Report from Team Brad & Lori

We had a great time these past two weeks learning from such talented colleagues.  Here is a summary of our report:

Our Project

The faculty-led study abroad in Angers, France is in its 6th year.  Each semester since summer 2009, two faculty members from SEU Austin have taught in Angers, France, specified courses in their respective disciplines to both SEU students and First Year in France (FYIF) students.  Yet, as of the present, faculty members teaching in Angers (whether from the same or different Schools) have never collaborated on a team-taught course.  Our project enables such a collaboration.  In line with our mission to “make graduates competent in a chosen discipline and to help them understand and appreciate the contributions of other disciplines”, the goal of our pedagogical experiment is to combine our knowledge of intercultural communication and presentational skills (Lori Peterson) with intercultural leadership/entrepreneurship and business communication (Brad Zehner) into a course that exemplifies our Holy Cross international perspective by challenging students to “be able to navigate across cultures” through knowledge and praxis of French businesses:  Business & Presentational Speaking in France

Course Description

Part of St. Edward’s University’s global learning mission is that SEU “…graduates will be distinctive for their understanding of the world and its cultures and for being prepared to make significant contributions in an increasingly global world.  Our mission promises to teach the skills necessary for our students to be independent and productive in an increasingly interconnected world.”

Effective verbal communication skills are an integral part of student’s ability to succeed in any organization / group, particularly in business. In a complex and culturally diverse business world the ability to effectively communicate in the global marketplace has become paramount. The purpose of this course is to enhance student success in their future career by providing them with authentic business  presentational experience in an intercultural setting.  After successful completion of this course, students will be able to add an item to the “Skills/Accomplishments” section of their resumé along the lines of:

·      Experienced in intercultural business communication practices.

Some of our SLOs

  • Recognizing pre-speaking anxieties and developing strategies to overcome them.
  • Differentiating between oral & written business communication practices in the U.S. & France (e.g., effective use of verbal & nonverbal communication, technology, and time)
  • Developing strategies to communicate effectively in a global workplace
  • Demonstrating intercultural competency in written communication by producing information (e.g. memos, e-mails,) for an organizational context in France in a manner appropriate to French business etiquette.
  • Demonstrating intercultural competency in oral communication by adapting  presentational skills to an organizational context in France in a manner appropriate to French business etiquette.
  • Developing observational and listening skills by providing descriptive, evaluative, and actionable feedback about speeches and speakers.
  • Understanding the ethical responsibilities of the effective, international business speaker

Pedagogical Experiment

  • Interdisciplinary Team-Teaching
  • Globally Networked Classroom Context

Instead of teaching separate sections of the general education “Presentational Speaking” and the Business major requirement “Business Communication”, we will be combining these courses into one class where both instructors are present for all class meetings and students gain a rich, interdisciplinary perspective.

When teaching in a faculty-led study abroad context, it is imperative that the course offers students more than simply the same class they would take on the Austin SEU campus but in an international location.  Thus, it is our goal to get the students interacting in the Angers business community through a series of assignments and guest speakers to create an authentic intercultural course.

Our Plans

Some of our plans include designing the first half of the semester around a series of case studies focusing on French industry:  Wine, Cosmetics, Luxury Goods (Handbags), and Technology (AirBus).  Students will analyze and assess each case, prepare business memos, and make presentations to the class.

We plan to stop at midterm to conduct midterm course assessments.  The second half of the semester we will send students into the Angers community to interview organizational leaders, after which they will present findings to the class.  We will also have a series of guest speakers visit our class during this time-frame.


Some of our challenges include assessing our SLOs.  For example, one of our SLOs seeks to measure whether students have ‘developed strategies to communicate effectively in a global workplace’.  Thus, measuring “effective global communication” may prove difficult and might need to be broken down into smaller pieces.

Another challenge is that we are actually enacting intercultural business communication, ourselves, by working/teaching in France!  Finding ways to reflect meaningfully on our experience and incorporate it into our teaching will undoubtedly be an exciting byproduct of this endeavor.

Current Status of Project

We have completed a rough draft of our syllabus.  Next, we will be choosing the specific case study assignments. Once our case studies have been decided upon, we will begin creating rubrics for all assignments in order to be certain our SLOs are measured.  In the interim, we are communicating with the SEU Angers office and networking in order to secure guest speakers and organizational sites.

Additional Approaches, Experiments, and Ideas from the Innovation Institute

The past two weeks have indeed been full of ideas!  One suggestion from a colleague that was quite intriguing was the idea that we should consider team-teaching this same class on the SEU Austin campus sometime in the future as a sort of ‘control group’–to try to determine whether or not being in an international setting produces increased levels of global learning, or, if similar learning can take place, perhaps, in a global digital classroom.

Finally, we are inspired by the session on SoTL and are thinking of forums within which to present our experience.


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