Book by Richard D. Bucher
Review by Haley Richards
Center for Advising and Student Achievement
Colorado State University
Colleges and universities across the United States are seeing a shift in demographics with more adult learners returning to campus and more traditionally underrepresented ethnic groups enrolling in college (Ashburn, 2008). In order to be effective in a global world and on increasingly diverse college campuses, academic advisors must have strong cultural intelligence. Author Richard Bucher defines cultural intelligence (CQ) and outlines nine Megaskills to develop or enhance one’s CQ in his practical, hands-on guide, Building Cultural Intelligence – Nine Megaskills.
Bucher’s nine CQ Megaskills include understanding one’s cultural identity, checking cultural lenses, global consciousness, shifting perspectives, intercultural communication, managing cross-cultural conflict, multicultural training, dealing with bias, and understanding the dynamics of power. Each Megaskill is described thoroughly in its own chapter complete with interactive components such as quizzes, self-assessments, and Web sites to consult for further information.
While many of the concepts and definitions in this book are elementary, academic advisors may find value in the reflective exercises. Academic advisors, while from a variety of ethnic, ability, national, religious, gender and age backgrounds, have a unifying experience in the form of persisting through an educational experience. We advisors may become so accustomed to our environment and the language used on our campuses that we forget that our students may not be familiar with the terminology or acronyms we use during our advising sessions. Bucher would identify this scenario as the CQ skill of checking our cultural lenses and recognizing when we are trapped in cultural encapsulation (p. 66).
Allowing our own lenses to influence our expectations of students can be further complicated when advisors work with international students. Academic advisors’ ethnocentricism,-- the assumption that our way of doing things is correct and most advantageous (p. 88) -- can be dangerous when working with international students from different educational systems. When advisors are not aware of other cultural values related to authority, conflict, teaching methods, and assessment, we may not fully understand the plight of international student advisees. Furthermore, if advisors do not have strong intercultural communication skills, they may misread advisees’ nonverbal cues, dismiss or devalue advisees’ educational goals, or find themselves frustrated with their inability to convey an important message.
Readers will also appreciate the chapter about the cultural dynamics of power. Understanding the concepts of power distance -- the amount of equality or inequality that is accepted within a particular society (p. 235) -- can help advisors both advocate for students and educate students on how to advocate for themselves. Knowledge of the cultural dynamics of power and the impact of biased behavior can also enlighten advisors to biased or discriminatory policies on college campuses that impact under-represented students, such as home-schooled students, students who are military veterans, non-traditional students, students with mental health issues, and more.
Bucher’s book is best used as a guide for reflection or discussion among advisors. Aside from spending time reflecting on their own biases, cultural lenses, and interpretations of power, advisors may find this book rather introductory. However, it could prompt reflection and discussion among academic advisors in their work with students. In today’s changing and increasingly global world, a little bit of reflection can only enhance our interactions with others, which, after all, is what an advisor’s job is all about.
Ashburn, Elyse. (2008). Student Pool is Expected to Dip and Diversify. Chronicle of Higher Education. Retrieved, March 25, 2008 from http://chronicle.com/weekly/v54/i29/29a00102.htm
Building Cultural Intelligence (CQ) – Nine Megaskills (2008) Book by Richard D. Bucher. Review by Haley Richards. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson Education. 288 pp., $32.15 (paperback), ISBN # 9780131838959