S4-PRO6-5 - Improving Student Global, International, and Intercultural Competencies via Disciplinary International Collaborative Experiences

1. Innovative Practice Work In Progress
Rob Elliott1 , Xiao Luo1
1 Indiana University Purdue University Indianapolis (IUPUI)

Work in Progress: Global industries such as Information Technology (IT) are actively seeking a workforce of professionals who can demonstrate global, international, and intercultural (GII) competencies in addition to their disciplinary expertise.  Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) are responding to the needs of industry by implementing a broad swath of internationalization initiatives into their strategic plans and curricula.  By far, the most visible effect of these efforts is short-term study abroad programs.  However, most estimates show that fewer than 5% of undergraduate students take advantage of study abroad.  Further, there is no guarantee that the study abroad programs align with the disciplines of the participants, thus improving the international perspective within their disciplinary expertise.

A variety of local globalization initiatives have attempted to widen the availability of globally-themed programming to students in HEIs without the need to leave their campuses.  These local programs have been shown to have some impact on student GII competencies but have not been directly compared to the student outcomes from study abroad program.  Further, many programs are interdisciplinary, thus impeding efforts to include disciplinary content into the programming. 

The authors are conducting a study that proposes the direct comparison of a globally-themed IT project built into three different undergraduate IT classroom contexts: a project with an international focus and no interaction with students from a foreign university, the same project executed in a virtual exchange context where teams of local students and students from a foreign university who collaborate via information and communication technologies (ICT), and a hands-on version of the course project that is implemented by local and remote students collaborating at a foreign university during a short-term study abroad program. 

The investigators want to determine if such internationally-themed projects improve student GII competencies and examine any differences in those outcomes when compared to the classroom context in which the project is executed.  Preliminary data suggests that students’ competencies are more highly impacted when collaborating with international peers directly.  Additional data from study abroad and virtual exchange events is being actively collected.

Similar studies could be performed in a wide variety of STEM disciplines and can be easily adapted to almost any discipline with a need to infuse global concepts into their curriculum. The results of this study should prove valuable to a wide variety of HEIs, as it could provide evidence of the effectiveness of local globalization and virtual exchange programs.  Doing so could encourage more institutions to provide a wider variety of international engagement opportunities and instill higher global competencies in the broad swath of students who are currently unable or unwilling to engage in study abroad programs.