A new evaluation tool for COIL projects: Focus on the intercultural learning process
Lecturers from participating UAS7 universities in Germany and their State University of New York (SUNY) partners have integrated digital collaboration formats into their courses this spring (summer) semester. International digital cooperation formats are accessible to more target groups than the 'usual suspects' who might jump at any possibility to go abroad, making them a more inclusive type of international mobility.
The experience and skills in the fields of digital and international networking etc. will accompany students throughout their career. Through groupwork in international teams students acquire soft skills that are in great demand on the job market, such as increased language & communication skills, presentation and planning experience, and of course intercultural skills.
Aside from the opportunities for professional & academic exchange, the real benefit is above all the intercultural skills that students 'casually' acquire through these international projects. Since the UAS7 Virtual Academy is a joint project between several institutions, it seeks to bundle and harmonize competencies as much as possible in order to build capacity and ensure that the project has a trickle-down effect throughout the universities and beyond.
Experts on evaluation, quality management, and intercultural competence from all participating German universities joined forces to create a joint evaluation tool (questionnaire) for students, in order to measure the impact of the projects. The new questionnaire is not just a typical project evaluation, but rather a didactic means to make students aware of their own newly-developed intercultural skills. It features closed questions which students rank their answers from 'very strongly disagree' to ' very strongly agree', and which for example seeks to identify whether a student:
- feels more relaxed when interacting with people from different cultures,
- is now able to express how he/she sees the world,
- feels less afraid to express oneself when interacting with people from different cultures.
Students are motivated to reflect on their own skill development. At the same time, the method of self-reflection is an important part of the overall learning process. Ideally, how students respond should reflect extent to which the students were able to benefit from the international collaboration aspect of the project. The results will be analysed and will form the basis for considerations and improvements to future COIL projects.