Assessing global learning: Global Engagement Survey 2017

By Nora Pillard Reynolds

Click here for PDF of the 2017 Global Engagement Survey Executive Summary 

Click here for PDF of the full 2017 Global Engagement Survey 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 . The GES therefore considers global learning in respect to the three components of global citizenship, cultural humility, and critical reflection. 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.
Cultural Humility Openness to diversity OD
Self-awareness SA
Global Citizenship Civic efficacy CE
Political voice PV
Conscious consumption CC
Global civic values GCV
Human rights beliefs HRB
Critical Reflection Critical reflection CR
Further articulation of the scales appears in the full report. 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=153) was utilized to examine significant differences between the pre- and post-test surveys.

Findings: Quantitative Analysis

Participants: The participants indicated they: are majority female (75%), were born in the United States (89%), grew up in a suburban area (60%), are majority White (58%), and have not participated in volunteer service before (69%). 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 post-survey (n=125): prior volunteer experience and parental income (See page 8 in the full report for further discussion). The following program factors were correlated with significant differences on at least one of the scales in the post-survey: student selection, language requirement, program location, and components of community engagement. See pages 8-9 in the full report for further discussion. Scales: For the total data set (n=133), there was significant change in the expected direction from pre- to post-survey for the following scales:
  • Openness to diversity (OD)
  • Self-awareness (SA)
  • Civic efficacy (CE)
  • Conscious consumption (CC)
  • Political voice (PV)
  • Global civic values (GCV)

Findings: Qualitative Analysis

While there were similar qualitative patterns across the whole data set, there were also differences between institutions.
  • When considering diversity, multiple participants from one institution questioned the meaning of diversity across varying national or cultural contexts.
  • When considering diversity, participants from one institution focused on differences between their home context/ college context and college context/ off-campus community context.
  • When considering conscious consumption, multiple participants from one institution suggested connections between ethical spending and class/ privilege are problematic.
  • In describing their learning process, participants from most institutions seemed to shift from a focus on coursework in the pre-survey to a focus on immersion or opportunities for direct interaction in the post-survey. The participants from one institution were just as heavily focused on coursework in their post-survey responses as in their pre-survey responses.


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. Next steps • Total data set analysis from 2015 to present is underway. • An upcoming webinar for GES partners will facilitate peer-to-peer learning. During the webinar, we will begin discussion of processes for deepening involvement in qualitative analysis during the 18-19 academic year. The GES researchers would like to thank the institutional sponsors of; their support made this reporting possible. Institutions/ organizations that participated in the 2017 GES include: Child Family Health International, Cornell University, East Carolina University, Elon University, Haverford College, Northwestern University, & Queens University of Charlotte. To learn more about participating in the Global Engagement Survey, please contact