More than global mindedness: a mixed method exploration of a us-mexico collaboration project on american secondary students' understanding of global food supply and 21st century skills
Sahabi, Shannon W.
The research literature suggests numerous affective and skill-based benefits for American K-12 students when using Project-Based Learning (PBL) based Global Collaboration Projects (GCPs) in the classroom. Students are afforded opportunities to deepen their understanding and awareness of other cultures (affective domain of attitudes) and build skills necessary for the 21st century (psychomotor domain of skills) as they address a real world problem. This awareness can be quantified as Global Mindedness (GM), defined as a worldview in which one sees oneself as connected and responsible to the global community. Twenty-first century skills are generally viewed as skills specific to communication, creativity, critical thinking, and collaboration. Presently, there is a dearth of research investigating how participation in GCPs augments students’ content understanding within cognitive domains (of knowledge) evidenced by academic achievement in a specific subject area. This is of particular interest to environmental science education, where students are taught the scientific underpinnings of local and global (glocal) issues that affect the Earth as a system (e.g. world hunger). Based upon international benchmark assessments, American students hold a poverty of understanding in science. Therefore, participation in GCPs where students interact with global peers while learning science, may better aid them in conceptualizing systemic environmental issues, facilitating a more robust understanding of scientific issue. This study examined the influence of a GCP on science understandings (achievement) as well as GM and 21st century skill growth, between two teachers and among four Advanced Placement (AP) Environmental Science classes in the same geographic location in Texas. All classrooms employed an identical 3-month PBL module on world hunger, where two classrooms (treatment) participated in a GCP with classrooms in Mexico, while the remaining classrooms (control) did not. Using an explanatory, sequential mixed methods approach using content assessments on an environmental science topic (i.e. world hunger), products of the PBL (posters), a Global Mindedness Survey (GMS), and open-ended responses (treatment only), quantitative and qualitative data were collected to evaluate the extent to which students’ participation in a GCP influenced their GM, 21st century skills, and (science) understanding of world hunger. Both GM and 21st century skills were also evaluated to provide an understanding of the PBL in developing students’ affect towards global issues (GM) and enhancing their ability to act (21st century skills) as global citizens. Results indicated there were no significant differences between control and treatment classrooms in academic achievement (test scores and PBL posters) and overall global mindedness (GMS). Results showed that GM decreased from pre-to-posttest for all groups; however, qualitative data (open-ended responses) revealed that students in the treatment classrooms perceived an increase in GM. Correlations between achievement and GM indicated that while there were no statistically significant relationships, the larger the increase in test score, the larger the increase in GM. The purpose of this study was to assess science content acquisition, as well as the added benefits of GM and 21st skill growth, in adding a GCP to PBL in an environmental science classroom. Although no significance differences were detected, treatment classrooms self-reported (open-ended questions) and were observed (PBL posters) to have gains in cultural pluralism, or respect for cultural differences in a global society. This research supports the growing importance of using sound pedagogy and opportunities for students to cultivate their 21st century skills (via PBL) in a globalizing world, and suggests further research is warranted for GCP use in K-12 science classrooms.