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.
October 24, 2017
Research and Occasional Papers Series (ROPS)