Building intercultural awareness using the Intercultural Development Inventory

Navitas’ University Partnerships in North America (UPNA) are focused on promoting internationalization in higher education. We support international students who choose to study in North American university pathways toward successful matriculation to their chosen university. Cross-cultural engagement is at the heart of our practice and our team members’ capacity to act as a ‘cultural bridge’ is of utmost importance.

In this informative presentation, Amanda Johnson-Toala, Executive Director at the University of New Hampshire Global Student Success Program (GSSP), discusses the ways she initiated cross-cultural reflection by using the Intercultural Development Inventory© (IDI) to assess intercultural awareness and reflect on actionable strategies to function as cultural bridges.

Below is Amanda’s summary of how to use the IDI:

  1. Follow the steps to take the IDI, an excellent tool for cross-cultural testing that has been established as cross-culturally valid. It is a copyrighted tool that requires training to administer. There are other free anti-bias testing tools such as Harvard’s Project Implicit.
  2. Choose whether to share the results individually or as a group. The advantages of sharing the group results is that it enables supportive and non-judgmental conversations around the differences between perception orientation and developmental orientation.
  3. Discuss the results, asking participants what they think of the assessment, whether it reflects their actual development, what socializing factors may have influenced their score, and how it has shaped their perceived and developmental worldview.
  4. Follow up with participants presenting their cultural autobiographies in a series of reflections around the role of culture in professional and personal lives.
  5. Encourage participants to move towards actionable strategies in their lives, whether this be focused attention on a specific aspect of a culture while on a trip, journaling about cross-cultural interaction, or challenging their assumptions and denaturalizing their behavior in a cross-cultural situation.

Hear Amanda discuss this process in more detail in the video below.

Things to keep in mind:

  • Cross-cultural reflection is an ongoing process: Focus on becoming instead of being.
  • Taking a cross-cultural test requires contextualized discussion. Avoid decontextualized use of any tool.
  • If we approach the process openly and collegially, it can be a learning opportunity for everyone.
  • Such a reflection benefits us personally and professionally with international students, and in addition, helps us engage with domestic students and other stakeholders on campus.

Hear Alison Lerman, Student Success Manager for the Global Student Success Program at the University of New Hampshire, discuss her experience of taking the IDI and being part of the reflection process.

To continue the conversation, contact Amanda Johnson-Toala, or share your thoughts and ideas via Yammer, Twitter or LinkedIn.


  • Bennett, M. J. (1998). Developmental model of intercultural sensitivity. John Wiley & Sons, Inc.
  • Deardorff, D. K. (2011). Assessing intercultural competence. New Directions For Institutional Research, 2011(149), 65-79. doi:10.1002/ir.381
  • Hammer, M., Bennett, M., & Wiseman, R. (2003). Measuring intercultural sensitivity: The intercultural development inventory. International Journal of Intercultural Relations, 27(4), 421-443.