Developing intercultural communicative competence of home students in a multicultural class in a university in Eastern China

  • Lemin SHEN

Student thesis: EdD Thesis


As universities strive to meet the growing demands of internationalization, many naturally form multicultural classes for students to experience cultural diversity. Current literature and research focus largely on overseas students on multicultural campuses, limited attention has been paid to the home students. To address this, an empirical study was conducted to explore how a multicultural class might improve home students’ intercultural communicative competence (ICC) development.
Based on an extensive review of literature on ICC and ICC models, this study has developed an interactive model for students’ development of ICC in a multicultural class. This model relies heavily on Byram’s (1997) five savoirs of ICC and Spitzberg and Changnon’s (2009) relational model of intercultural competence, with full consideration of the theories and models developed in China and the research context. With this model, an action research study was planned and carried out over one semester Intercultural Communication Course among 37 home students and 12 overseas students in a multicultural class. In order to provide a holistic evaluation of home students’ ICC development, this research collected data from students’ pre-course and post-course questionnaires, interviews, the teacher’s observation, and students’ reflective journals based on their learning experience.
Both the quantitative and qualitative data gathered provide evidence of students’ ICC progressive change and indicate that the pedagogical design of the multicultural class was effective in terms of enhancing home students’ ICC development in a number of key areas: strengthened positive attitude towards other cultures, broadened knowledge about other cultures, developed intercultural skills, and enhanced critical cultural awareness. Findings also indicated that Chinese cultural values heavily influenced intercultural interaction and should not be neglected in the design of an ICC development model for the Chinese context. Furthermore, in view of the enhancement of English competence, this study highlighted that studying in a multicultural class developed home students’ confidence in speaking English and strengthened their understanding of the varieties of English.
Date of AwardMar 2023
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • University of Nottingham
SupervisorAnwei Feng (Supervisor) & Jane Evison (Supervisor)


  • intercultural communicative competence
  • home students
  • multicultural class

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