The development of Intercultural Competence between primary school children from Mexico and Spain
: an approach framed by SCL and CSCL

Student thesis: Master's ThesisMaster of Science (MSc)


With an increased convergence of people with different backgrounds and
ideologies in ways never documented before, education faces the not easy task
of providing students with abilities that facilitate their integration in this new
world. These abilities have been referred in the literature as intercultural
competence (IC). The development of such competence, though, has been
mainly associated with foreign languages, and reserved for teenagers and
young people. Scarce investigation has been devoted to the development of IC
separated from those purposes, or consigned to elementary school settings.
Therefore, this dissertation was aimed to design, implement and analyse an
online-cross-cultural exchange between primary school children from Mexico
and Spain to facilitate the development of IC. In doing so, a conceptual
framework integrating Student-Centred Learning and Computer-Supported
Collaborative Learning approaches was created.
Through the analysis of diverse observations, interviews and focus groups, this
inquiry addressed the following research question: How does participating in an
online-cross-cultural exchange framed by the SCL and CSCL approaches
promote children’s development of IC?
The results reveal that the integration of SCL and CSCL approaches are highly
suitable to facilitate the development of IC. Firstly, by working collaboratively
with local peers, children showed great motivation and engagement in the
exploration of their own culture, which is acknowledged as an important
component of IC. This achievement, though, was found to be strongly
determined by the teachers’ roles given the unfamiliarity of students with the
SCL approach. Similarly, the teachers’ successful accomplishment of their
expected roles as guides and coaches, was found to require of external
support. Furthermore, concerning the students’ synchronous interactions
through the CSCL approach, it was found that evocative interactions do not
spontaneously occur between participants, especially in the first interactions.
Meaningful communication occurred when: 1) the teachers encouraged
students to actively participate; and 2) the students felt increased confidence
with their counterparts as the days went by. Once the communication was more
fluent, the development of IC was observed to thrive. Also, in this process of
communication, the technology itself revealed to be a determining factor in the
way the interactions were developed.
Date of Award30 Nov 2016
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • The University of Bristol
SupervisorHelen Manchester (Supervisor)

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