Global learning is part of international education associated with study abroad but now includes other interactions with people from diverse disciplinary and cultural backgrounds and activities that analyze and address complex global problems. The activities can occur on and off-campus, globally through internships, capstones, study abroad, and locally through community-based experiences based on a global problem or issue or experiences in-country within a culturally different community from students' own culture.
Each higher education institution uses global learning to enhance students' intercultural knowledge, skills, and attitudes to communicate and act appropriately with people from other cultures. This includes understanding, respecting, and accepting different cultures and their impact on society. Students develop a global perspective through their knowledge and experiences to look at global and cultural situations from all perspectives and understand the local and global impact of their decisions.
The Global Learning VALUE Rubric was developed by a group of faculty experts from colleges and universities in the United States through the Association of American Colleges & Universities (AAC&U). The rubric provides clear, essential criteria for each learning outcome and performance level that require progressively higher levels of knowledge and skills. The rubric is not used for grading and is intended only for evaluating and discussing student learning on a programmatic level across a student's entire college career. The rubric may not be the best way to assess a specific experience, course, or assignment because it is designed to be used over a long period of time. The rubric provides a basic framework for evidence of student learning so it can be shared by universities across through country and used for specific campuses, disciplines, and courses.
The Global Perspective Inventory (GPI) is a web-based tool developed at Iowa State University to assess global learning experiences and perspectives. The GPI provides a holistic approach to learning and growing by focusing on three dimensions of global learning:
The Intercultural Effectiveness Scale (IES) is a tool used to assess the degree to which students possess competencies critical to interacting successfully with people from different cultural backgrounds. The IES focuses on three dimensions of intercultural effectiveness that are combined to produce an Overall Intercultural Effectiveness Score. The three dimensions are:
This helps overcome students' resistance to learning because they see how they are progressing. IES also helps instructors assess students' abilities to understand what they need to do to move their learning forward. Students can also create a personal development plan based on the initial IES results and work on it for the semester.
Assessment that involves some student self-reflection is emerging as a trend.
This includes developing ePortfolios focused on enhancing student self-reflection and creating surveys specific to a course or program that combine context in the discipline and cultural knowledge. These tools can be used in conjunction with IES, GPI, or VALUE Rubric. Customized surveys will not have benchmarks outside of the program or course context, making it difficult to draw statistical inferences. Institutions that used student self-reflection and ePortfolios describe lower levels of student effort than expected.
There are several barriers or challenges to creating and implementing innovative assessments for student global learning. Faculty can be resistant to any assessment, whether it's innovative or something that's been used extensively. Faculty and staff may not understand the purpose of the assessment. Defining and clearly stating the learning outcomes is essential, so faculty understand what is being assessed. Faculty may not know how to design an effective assessment plan or understand the different assessment methods and align those methods to the learning outcome. There may also be little confidence from faculty in the new assessment tool. Faculty also need to understand how to use the assessment data in the right way.
Students must be culturally competent to be culturally responsive. Each dimension of the IES includes additional dimensions that assess intercultural competence. For example, the IES Continuous Learning dimension includes self-awareness and exploration. Self-awareness measures the level of students' awareness of their values, strengths, weaknesses, how they interact with others, their behavioral bias, and how they impact other people. Exploration assesses student's openness to cultures with ideas, values, norms, situations, and behaviors that are different from their own. It also assesses a student's desire to learn new things through new experiences and learn from their mistakes and adjust their behaviors.
The VALUE Rubric assesses student's ability to understand their local, national, and global responsibility to society and to understand and examine global challenges through respectful collaboration with others from diverse backgrounds and cultures.
Association of American Colleges & Universities. (n.d.) Global learning VALUE
Hundley, S. and Kahn, S. (2019). Trends in assessment: Ideas, opportunities, and issues for
higher education. Stylus. Sterling, VA.
Iowa State University. (2015–2019). Global perspective
Kozai Group. (2012). Research studies that employed the intercultural effectiveness
Kozai Group. (2017). The intercultural effectiveness scale.
Kozai Group. (2018, October 29). Using the IES with Donna Evans [Video].
I am a higher education administrator with over 15 years of experience in communications and operations. The views in my blog are my own.