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Teaching intercultural competencies in introductory psychology via application of the Excellence in Cultural Experiential Learning and Leadership model


Correspondence: Vikki E. Knott, PhD, University of Canberra, Bruce, ACT 2601, Australia. Email:


This article describes a pilot evaluation involving teaching and learning activities focussed on developing intercultural competencies in an undergraduate psychology unit. Specifically, first year psychology students engaged in two tasks derived from the alliance building and cultural mapping methods of an existing intercultural training resource—the Excellence in Cultural Experiential Learning and Leadership (EXCELL; Mak, Westwood, Barker, & Ishiyama) programme. At the end of the semester, 94 first year psychology students (mean age = 21.6, standard deviation = 6.4) completed a survey about their educational and intercultural experiences. Quantitative results indicated that participants reported some improvement in various aspects of cultural learning, including being better prepared to communicate with people from different cultures. Thematic analysis of student responses to an open-ended question regarding cultural learning indicated that students perceived a range of benefits from intercultural training, including increased knowledge, respect, and competencies for engaging with others from different cultures. Students also reported that participation in the training would lead to increased scope and breadth of practice in their future careers. Suggestions for future research about teaching of intercultural competencies within undergraduate curricula are discussed.