary to previous research (Al-Makhmari & Amzat, 2012) and prevailing belief, the quantitative inquiry revealed that the one-year abroad, no matter the country of stay, gender, type of stay abroad (alone or with one’s own Omani family), and with previous intercultural experiences or not, did not yield any significant changes in the respondents’ ICC, SEIELU, and IIF levels. The educational level and multilingualism also did not seem to play any considerable roles in this regard. A period of more than six years of stay abroad was a requirement for the participants to experience an advancement in these respective aspects. Both the quantitative and qualitative findings showed that the participants had limited frequency, depth, and breadth in interactions with the host locals due, according to the qualitative findings, to cultural, linguistic, personality-related and cognitive reasons as most frequently expressed causes, as well as educational, family, communication skills-related, and emotional reasons. The qualitative results also showed that the experience was also more triggered by instrumental and less self-determined goals. Consequently, the participants’ intercultural learning from study abroad was more limited to knowledge of the host culture’s tangible elements, education system, and correction of some stereotypes. English learning was also more restricted to the acquisition of vocabulary, language expressions, grammar, word pronunciation, understanding locals’ English accents, accented English, and reading and writing skill development. Speaking was the least practised language skill. Enjoyment of being abroad and with other Omani and Arab students, travelling, and feelings of independence and self-reliance were their other benefits of studying abroad. Academically, they could develop research competence and field knowledge. Despite the limited learning benefits, students evaluated study abroad highly. Higher levels of SEIELU were found achievable through deeper intercultural interactions whose fulfilment was attainable through the development of ICC, primarily through the enhancement of more positive attitudes towards cultural differences in the first place, and knowledge and awareness of the host culture than the mere frequency of intercultural interactions, negative intercultural emotion control, and critical thinking and communication skills.
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