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Using the IDI

I have been working with the Intercultural Development Inventory (IDI) for several years.  Mitch Hammer introduced me to this instrument about the time that the second version was being finalized, and when I was Director of Intercultural Education and Research at AFS Intercultural Programs, I worked closely with Mitch on his major study of AFS’s high school exchange program in nine countries. You can find reports from this study and a subsequent survey of older alumni — The Long Term Impact Study — on the AFS web site under “AFS Research and Education” or www.afs.org/research.

In recent years, use of the IDI has doubled with the availability of an online version with multiple languages including Chinese, Japanese, Norwegian, French, Italian, German, Portugese, Spanish and Bahasa Indonesia/Malay. It continues to evolve as well, with a beta version of the next release on the way.

There is a tremendous advantage to have so many studies using the same instrument, and it has helped to increase awareness of the theory behind it, the Developmental Model of Intercultural Sensitivity (DMIS), created by Milton Bennett. What these studies have shown in many cases is that, without some kind of educational guidance and intervention throughout the program, the development of intercultural sensitivity is likely to be limited. On the other hand, it’s quite possible to guide motivated students to explore their own culture and other cultures in terms of the values, assumptions, ideals, communication patterns and day-to-day patterns of life that emerge in any group of people living or working together. The key is to raise their awareness of things they normally would not notice, things they take for granted.

Like the radio quiz show invites people to try to answer questions in the category, “Things You Should Have Learned In School (Had You Been Paying Attention)” the IDI can be seen as an assessment of how much you are paying attention to what you should be observing in another cultural context, but it also assesses how you make sense of those experiences.

For information on taking the IDI yourself and receiving a personal debriefing, or to find out how the IDI can help you assess intercultural learning, please contact me at betsy@interculturaleyes.org.



1. Issue 91. The Tipping Point « Intercultural Eyes - January 28, 2010

[…] indicator I have used extensively. (Read more in “Research and Relevant Bits” here on the http://www.interculturaleyes.org site.) Based on the Milton Bennett theory of how cultural sensitivity is developed, I am still convinced […]

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