2019 FYEE Conference

Global classroom project: Bringing global competency to the STEM classroom

Presented at T2B: GIFTS - Session B

The Global Classroom Project aims to develop global awareness in all undergraduate students at Penn State University, which we hope to share via a GIFTS presentation. The goal is to bring together first-year domestic and international students to enhance classroom learning and engage with the concepts of student integration and global competency. Actively integrating international and domestic students will not only fulfill the goal of enriching academic performance, we posit that it will also increase global competency and awareness. This project began with first-year seminar courses in the College of Engineering. Previous work has shown that first-year seminars are a time for social integration and are often used to prepare students for future collegiate decisions by “planting seeds” that will eventually lead to certain desirable outputs.(1,2)

The overall structure of this project is based on Astin’s Input-Environment-Output (IEO) Model.(3) The inclusiveness of the IEO model allows us to assess individual outcomes with consideration to both their predisposed characteristics and the influence of their environments. Within each phase of the IEO model, we combined Downey, Lucena, Moskal, Parkhurst, Bigley, Hays, and Lehr’s construct, using their three criteria – disposition, knowledge, and ability – to measure student global and intercultural competence before and after the first-year seminar.(4) The similar theoretical framework has been widely used in the assessment of global and intercultural competency, especially in the field of engineering.(5,6,7)

The project was conducted with ten first-year seminar courses with varying topics in the College of Engineering at Penn State. Enrollment was monitored to ensure international and domestic students attended each course. We recruited five professors who each taught two first-year seminar courses, one control course and one treatment course; our aim was to reduce individual differences in teaching style and permit direct comparison between control and treatment course pairs. Students in all courses were prompted to complete a pre-survey at the beginning of the semester. Then, in the treatment courses, instructors integrated six globally-focused, in-class activities into their curriculum, whereas in the control courses, instructors did not include globally-focused activities. Over the course of the semester, the instructors completed surveys and semi-structured interviews, and all the courses were observed twice. At the end of the semester, students were instructed to complete the post-survey. This design permitted the evaluation of semester-long global competency growth. Our preliminary analysis shows that including globally-focused activities leads to better student engagement and helps international and domestic students to integrate in the classroom.

In this proposed session, we will share our findings as well as detailed GIFTS – suggestions and ideas for discipline-neutral, globally-competent pedagogy that could fit within existing curriculum. For example, one activity encourages educators to use the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals in tandem with their curriculum to guide students through structured activities to consider how they can contribute to global solutions.(8) During our presentation, we will provide additional exercises and a specific toolset that educators could employ in their daily practice.

(1) Goodman, K., & Pascarella, E.T. (2006). First-year seminars increase persistence and retention: A summary of the evidence from how college affect students. Association of American Colleges and Universities, 26-28.
(2) Porter, S. R., & Swing, R. L. (2006). Understanding how first-year seminars affect persistence. Research in Higher Education, 47(1), 89-109.
(3) Astin, A. W. (1993). What matters in college: Four critical years revisited. San Francisco.
(4) Downey, G.L., et al. (2006). The globally competent engineer: Working effectively with people who define problems differenty. Journal of Engineering Education, 95(2), 107-122.
(5) Deardorff, D. K. (2006). Identification and assessment of intercultural competence as a student outcome of internationalization. Journal of studies in international education, 10(3), 241-266.
(6) Hunter, B., White, G. P., & Godbey, G. C. (2006). What does it mean to be globally competent? Journal of Studies in International Education, 10(3), 267-285.
(7) Skrbiš, Z. (2014). Coming to terms with cosmopolitanism, global citizenship and global competence. Discussion paper. IEAA national symposium, ‘Fostering global citizenship and global competence’, Melbourne, 22 August.
(8) UN General Assembly, Transforming our world: the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, 21 October 2015, A/RES/70/1, available at: https://www.refworld.org/docid/57b6e3e44.html

  1. Dr. Lauren Halberstadt Penn State University [biography]
  2. Ms. Yi Meng College of Education, the Pennsylvannia State University [biography]
  3. Sridevi Rao Pennsylvania State University [biography]
  4. Jim Sauls Pennsylvania State University [biography]
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