Ongoing Research

Intercultural Teaching Competence: A Framework

Researchers: Nanda Dimitrov and Aisha Haque

This article presents a framework for Intercultural Teaching Competence (ITC) that instructors may use as they prepare to facilitate learning across cultures. Building on previous research on intercultural competence, culturally relevant teaching, intercultural trainer competencies, and student-centered approaches to teaching, this framework consists of twenty instructor competencies across three categories that are salient for the intercultural classroom: foundational skills, facilitation abilities, and expertise in curriculum development. Each competency is illustrated with examples drawn from across the disciplines and includes strategies for incorporation into the active learning classroom. While intended as a tool to guide instructors in individual and group reflection on inclusive teaching practices, the ITC framework can further aid educational developers as they work with faculty to support curriculum internationalization initiatives. Recommendations for use in faculty learning communities and workshops are included at the end of the article. The intercultural teaching competence framework will benefit instructors who teach in diverse and multidisciplinary classrooms, discuss global or social justice issues in their class, as well as those who seek to include intercultural and indigenous perspectives in their disciplines.

Dimitrov, N. & Haque, A. (2016). Intercultural teaching competence: A multidisciplinary model for instructor reflection. Intercultural Education. Special Issue: Learning at Intercultural Intersections. 27(5), 437-456.

Intercultural Teaching Competence in the Disciplines

Researchers: Nanda Dimitrov and Aisha Haque

This research received the 2017 Christine A. Stanley Award for Diversity and Inclusion Research in Educational Development from the POD Network.

As universities continue to internationalize their curricula and recruit a growing number of international students, instructors facilitate learning in increasingly diverse classrooms. This project explores the application of Intercultural Teaching Competence (ITC) by faculty members across the disciplines at a large Canadian research university. Based on focus group interviews with instructors in eighteen disciplines, it provides varied and concrete examples of how instructors mobilize intercultural teaching competence to navigate diverse classrooms, promote perspective taking and global learning goals among students, practice culturally relevant teaching, and validate different ways of knowing and communicating among students through assessment practices. Placing disciplines at the centre of the discussion in this way elucidates the extent to which ITC may be adapted to fit the contours of the academic field and allows readers to explore best practices for facilitating the development of intercultural competence among students in their disciplines. Finally, the implications of disciplinary differences in ITC are discussed for faculty development and curriculum support.

Dimitrov, N. & Haque, A. (2017). Intercultural teaching competence in the disciplines: Teaching strategies for intercultural learning. In Pérez, G. Garcia-Perez & C. Rojas-Primus (Eds.) Promoting Intercultural Communication Competencies in Higher Education. (pp. 89-118). Hershey, PA: IGI Global.

Discipline-specific Approaches to Graduate Teaching Assistant Training: Enhancing Instructional Competence through the Lead TA Program

Researchers: Aisha Haque, Ken N. Meadows, Gayle McIntyre, and Emmanuel Songsore

Graduate student peer networks such as the Lead TA Program enhance the teaching practices of graduate teaching assistants (GTAs) at a disciplinary level (Volpe Horri, 2009). This project explores the effects of a Lead TA Program during its two-year pilot implementation stage at a large, research-intensive Canadian university and outlines the results of a mixed-method study conducted to assess the impact of the program on the instructional skills of GTAs. As a result of Lead TA training, graduate students reported gains in disciplinary teaching competence through increases in their (1) knowledge of the TA role in the department, (2) pedagogical content knowledge, and (3) classroom management skills when facilitating disciplinary tasks and discussions. Common challenges to the design and implementation of this graduate student peer network model are discussed and, finally, recommendations are offered for establishing the program at other research-intensive institutions.


Volpe Horii, C. (2010). Transforming teaching cultures: Departmental teaching fellows as agents of change. In L. B. Nilson & J. E. Miller (Eds.), To improve the academy: Resources for faculty, instructional, and organizational development, 28, 359-378. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.

Ontario e-Fellowship Appraisal

Researchers: Beth Hundey, Lauren Anstey, and Gavan Watson

Faculty development resource repositories like eCampusOntario provide a varied and responsive set of teaching resources and online training. However, many collections currently fall short in incorporating social presence and the associated activities of critical reflection, collaboration, and meaning ­making through dialogue with colleagues. We are exploring and analyzing differing fellowship models, ranging from traditional to modern, in order to identify ideal approaches for an eCampusOntario e-Fellowship that is responsive to the needs of online instructors in Ontario.

Teaching Quality Indicators: Enhancing Quality Teaching

Researchers: Erika Kustra, Joseph Beers, Paola Borin, Debra Dawson, Donna Ellis, Lori Goff, Jill Grose, Sandy Hughes, Ken N. Meadows, K. Lynn Taylor, and Peter Wolf.

The Teaching Quality Indicators project is a research partnership between eight universities in Ontario to develop a means for post-secondary institutions to examine and, ultimately, enhance the culture of teaching at their institutions. In the first phase of the project we developed faculty and student versions of a survey, the Institutional Teaching Culture Perception Survey, based on an extensive review of the relevant literatures to examine the extent to which participants agreed that certain indicators of a quality teaching culture were evident at their institutions and the importance that they placed on these indicators. The surveys were pilot tested with faculty and undergraduate and graduate students at Western University, McMaster University, and the University of Windsor. Focus groups were also conducted to help triangulate and validate the findings of the surveys. Based on the findings from phase one, the surveys were revised and a third survey, for staff who support teaching and learning at their institution, was developed. This phase was funded in part by the Ministry of Training, Colleges, and Universities.

The second and third phases of the research were funded by a SSHRC Insight Development Grant and involved administering the surveys at six institutions over the two years of the grant. We continued to examine how different stakeholders perceived their institution’s teaching culture, how these stakeholders’ perceptions related to key outcomes (e.g., teaching satisfaction, student engagement), and how this knowledge can guide enhancement of a teaching culture, as well as collecting further evidence of the reliability and validity of the three versions of the Institutional Teaching Culture Perception Survey.

Dawson, D.L., Meadows, K.N., Kustra, E., & Hansen, K. D. (2019). Perceptions of Institutional Teaching Culture by Tenured, Tenure-track and Sessional Faculty. Canadian Journal of Higher Education, 49(3), 115-128.

Kustra, E., Doci, F., Gillard, K., Hondzel, C. D., Goff, L., Gabay, D.,  Meadows, K. N., Borin, P., Wolf, P., Ellis, D., Eiliat, H., Grose, J.,  Dawson, D. L., & Hughes, S. (2015). Teaching culture perception: Documenting and transforming institutional teaching cultures.  Collected Essays on Learning and Teaching, 8, 231-244.

Understanding the Relationships between Positive Personality and Optimal Student Development

Researchers: Ken N. Meadows, Jennifer Boman (Mount Royal University), Debra L. Dawson, Gayle McIntyre, and Mike Atkinson

Recent research in student development suggests that university experiences play a key role in the development of specific character strengths. For example, reviews of service learning indicate that participation in a service learning activity combined with structured reflection is associated with positive academic outcomes, personal development, citizenship outcomes, and social skills and attitudes (Conway, Amel, & Gerwien, 2009). While a strengths-based perspective holds much potential for explaining and influencing student growth and development in university, rigorous empirical research using an integrated strengths approach is limited (Linley & Harrington, 2006). With this research program we are attempting to addresses this limitation. Using a longitudinal design, we want to explain how positive traits and strengths develop and change over students’ educational careers and how these strengths both impact and are impacted by university experiences.


Conway, J. M., Amel, E. L., & Gerwien, D. P. (2009). Teaching and learning in the social context: A meta-analysis of service learning’s effects on academic, personal, social, and citizenship outcomes. Teaching of Psychology, 36(4), 233-245.

Linley, P. A., & Harrington, S. (2006). Playing to your strengths. The Psychologist, 19(2), 86-89.

Student Engagement, Learning, Approaches and Self-Directed Learning in Redesigned Blended Design University-Level Courses

Researchers: Gavan Watson, Lauren Anstey, Beth Hundey, Stephanie Horsley, Ken N. Meadows, and Kim McPhee

An investigation of how the redesign of undergraduate courses to a blended design impacts students’ engagement, approaches to learning, and metacognitive self-regulation in learning.

Evaluating the Instructor Support Model for Western Active Learning Space (WALS)

Researchers: Gavan Watson and Stephanie Oliver

The goal of this study is to evaluate the effectiveness of the Centre for Teaching and Learning's instructor support model for Western Active Learning Space (WALS), Western's first active learning classroom. Funded by the Ministry of Training, Colleges, and Universities and Western University, WALS opened in August 2014 as a General Use classroom. Conceived using Shirley Reushle’s “PaSsPorT” model (2013), a theoretical framework adapted from Radcliffe (2009) that emphasizes People, Spaces, Pedagogy, and Technology when designing active learning spaces, WALS “integrat[es] … pedagogy, physical design, and instructional technology” (Neill & Etheridge, 2008) with a focus on student-centred, active learning.

At Western, members of the Centre for Teaching and Learning developed a three-step iterative process to support instructors in WALS. This process includes: 1) an “Intro to WALS” Workshop, in which instructors gain an introduction to the space's unique technological and spatial affordances, become familiar with active learning techniques, and network with each other; 2) one-on-one consultations in which instructors meet with a member of the TSC to discuss adapting their courses for WALS; and 3) designated "Sandbox" times when instructors come "play" in WALS and experiment with the space and technology while supported by a member of the TSC.

Through semi-structured interviews and a grounded theory approach (Strauss & Corbin, 1998), we will measure the effectiveness of our WALS support model by collecting data from WALS instructors in a variety of disciplines and at various levels of undergraduate and graduate teaching. The study will provide us with data to adapt the WALS support model to instructor needs at Western, and will enable us to share our findings with other post-secondary institutions developing similar programs to support faculty in active learning spaces.


Neill, S. & Etheridge, R. (2008). Flexible learning spaces: The integration of pedagogy, physical design, and instructional technology. Marketing Education Review, 18(1), 47-53. Retrieved from

Radcliffe, D. (2009). A pedagogy-space-technology (PST) framework for designing and evaluating learning places. In D. Radcliffe, H. Wilson, D. Powell & B. Tibbetts (Eds). Learning spaces in higher education: Positive outcomes by design (pp 11-16). Brisbane, Qld: The University of Queensland and the Australian Teaching Council.

Reushle, S. (2013, March 17). PaSsPorT: People, Spaces, Pedagogy and Technology for learning. [Video Presentation, University of Canberra]. Australian Digital Futures Institute Blog, University of Southern Queensland, Australia. Retrieved from

Strauss, A., & Corbin, J. (1998). Basics of qualitative research: Techniques and procedures for developing grounded theory (2nd ed.). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.

Curriculum mapping and non-traditional learning contexts

Researchers: Beth Hundey and Karyn Olsen

Existing frameworks for curriculum mapping may not capture in meaningful ways the learning that occurs outside of traditional coursework, including co-op, internships, ePortfolios and interactions with project supervisors. The goal of our research is to gather and share effective strategies for capturing and communicating non-traditional learning experiences on curriculum maps.