Intercultural exchanges have a profound impact on young people—not only on their personal growth, but also on their education and the world views they go on to hold. One of the key assumptions is that by studying abroad young people become more interculturally competent, which should be valued and recognized by their schools. The first step in ensuring that recognition is assessment: producing research-based evidence of the transformational impact of study abroad on educating young people. 

AFS has a long-standing history of significant contributions to the field research of intercultural education, often working in partnership with leading institutions and notable researchers. The Intercultura Assessment Protocol is a ground-breaking tool developed by Fondazione Intercultura, in collaboration with the University of Udine in Italy, under the leadership of Dr. Mattia Baiutti, Researcher and School Training Coordinator at Fondazione Intercultura and Intercultura/AFS Italy. Developed over the last six years in Italy, the Protocol was recently launched in English.

Dr. Mattia Baiutti, Researcher and School Training Coordinator at Fondazione Intercultura and Intercultura/AFS Italy

What is the Intercultura Assessment Protocol all about?

The Intercultura Assessment Protocol is a model for assessing the competences acquired by high school students during a study abroad program. In a nutshell, the Protocol assesses the students’ development of intercultural competence: their ability to interact, communicate and relate appropriately and effectively to people who are perceived to have different cultural affiliations from themselves. (see more in: Deardorff, D. K. (2006). Identification and assessment of intercultural competence as a student outcome of internationalization. Journal of Studies in International Education, 10(3), 241-266)

In addition, the Intercultura Assessment Protocol is a transformative space for intercultural learning, as well as an innovative assessment model that is sustainable for the teachers who adopt it, and that can be easily adapted in contexts other than study abroad. Find out more here.

How does assessing intercultural competence work?

The Intercultura Assessment Protocol can be used by teachers in schools whose students go on to study abroad. The three key features of the Protocol are that it uses a multiple-method (i.e. different assessment tools) and multi-perspective (e.g.  student, teachers, peers) approach, as well as that it provides a longitudinal view of a student’s experience during and after their exchange. 

During and after their time abroad, the Protocol mainly includes self-assessment, assessment by others (like peers, teachers, volunteers) with logbooks, presentations, reality tests and observations as it follows a process of a student’s development through the mobility experience. 

Intercultura Assessment Protocol

Why assess intercultural competence?

Intercultural exchanges are certainly educational activities. However, more work is needed to include these educational exchanges into school curricula as schools tend to focus primarily on competencies directly related to subjects. To promote and advance the educational value of exchanges within schools, it is necessary to understand their educational objectives and assess their pedagogical value, especially in terms of how they help develop interculturally competent citizens. Therefore, assessment is needed: 

  • To make explicit what students learn during an educational exchange program (for their educational institutions and for learners themselves) and to give a value to these learning outcomes
  • To see to which extent learners achieve intended intercultural learning outcomes
  • To help improve the intercultural learning processes on the individual and institutional level
  • In some countries, to follow national or local legislation in this regard.

Based on a five-year research project that involved more than 100 teachers and an international group of experts, the Intercultura Assessment Protocol was designed in response to a need to assess the learning that occurs during study abroad and facilitate the recognition of such education allowing pupils to continue their education without loss of school year. The Protocol addresses the Italian Note (2013) from the Ministry of Education and the 2018 EU Council recommendation on automatic recognition of learning periods abroad

“Although  pupil  mobility  is  a  core  educational  activity  within  the  process  of internationalising  secondary  school  education,  only  modest  efforts  have  been made to investigate pupil mobility in upper secondary school and how to assess it,” writes Mattia Baiutti, the tool’s author in his research paper published in the Frontiers: The Interdisciplinary Journal of Study Abroad. So, the Intercultura Assessment Protocol addresses a serious lack of such research in the field of intercultural education, and offers practical support to teachers who save time and resources while providing meaningful learning experiences for their students.

The Protocol is fully available free of charge online, and Intercultura and Fondazione Intercultura offers regular training and support for teachers and principals in Italy interested in the tool. Access all resources here and connect with the research team for more information. 

Find out more about other AFS research globally into intercultural education here and in Italy here