Global Citizenship and Equity Learning Experiences Evaluation

Global Citizenship and Equity Learning Experiences Evaluation

In 2009, Centennial College launched its Global Citizenship and Equity Learning Experiences (GCELEs), which are funded service learning opportunities in local and global communities open to all staff and students. Incorporating a minimum of three Global Citizenship and Equity (GCE) Learning Outcomes, all GCELE proposals are authored by Centennial College employees in collaboration with diverse community organizations using a social justice framework to ensure a critical service-learning approach.

The goals of GCELEs allow student participants to actively participate in thoughtfully organized learning experiences that work to advance the social justice goals of the partnering community organizations within each respective region. The intention of each GCELE project is to examine both the historical precedents of the social problems addressed in classroom learning and the impact of their personal action/inaction in maintaining and transforming those social issues.

In 2013, the Centre for Global Citizenship Education and Inclusion (GCEI) received a research grant to explore the impact of the GCELEs on Centennial student participants, in addition, to determine how the participation in GCELE projects further prepares students to succeed in an evolving global economy. The main purpose of this research study is:

  • To enhance understanding of the GCELE students experience
  • To examine how the integration of GCE learning in each GCELE Project was actualized
  • To uncover how social media, more specifically blogging, can be used as an effective tool for reflective practice before and after international critical service learning projects

This research project used mixed methods approach for data collection. Data was collected from three GCELE cohorts from 2013-2014. In total 248 students within 19 GCELE projects from 2013-2014 participated in the research study. Participants completed two online surveys (one survey before departure and one three months after they return) that measure their self-perceptions and attitudes towards various elements of social justice, global inequity, global citizenship, inclusion, social responsibility and critical service learning. All students were also invited to participate in a one-hour focus group discussion to share their perspectives six months after the trip to further reveal impact and its sustainability of critical service learning. Students were required to write blogs before, during and after participating in a project describing their experience through reflective practice, a meaning-making process that moves a learner from one experience into the next with deeper understanding of its relationships with and connections to other experiences and ideas. This research project included two repeat bloggers blog posts from each GCELE project, in total, 56 out of 219 blog posts were selected for analysis. All data from surveys, focus group and blog posts were analyzed in survey monkey and NVivo under four research themes: (1) Knowledge and Critical Thinking of Global Issues, (2) Personal Development and Employability Skills, (3) Power, Privilege and Equity and (4) Global Citizenship Education.

In the post-trip survey, the data revealed 82% participants mentioned participation in GCELEs helped them in enhancing knowledge of other cultures, 78% participants reported GCELEs raised their awareness on social issues and 73% students said GCELEs helped connect diverse local/global communities. Self-esteem of students increased by 18% in the post-trip survey compared to pre-departure survey data. The capacity to work with other people and within the team increased by 25% and acceptance of people from diverse cultures increased by 24%. Data from this research project demonstrated that the GCELEs were effective in offering a transformative learning experience through a critical service-learning model. Most of the students mentioned in post-survey (67%), group discussion and also in blog posts written after the trip that they would like to volunteer with social change organizations. Furthermore, the research indicated that blogging is an effective tool to increase student engagement in local/global critical service learning experiences.

In summary, findings from this research illustrated that the GCELEs were transformative learning experiences that allowed students to further develop their professional and personal skills while actively addressing issues of power, privilege and collective social responsibility. Most notably, the main outcome of each GCELE project was a better understanding of values of global citizenship and intercultural intelligence among all student participants. Increasing the number of days of stay in the community could ensure future involvement of the interested students who would want to go back to the community to work with community partners to bring about positive social change and would ensure the future sustainability of the activities taken by the GCELE projects in the community. In addition, connecting GCELE participants with local and global organizations to continue to address issues relevant to their GCELE experience would be beneficial for both the community and students.

Resources

GCELE Evaluation Project