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What Do You Mean – Global?

VU International News and Reviews No. 120 September 24 2018

May 2019

In JSIE (online first), three scholars from Plymouth University report on their study on Global Citizenship and Cross-Cultural Competency: Student and Expert Understandings of Internationalization Terminology. Everybody stresses that global citizenship and cross-cultural competency are key learning outcomes of higher education today. But what do we mean – and what do students understand these concepts to mean. This is what they set out to find out, by comparing the results of a broad survey among almost 500 first year Plymouth students with the results of expert interviews. They found that students tend to have mixed understandings of these concepts and that these also differ from what the experts say. Not surprising and no disaster for beginning students to have imperfect knowledge of the things they need to know, understand and be able to do at the end of their learning process. But nonetheless, a vital piece of information to get them there and in that sense a very useful and evidence/based part of the research. As the authors acknowledge, the sample of one university is too small to generalise so repeat studies in other places – with the same method – would be welcome.

Could the JSIE editorial board find a way to promote repeat studies that help overcome sample size problems?

As an afterthought: it would have been nice if the authors had known (or shown knowledge of) the Heighten suite developed by ETS, which consists of validated tests of “Civic Competency & Engagement” and “Intercultural Competency and Diversity” together with three core competencies. Comparing student perceptions with the concepts and definitions underlying these standardised and validated tests would add to the comparability of the data.

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