The SoTL Advocate

Supporting efforts to make public the reflection and study of teaching and learning at Illinois State University and beyond…

Going Global with SoTL: Mini-grants for SoTL on Learning Outcomes from Global/International Curriculum/Experiences

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By Kathleen McKinney, Cross Endowed Chair in SoTL, Illinois State University

This blog post discusses a recent SoTL support program on the ISU campus that is providing mini-grants to study the developmental and learning outcomes of ISU students as a result of global/international/cross-cultural curricular or co-curricular experiences. This blog post has two purposes: 1. it outlines the features of this SoTL faculty development/support activity for those who run such programs and 2. it summarizes the selected SoTL projects as examples of SoTL on this topic for other SoTL researchers.

Applicants were required to submit a proposal narrative of up to 3 pages, a reference page/bibliography, and an itemized budget with justifications. Two faculty members with expertise in SoTL reviewed the proposals using the following criteria.

  • Proposal focused on studying learning and/or developmental outcomes of ISU students’ experiences with global/international/cross-cultural assignments or opportunities.
  • Proposal included a brief, relevant literature review and how the proposed project ‘fits’ in this literature.
  • Project uses appropriate methodology for gathering evidence to reflect on/study the teaching-learning issue or question, and this method is briefly but clearly described.
  • Project is ethically appropriate in terms of human subjects and this is made explicit.
  • Budget justifications and items/amounts are appropriate for the SoTL study proposed.

We received twelve proposals. The mini-grants are for $1,000 per proposal. We were able to fund the following six projects. (Note, these summaries are edited excerpts from the grant proposals.)

“Study Abroad Experience in Peru and Students’ Development” (Aysen Bakir, Marketing)

I worked on creating a short-term study abroad program to Peru for our students in the College of Business. I would like to understand the nature of the experiences our students gain by participating in this program and understand the outcomes based on their exposure to this program. The program includes company visits and cultural excursions. These activities aim to provide exposure to how businesses operate in different cultures, the type of challenges they have, and the strategies companies implement in Peru. Additionally, Peru has a very rich history providing a great exposure to a culture that is significantly different than U.S. I am planning to use qualitative techniques. Students’ work will be analyzed. Prior to the program, the students will read materials about Peru and doing business in Peru. After reading the materials, students will write a report. This report will have specific questions tapping into students’ knowledge, expectations, and experiences with Peru and international aspects. During the program, the students will keep a daily journal. The journals will address questions regarding the professional and personal experiences in Peru. Students will also create a presentation after coming back from the trip. The presentation assignment will include structured questions and will require the students to focus on their development and implications of what they have gone through with the Program.

“Interpreting the Frames: A Study of Six Art Education Students’ Integration of Their Study Abroad in Australia Experience Into Their Classroom Teaching Practices” (Judith Briggs, Art)

In Summer 2013 and Summer 2015, I led two study abroad trips to visit the visual arts departments of New South Wales (NSW) Australia schools to examine how NSW visual arts educators integrated the constructs of their state Visual Arts Syllabi into their teaching and enabled their students to talk about, to write about, and to make contemporary artwork. It is the focus of this qualitative study to discern if and how the students who visited NSW and used the NSW model to create and to teach curriculum within their ISU methods courses used the NSW constructs within their own student teaching practices. The study also includes a graduate teacher from the 2015 cohort. Did the study abroad experience influence their subsequent teaching practices within the public school atmosphere? The study will consist of analysis of recorded interviews with five student teacher candidates and one graduate teacher.

“History Teacher Candidates and Discipline-Specific Pedagogy: Theory, Policy, and Practice in England and the United States” (Richard L. Hughes and Sarah Drake Brown, History)

This study will address the following questions: 1. How do varied clinical experiences shape the evolving professional goals and performances of developing teacher candidates in history? 2. How do emerging history teachers navigate the tensions between theory and practice in two differing clinical settings? 3. How do experiences working with professional teachers, secondary students, and the general public in two different countries shape the discipline-specific pedagogy of history teacher candidates in terms of ongoing debates over history as content or skills? During the Spring 2016 semester, three ISU history/social science education majors will participate in a unique experience, student teaching in secondary schools in both Illinois and in England. The research uses case studies to better understand the experiences and perspectives of teacher candidates. Data from oral interviews, frequent written reflections, formal observations, and the analysis of students’ teaching artifacts from both continents provide insight to the participants’ perceptions, skills, and behavior as emerging professionals. Researchers will assess the artifacts associated with students’ teaching according to the professional teaching standards created by the Stanford Center for Assessment, Learning and Equity (SCALE) for the edTPA exam.

“Preparing Future Early Childhood Teachers: Furthering Intercultural Dialogues among Early Childhood Pre-service Teachers across the Globe” (Miranda Lin, Teaching and Learning)

Students enrolled in TCH 111: Teaching a Diverse Student Population will be asked to complete a pen pal project in which they will engage in intercultural dialogue with their counterparts in Taiwan and Turkey. Prior to starting the project, TCH 111 students will take Berarto and Deardorff’s (2012)’s Intercultural Competence Self-Reflection survey. Students will communicate with their pen pals through Facebook (via a private group) throughout the spring semester. After the pen pal project is completed, our pre-service teachers will complete a guided reflection paper and complete the Intercultural Competence Self-Reflection survey the second time. Specifically, this project will look into how 1) pre-service teachers’ perceptions of diverse populations altered, 2) the experience helped them better understand the impact of global issues on their daily lives, and 3) pre-service teachers come to understand that teaching and learning is greatly affected by the interplay of politics, societal norms, and cultural values in the specific historical time. Pre-service teachers will also take part in focus groups after completing the pen pal project to gain more insight into their experience.

“FCS 399 Fashion Industry Tour to Asia: May 2016” (Yoon Jin Ma and Elisabeth Reed, Family and Consumer Sciences)

The Fashion Industry Study Tour of Asia (FCS 399) that will be offered during Summer 2016 is designed to provide students the opportunity to expand their understanding of the global fashion industry through site visits in South Korea, China, and Hong Kong at apparel and textile production facilities, retail companies, as well as with top-ranked universities where students will interact with international fashion students. To assess student learning outcomes from the program, the Consortium for Innovative Environments in Learning (CIEL) Global Environmental Literacy Rubric (The University of New South Wales Australia, 2015) will be employed both pre and post the experience. CIEL Global Environmental Literacy Rubric is designed to evaluate student learning outcomes of a global environmental perspective in diverse dimensions, including 1) knowledge of environmental impact, 2) knowledge of life systems, 3) application of knowledge to environmental issues, 4) experience working with physical environments, 5) attitudes concerning integrity of global environments, and 6) personal agency for environmental action.

“Exploring and Understanding Global Diets from a Sociocultural Perspective: A Case of Pre-service Teachers in Thailand, Taiwan, and the U.S.” (Do-Yong Park, Teaching and Learning)

This project will be implemented in spring 2016 through science methods courses in three cooperating universities around the world. Each participant of Thailand and Taiwan will be pared up with each of the ISU students in TCH 257. Each individual participant uses a digital journal on facebook created for the purpose of this project and writes a description of and posts a picture of everything that they eat for 7 days. At the end of the week, the students in TCH 257 compare their journal with other students and how the food that each ate compare and contrast with others. For assessment of learning outcomes, each participant submits two products including (a) reflection paper and (b) two kinds of report named ‘nutrients and me.’ At the end of the project, (c) there will be a focus group interview on how this project helped them understand science in terms of contextual environment, cultural milieu, and sociological perspectives. These three sources of data will be analyzed using a constant comparative method by using open coding to find common experience, patterns, or themes checked by two student members.

Finally, as part of this SoTL support, all award recipients/teams must meet the following requirements.

  1. If human subjects are involved, receipt of IRB approval before starting the SoTL project.
  2. Attend two meetings of all grant recipients for ‘trouble-shooting’ and ideas/advice on applying and sharing results.
  3. Presentation of the funded SoTL research project at the ISU Teaching-Learning Symposium in January 2017.
  4. Submission of a brief report on the project by December of 2016 to the Cross Chair.



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