Craig Shealy, professor of graduate psychology at James Madison University and executive director of the International Beliefs and Values Institute, is one of several presenters joining NAFSA for a Faculty Conversation on September 24 titled, "Intercultural Competence and Student Development: Working Toward a Fuller Picture of Global Learning."
To help kick off the discussion, NAFSA asked Shealy a few questions about what he and his fellow presenters plan to address in the upcoming conversation on the assessment of international education's impact on students' perspectives and intercultural competence.
For educators who already live and breathe the world of assessment, what do you hope they will learn and what expertise do you hope they will bring to the event?
Through recent assessment technologies and programs, we have learned a great deal not only about best practices vis-à-vis the assessment of international, multicultural, and transformative learning, but also identified a number of "future directions" that are of relevance to all of us who are engaged in this highly intriguing work.
For example, we see empirically that "who students are" before they participate in a learning experience is key to the nature, depth, and quality of learning that actually occurs.
We also see substantial differences among instructors who are responsible for teaching or leading courses or programs that ostensibly are the same. Thus, attributing outcomes (e.g., grades, course evaluations, and satisfaction ratings) only to the quality of a course or program—without accounting for differences in learners or teachers even before the learning experience begins—may lead us to conclude that outcomes are due primarily to our own interventions rather than a range of factors.
These and other implications are among those that warrant further inquiry—in research and practice—as we seek to create more effective and responsive learning environments.
What do you hope educators outside of the assessment world will both contribute to, and take away from, the conversation?
I would hope that participants emerge with a clear sense of possibilities as well as genuine enthusiasm about what may be accomplished through thoughtful assessment planning and practice.
What have we been missing in past discussions of changes brought on by international education experience?
Too often, the topic of assessment is experienced as daunting, dreary, and distressing. When done right, assessment research and practice can and should be experienced in precisely the opposite manner—accessible, fascinating, and essential. There tends to be an unfortunate disconnect between the real world needs of faculty, students, staff, and administrators and the presentation or communication of assessment findings, which may be difficult to interpret or apply. Fortunately, it is possible to assess these complex and interacting processes and outcomes in way that makes sense and has impact.