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International immersion learning experiences can be impactful, even transformational, if properly implemented to include opportunities for critical reflection. Research suggests that programs that thoroughly integrate continuous reflection promote development of the knowledge, skills, and attitudes necessary for growth in cultural competence. Critical reflection allows for examination of complex social issues and challenges students to think beyond their own social realities. This project focused on the development of cultural competence in preprofessional undergraduate occupational therapy students through participation in an immersive learning program in Guatemala. Specifically, a mixed-methods approach, including a quantitative measurement tool and qualitative analysis of student reflections during the immersive program, was utilized to measure the development of cultural competence. Results of pre- and postexperience cultural competence development as measured by the Inventory for Assessing the Process of Cultural Competence Among Healthcare Professionals–Student Version (IAPCC-SV) are reported. Qualitative analysis of reflection sessions audio-recorded over the 2-week immersion program period revealed student descriptions of dissonance, transformative learning, and the shaping of social action as it pertains to their future practice as occupational therapists. Furthermore, reflections emphasized the importance of building relationships, both within the learning group and with members of the local target community, to support student development through this transformative learning process.


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  • Alternative title
    • Transformation Toward Cultural Competence

  • Journal title
    • Journal of Community Engagement and Scholarship

  • Volume
    • 13

  • Issue
    • 2

  • Date submitted

    19 July 2022

  • License
  • Keywords
  • Additional information
    • Acknowledgements:

      Acknowledgement: The authors would like to thank Dr. Max Buot for his assistance with the statistical analysis of our study.