Institute of Education

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Exploring University Internationalization and Student Global Competence Gains

A paper co-authored by IOE doctoral scholar Irina Shcheglova, which analyzes how US universities’ expanding international agendas relate to student global competence additions, has been published in the online repository of UC Berkeley’s Center for Studies in Higher Education.  

IOE expert Irina Shcheglova has been taking part in the large-scale SERU project to explore undergraduate experiences and perceptions regarding multiple facets of academic life and achievement, based on comprehensive data from the University of California system.

Run by the Center for Studies in Higher Education (CSHE) at UC Berkeley, the study seeks to gain a host of new insights into the subject area of higher education sociology, while also helping advance university policies so as to empower learning careers of greater academic value-added.

With her interests concentrated in the realm of comparative education, internationalization and test development, Irina, in her current role as a CSHE Visiting Scholar, maintains a specific focus on students’ multi-engagement in university life as a factor of academic achievement, which should enable a deeper understanding of various complex issues associated with the value of undergraduate degrees in Russian and American universities.

One of Irina’s latest outputs during her stay with CSHE is a SERU-based paper entitled Fostering Global Competence through Internationalization at​ ​American​ ​Research​ ​Universities, co-authored by Gregg Thomson and Martha​ ​C.​ ​Merrill.


American research universities have recently joined the march for internationalization and now are putting explicit efforts into finding ways to create an international focus. Within a short number of years, missions have been transformed, incorporating elements of globalization. Universities now declare the importance of preparing students to live and work in a multicultural and global world. They document the increased numbers of international students and faculty on campus and their support for Study Abroad programs that provide first-hand international experience as well as for curricular changes. However, there is little research regarding how effective universities have been in achieving their overall goal of internationalization, in particular any assessment of increased student global competency resulting from the undergraduate experience at a major research university. This study begins to fill that gap by investigating the contribution of each of a number of specific globally focused activities offered by these universities to the increased self-assessed global competency of undergraduates. The data are from the spring 2012 administration of the Student Experience in Research University (SERU) Survey that included responses from 33,784 undergraduate students from 15 major American research universities. The study develops a six-item measure of global competency and then uses a four-stage multiple regression model to examine how participation in each of nine globally oriented activities contribute to self-assessed increases in global competency since enrollment at the university. The results indicate the significant relationship of participation in globally oriented activities to increased sense of global competency with the pattern of relationships varying by year in school. For seniors, for example, interaction with students from outside the US in social settings makes the largest contribution to gains in global competence, followed by taking courses with an international focus and study abroad.

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