2018 Global Engagement Survey

By Nora Pillard Reynolds

2018 Global Engagement Survey - Full report

The Global Engagement Survey (GES) is a multi-institutional assessment tool that employs quantitative and qualitative methods to better understand relationships among program variables and student learning, in respect to global learning goals identified by the Association of American Colleges and Universities (AAC&U, 2014), with adaptations particularly relevant to community-engaged global learning[1]. The GES therefore considers global learning in respect to the three components of global citizenship, cultural humility, and critical reflection. Drawing on existing research in education abroad, civic engagement, and related fields[2], conceptualizations relevant to global learning are further distilled into eight scales, along with sixteen related, responsive open-ended questions.
Cultural Humility Openness to diversity OD
Cultural adaptability CA
Global Citizenship Civic efficacy CE
Political voice PV
Conscious consumption CC
Global civic values GCV
Human rights beliefs HRB
Critical Reflection Critical reflection CR
At a fundamental level, the researchers recognize global learning as a combination of several bold, visionary, and capacious ideals. Each scale shared here hangs together well, and qualitative questions offer further, related investigation of the core themes. However, it is clear that the globalsl learning community will continue to reflect, adapt, and learn as educators and activists make shared progress to advance conceptual and operational understanding of global learning, global citizenship, cultural humility, and critical reflection. Further articulation of the scales appears on page 5. Actual scales appear in Appendix B. The data consists of: (1) participant background information, (2) program factors, and (3) responses to closed and open-ended questions. For the analyses that follow, only the sample of matched cases (n=219) was utilized to examine significant differences between the pre- and post-test surveys. Multi-institutional: In the 2018 GES, nine institutions/ organizations participated. The participating institutions facilitated 102 different programs intended to support global learning. The participating institutions/ organizations were: Child Family Health International, Cornell University, East Carolina University, Elon University, Haverford College, Northwestern University, Queens University of Charlotte, Quinnipiac University, and The University of the South: Sewanee. Survey completion rates: The survey completion rates for this year are represented as follows:

Findings: Quantitative Analysis

Participants: The participants indicated they are majority: female (76%), were born in the United States (76%), grew up in a suburban area (60%), are White (46%), have not participated in volunteer service before (56%), and report political views as far left or liberal (60%). Demographic data and program factors: The analysis illustrates bivariate associations between learning outcomes and select demographic and program variables. As bivariate analyses, these associations do not control for any third variables that may mediate or moderate these relationships. As the GES population grows moving forward, we will include multivariate analyses in our analyses. The following demographic categories were correlated with significant differences on participants’ scores on at least one of the scales in the pre-survey (n=847): gender, race/ ethnicity, country of birth, area where you grew up, prior volunteer experience, parental income, and political views. The following program factors were correlated with significant difference on at least one of the scales in the pre-survey: STEM, student cohort, number of credits, required/ elective, student selection, student – community language relationship, student – community SES relationship, program leader’s relationship with the host community, location of program, immersion site classification, program leader present with students on site, time horizon of program, and community engagement. Scales: For the total data set (n=219), there was significant change in the expected direction from pre- to post-survey for the following scales:
  • Openness to diversity (OD)
  • Civic efficacy (CE)
Because multiple institutions participate in the GES, it enables multi-institutional comparison to identify interesting patterns. The graph below displays the pre- and post-survey means on the Human rights beliefs (HRB) scale for the total data set and two individual institutions/ organizations. The graph provides an example of some differences between institutions on the scales that specific institutional reports examine further.

Findings: Qualitative Analysis

Because we are in the fifth year of the GES, qualitative analysis highlighted differences from year to year that relate to the current political moment.
  • Across the total data set and individual institutions/ organizations, the number of participants that described diversity related to politics and religion was much higher this year than in past years.
  • Participants focused on "language" as part of their understanding of diversity which did not surface as much in past years.
  • When asked about feeling uncomfortable discussing diversity, participant comments described fear of offending someone across all years of the dataset. However, in the 2018 data comments about the “fear of offending” reflected two slightly different categories: fear or offending and fear of conflict.
  • When asked about decisions to make ethical decisions when spending money, the majority of participants connected individual decisions to larger systems or structures. In past years, multiple participants across institutions/ organizations also described efforts as charitable or weighing what they need against what they want. This year, many more participants provided specific examples including actions and strategies that they employ in their daily lives than in past years.


The GES uniquely brings institutions and organizations into a common dataset to better understand the impact of specific program factors on broadly shared global learning goals. Through globalsl’s role as a hub, we are able to look across programs and consider possible differences stemming from variations in student population, institutional cultures, and specific programming choices and opportunities. If you are interested in joining us in this effort, please visit our membership page or contact Nora Pillard Reynolds (npreynolds@haverford.edu). [1] Adaptations reflect a focus on cultural humility and critical reflection, as articulated in Hartman, E., Kiely, R., Friedrichs, J., & Boettcher, C. (2018). Community-based global learning: The theory and practice of ethical engagement at home and abroad. Sterling, VA: Stylus Publishing. [2] Ibid. And Appendix A.