Global Awareness of Students at The University of North Carolina

A Research Analysis
Shelby Ervin Amanda Watson Chris Johnson Ashley Johnson Miranda Freeman Jason Nicoletta 12/13/2007

From August to November of 2007, our team of students undertook a research project to examine the level of global awareness among students at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro. Our team wanted to test the hypothesis, students who have been exposed to global experiences are more aware of global issues and concerns than those who have not been exposed to such experiences. This report is going to provide an analysis of the methods used for research as well as findings from quantitative and qualitative data collections. Each team was responsible for the analysis of the findings and testing their hypotheses. There was also a literature review to provide our team with prior information on techniques and studies that had been used previously in similar research projects. The unofficial results are described in this report and a detailed description of the methods used to collect the research is also provided. There is a literature review to provide knowledge obtained prior to the project.

Literature Review
There were two main themes that emerge from the literature review. According to researchers, foreign language education helps in a participant’s global awareness. Also, if a student takes a course in a study abroad program, then their global awareness tens to be much higher than if they only receive an education in the United States. We found one article that stated that both Japan and the United States are concerned with the importance of university students’ knowledge about the world and their awareness of global

problems. Research was conducted because of that concern in order to make a comparison of the educational systems. They found that the topic has not been widely researched, and there has been little empirical evidence presented on the topic (Cogan, John, Torney-Purta, Anderson 1988). The results of one survey suggest that some programs falling under the general category of global education do make a positive contribution to the global awareness and concerns of secondary school students. The effective programs appear to be those which have been established for several years, those which combine curricular with extra-curricular activities, and those which have stressed teacher training. Some of the variables which predicted global awareness confirmed common sense predictions. Brighter students did better on the test than the less bright. The better students also being more globally concerned, it is also reasonable that students who read the international news in the paper and watch the news on television are more knowledgeable about global issues and more concerned. Students who have taken higher levels of foreign language courses tend to be extremely globally concerned. (Torney-Purta 1986) Long believes that education is the way to achieve global awareness. Long feels that in order to fix the problem educational institutions in America we should encourage our youth to use their education to develop their linguistic skills and have understanding and sensitivity to people in other countries. Long feels that this is a national problem and needs to be resolved using the help of educators, the general public and legislative representatives. A suggestion that Long offers is that all high school students planning to go to college should take three to four years of a foreign language so that the students has at least an elementary degree of fluency. Long also believes that foreign language should not be restricted to just Spanish, German and French and we need to encourage more students to become fluent in other languages like

Russian, Chinese, Arabic, and Japanese. (Long 1985). Although this was not part of our focus, we believe that a foreign language requirement would help to promote global awareness by giving students background knowledge of another culture and place. Next we found an article that suggests that not only the material taught is important but the teacher is important for promoting global awareness. “Teaching in the Dark” looks at how many university students had difficulties understanding the events that had taken place after the attacks on September 11, 2001. Some students appeared to have no structure for understanding the global connections of these events. The researchers concluded that our students’ geopolitical knowledge of the world was imprecise. However, the researchers were unsure of the extent of the difficulty. As a response to 9/11, this study was produced (Holm, Gunilla and Farber 2002). After doing some research we think that over the past seven years global awareness has increased slightly and this is probably caused by the events on September 11th but there is not empirical evidence to prove this theory. “Teaching in the Dark” highlights how the involvement of teachers with respects to the global awareness of students. The point that is made is that teachers are on the spot. There is a clear and present need for teachers to respond in informed and insightful ways to situations and issues of great complexity. The world of the classroom is increasingly affected by diverse tendencies of globalization, as is the larger world studied in that classroom. In many ways, direct and indirect, opportunities exist for teachers at all levels, across the curriculum and in a variety of interpersonal exchanges, to extend student capacity for understanding and dialogue. In response to this challenge, teachers have within their power and responsibility to nurture students up into a vital conversation and instill in them the attitude to acquire knowledge about the farreaching implications of what develops in world history (Holm 2002).

The researchers sought out other students at a similar point in time in their professional development, in order to gain a clearer sense of the scope and parameters of their knowledge. This study was conducted in the teacher education program of a large, public university in the Midwestern United States. This particular teacher education program is one of the largest in the United States. In the fall semester of 2001 there were nearly 2,000 students enrolled. I found it particularly interesting that the students involved in this program were mainly white (94%) and native English speakers. Most of the students considered themselves apart of the middle class and belonged to the Christian faith. Those who were surveyed were third and fourth year undergraduate teacher education majors. In all, 129 students responded to the questionnaire given in one of their classes. Some interesting figures that I found in this study were that sixtyeight percent of the students surveyed were female and eighty-one percent were under the age of twenty-five (Holm 2002). For the most part this group of students represents the student body at UNCG but not the survey population. The survey was designed to focus on varieties of the individual student’s impersonal knowledge and information. These are a few examples of the type of questions that were in the survey. Given their propinquity to Canada, students were asked to name as many of the provinces and territories of Canada as they could. There were a number of questions involved the detection or identification of people and other proper names for treaties and organizations that appear widely in international news stories today. A series of questions were designed as indicators of global awareness of important demographic characteristics of diverse nations and regions. This type of knowledge was what our groups’ questions were testing for. This study did a wonderful job in pointing out the fact that many education majors were not globally aware of what is going on in the world around them (Holm 2002).

The next article comes from the Journal of College & Character. The article focuses its content on how to make our students more globally aware. One is the recommendation of befriending international students. These students are said to be “invisible” on campuses. But, because of their cultures they tend to have a wealth of insight toward global society. This is an aspect we tested for during our survey and we found that people who interacted with foreign born people more often were more globally aware than those who did interact with foreign born people frequently (Lee 2006). In our research we asked how often the person surveyed interacted with foreign born persons and what type of relationship they had with those persons. This did seem to make a difference in whether or the person is globally aware or not. We found that there are many different opinions on whether or not students are globally aware. We also found that there were many different approaches to educating our youth about global awareness.

Methodology
Based on our review of the literature we hypothesized that UNCG students who have been engaged in global or international experiences will be more globally aware than those who have no had such opportunities. More importantly, we believe that the inverse will be true as well: that UNCG students who have NOT been subjected to global experiences will be less globally aware. In order to test this hypothesis we first needed to operationalize the concepts “global experiences” and “global awareness”. We determined, that following current events in the news, traveling abroad, following news items on the radio, interacting with foreigners, related well with both, knowledge of current events, and geographic knowledge, and would be good measures of

global experience. Specifically we developed the following questions about global awareness and experiences to use in our interviews: o How often do you read or watch the news in regards to global issues? o What media sources do you use? Newspaper, TV, Magazines, Radio, Internet? o Can you name the five countries that are highlighted on this map? o What other name is given to the Great War? o Can you name four countries that were involved? o Why is Darfur in the news? o In what country is Darfur? o What is the conflict over and who is it between? o What is the name of the 1997 convention or treaty in which individual countries agree to reduce greenhouse gas emissions? When choosing these questions, our group tried to choose a few questions that were easier (What other name is given to the Great War? Can you name four countries that were involved? Why is Darfur in the news? In what country is Darfur? What is the conflict over and who is it between?), and ones that we felt that many students would have at least heard of from watching the news, or reading magazines. In addition, it helped that there were always posters of issues concerning Darfur on the walls in the hallway of any academic building. On the other hand, we wanted to choose a more difficult question (What is the name of the 1997 convention or treaty in which individual countries agree to reduce greenhouse gas emissions?) We felt that it was imperative to ask considerably easy questions (Darfur), a question in the middle range (The Great War), and a noticeably difficult question (Kyoto Protocol). The map questions were

provided to establish a level of geographic awareness which when analyzed would speak to a student’s global awareness. After our group decided on and finalized our questions, they were then compiled into master protocol with the entire class. Each student in our Sociology 301: Introduction to Methods and Research then chose a willing participant (UNCG Students) to answer the questions. After the interviews were completed, each researcher created a synopsis of their findings using direct quotes from the interviewee. It is very important to note that no direct transcripts were used. Each interviewer created a summary of their findings that included detailed verbatim quotes from their respective interviewee. The summary of the interviewers’ findings were assembled into a narrative format. These summaries also included information about how each interviewer and interviewee met, how long they talked, the demographics of the interviewee, and a discussion of their answers to the questions above. Next, we used the classes’ interview synopsis to develop a hypothesis on the relationships between global experience and knowledge. We posed that UNCG students who have NOT been subjected to global experiences would be less globally aware than those who have. Our next step in the group projects was to develop a set of survey questions from our new hypothesis. We chose to include a map test as a result of the interesting feedback we received in the interviews. In this test, we chose 10 countries that all fit on a scale from relatively easy to relatively difficult. The following countries were included: Venezuela, Morocco, Norway, Iraq, China, Japan, France, Madagascar, Brazil, and Paraguay. The next group of questions had the following choices: several times daily, daily several times a week, weekly, several times a month. Just like in the interviews, we wanted to establish that foundation of global awareness on a larger scale with these questions.

o How frequently do you watch international news on TV? o How frequently do you read international news from newspapers or magazines? o How frequently do you read international news from the internet? Again, because of the responses that we received from the interviews, our group decided to include both the Kyoto Protocol and the Darfur questions. We were interested to see on a larger scale what percentage would get these questions right and who would get them wrong. o What is the name of the 1997 convention or treaty in which individual countries agree to reduce greenhouse gas emissions? o In what country is Darfur? Surveys were then presented to students in SOC 101- Introduction to Sociology, SOC 227Race and Ethnic Relations, SOC 202- Social Problems Global Context, SOC 346- Population Problems, SOC 342- Social Inequality, and another section of SOC 301- Intro to Methods & Research. It is important to note that the sample of UNCG students obtained was a convenient sample and does not represent a statistically reliable sample for all students at UNCG. Surveys were then hand coded and entered into a spreadsheet followed by data verification and cleaning. Analysis was then completed using univariate and bivariate procedures in SPSS. It is noted that there were several limitations to the methods employed. In particular, only Sociology classes were used. Although, there are students from different majors taking the introductory courses; the majority of the students surveyed were sociology majors. This might have limited the scope and variety of answers that were received.

Interview Findings
The interviews were conducted with 24 students at UNCG. They took about one hour to complete. The data collected was qualitative in nature and allowed for a richer response than the quantitative survey which followed. There were 6 males and 16 female with ages ranging from 18 to 45 years with the average being about 22 years old. Of the respondents 41 percent are from NC, People from outside of North Carolina but still from the United States was 32 percent, and 2 people were from outside the United States. From reviewing the 22 responses we found that most did not seek global awareness though media outlets. Out of 21 responses, 14 were wrong when asked to tell what The Great War was and to name three countries who participated in it. There were 7 correct responses indicating World War I and naming three countries. Next we asked a question about where Darfur is located and why it is appearing in the national news. There were 13 correct and 9 incorrect. Next we had a question testing the knowledge of global current events. The question was to “Name the treaty that was designed to lower global greenhouse gases”. From this question 6 responses were correct. Comparing this to the previous question this was answered correctly half as much. We think this is relevant because as you walk around campus there are flyers on most bulletin boards making some type of reference to Darfur, but we could find nothing on The Kyoto Protocol. The map test administered on the qualitative interview was identical to the survey but it only asked 9 countries. There were four individuals who answered all 9 countries correctly. There were four completely incorrect answers. Five individuals answered 5 or more countries correctly. Brazil was the most correct answer on both the survey and the interview. In the interview the responses indicated more correct answers to the questions on global awareness than those on geographic awareness. The graph below shows the correct answer for the interview

and when compared to the survey there is a direct correlation between the two. In both cases Brazil was correctly answered the most.

Our survey had 361 respondents. The average age is 20.2 years old, and the range of ages goes from 17 to 56 years old. A majority of the respondents were non-Hispanic white/ Anglo, followed by black/African Americans, Hispanic/ Latino, Asian/ Pacific Islander,, Native American/American Indian, Near East Asian or Arab-America, and final a category for individuals who classify themselves as “other ethnicity”. Most (56%) currently live on campus, 26 percent live off campus alone, 11 percent reside off campus with parents, 6 percent reside off campus with other family, and 1 percent classify there place of living as “Other”. A majority of our respondents, 47.5 percent were freshman, 21 percent were sophomores, 15 percent were juniors, 14 percent were seniors and 3 percent classified themselves as “Other”. The average number of credits is 35. Natives of North Carolina were 57.6 percent, 40.15 percent were from another state and 2.25 percent are from another country. Over half of our respondents (55.4%) have had the opportunity to visit another country.

Survey Findings
The first test of our hypothesis was to construct a contingency table to examine the relationship between frequency of experiences (news, contact with foreigners, etc) and awareness of global geography. The cross tabulation is 3 by 3; which is low, mid, and high frequency of experience and low, mid, and high scores on the geography test. We did this by creating a “Z” score and then assigning a value to create the high, mid, and low ranges. This test was based on a global map with 10 countries randomly picked for identification that covered all regions. We measured frequency of experience by asking questions that measured the amount of global news absorbed by multiple media sources and contact with foreign born people. First, based on the findings we can see a clear relationship that experience does have a positive impact on the knowledge of geography. Of those having a high frequency of experience 43.4% scored in the high range of the map test scores as compared with those of mid and low levels of international experience. Only 15.8% of those with mid levels of international experience and 11.1% of those with low levels of international experience scored in the high category on the map test.

Standardize d Fre q of Exp * M apsHIM IDLO Crosstabulation MapsHIMIDLO Mid 2 14 77.8% 8.0% 5.4% 134 70.5% 77.0% 51.3% 26 49.1% 14.9% 10.0% 174 66.7% 100.0% 66.7%

Lo Standardized Freq of Exp Low Count % within Standardized Freq of Exp % within MapsHIMIDLO % of Total Count % within Standardized Freq of Exp % within MapsHIMIDLO % of Total Count % within Standardized Freq of Exp % within MapsHIMIDLO % of Total Count % within Standardized Freq of Exp % within MapsHIMIDLO % of Total

High 2 11.1% 3.6% .8% 30 15.8% 54.5% 11.5% 23 43.4% 41.8% 8.8% 55 21.1% 100.0% 21.1%

Total 18 100.0% 6.9% 6.9% 190 100.0% 72.8% 72.8% 53 100.0% 20.3% 20.3% 261 100.0% 100.0% 100.0%

11.1% 6.3% .8% 26 13.7% 81.3% 10.0% 4 7.5% 12.5% 1.5% 32 12.3% 100.0% 12.3%

Mid

High

Total

Again we looked at the frequency of experience but this time compared it with the questions that dealt with awareness of global issues. We developed questions that we thought would reflect current events. We used “What country is Darfur in, and What is the name of the 1997 convention or treaty in which individual countries agree to reduce greenhouse gas emissions?” We then looked at how this compares to their actual answers regarding their frequency of global interactions and experiences. Again we can identify a positive relationship between the individuals who have a high level of experiences (traveling outside the U.S., global media absorption, and human interaction with foreign people) and those who do not. We had 173 valid cases which equates to 47.9 percent of the surveyed. People who had the highest frequency of experience also had the highest score of global issue awareness (answering both questions correctly), which was 14.7 percent. This is very high when compared to the individuals with mid experience 3.2 percent and those with low experience who scored 0. People with the lowest frequency of experience did have the lowest awareness of global issues.

Standardize d Fre q of Exp * Aware ne ss of global issue s Crosstabulation Awareness of global issues Low Mid High 11 2 0 84.6% 93 73.8% 9 26.5% 113 65.3% 15.4% 29 23.0% 20 58.8% 51 29.5% .0% 4 3.2% 5 14.7% 9 5.2%

Standardized Freq of Exp

Low

Mid

High

Total

Count % within Standardized Freq of Exp Count % within Standardized Freq of Exp Count % within Standardized Freq of Exp Count % within Standardized Freq of Exp

Total 13 100.0% 126 100.0% 34 100.0% 173 100.0%

Looking at the maps we scan see that people who have more frequency of traveling outside the United States answered more countries on the map correctly. have also a greater knowledge of georgraphy. If we look at the same type of question but now based on whether you have traveled outside the United States. People who had a higher frequency of travel scored 24.2 percent in the high score for the maps. Those who had no travel experience scored 70.8 in the middle score of accuracy on the map quize.
How many countrie s outside of the USA hav e you v isite d? * M apsHIM IDLO Crosstabulation MapsHIMIDLO Mid 16 80 70.8% 99 66.4% 179 68.3%

Lo How many countries outside of the USA have you visited? 0 Count % within How many countries outside of the USA have you visited? Count % within How many countries outside of the USA have you visited? Count % within How many countries outside of the USA have you visited?

High 17 15.0% 36 24.2% 53 20.2%

Total 113 100.0% 149 100.0% 262 100.0%

14.2% 14 9.4% 30 11.5%

1

Total

Next we had a self evaluation question asking, “How globally aware do you think you are?” We then took these responses and compared them to the knowledge of global issues which was determined by asking questions in regards to global current events. We had 180 valid responses which equate to 50 percent of the surveyed. Again there appears to be a positive relationship. 61 percent of the people who believe they have a high amount of global awareness scored 7.3 in the high category for correct responses. Compare this to the people who thought they had a middle range of awareness and scored 0. One person thought they had a low global awareness and correctly answered the questions on current events. Again, looking from the bottom up we can see that 82.9 percent of those who felt they have a low global awareness in fact did answer the questions incorrectly.
Fe e lAware * Aware ne ss of global issue s Crosstabulation Awareness Low 34 82.9% 25 83.3% 60 55.0% 119 66.1% of global issues Mid High 6 1 14.6% 2.4% 5 0 16.7% .0% 41 8 37.6% 7.3% 52 9 28.9% 5.0%

FeelAware

Low Mid High

Total

Count % within Count % within Count % within Count % within

FeelAware FeelAware FeelAware FeelAware

Total 41 100.0% 30 100.0% 109 100.0% 180 100.0%

If we look at the same self evaluation of global awareness and apply it to how well they did on the maps we see a relationship that shows people who think they do not have global awareness did not do well on the test, and those who thought they had global awareness did fairly better scoring a majority in the mid awareness category and lesser in the high knowledge of geography,

FeelAware * MapsHIMIDLO Crosstabulation MapsHIMIDLO Lo FeelAwar Disagre e e FeelAware Neutral Count % within FeelAware Count % within FeelAware Count % within FeelAware Using the same set of questions in regards to awareness of global issues i.e. current events, we then looked at how this compares to their actual answers regarding their frequency of global interactions and experiences. Again we can identify a positive relationship between the individuals who have a high level of experiences (traveling outside the U.S., global media absorption, and human interaction with foreign people) and those who do not. We had 173 valid cases which equates to 47.9 percent of the surveyed. People who had the highest frequency of experience also had the highest score of global issue awareness, which was 14.7 percent. This is very high when compared to the individuals with mid experience 3.2 percent and those with low experience who scored 0. People with the lowest frequency of experience did have the lowest awareness of global issues. Count % within 13 22.0% 4 9.3% Agree 15 9.1% Total 32 12.0% Mid 37 62.7% 35 81.4% 108 65.5% 180 67.4% High 9 15.3% 4 9.3% 42 25.5% 55 20.6% 59 100.0% 43 100.0% 165 100.0% 267 100.0% Total

Standardize d Fre q of Exp * Aware ne ss of global issue s Crosstabulation Awareness of global issues Low Mid High 11 2 0 84.6% 93 73.8% 9 26.5% 113 65.3% 15.4% 29 23.0% 20 58.8% 51 29.5% .0% 4 3.2% 5 14.7% 9 5.2%

Standardized Freq of Exp

Low

Mid

High

Total

Count % within Standardized Freq of Exp Count % within Standardized Freq of Exp Count % within Standardized Freq of Exp Count % within Standardized Freq of Exp

Total 13 100.0% 126 100.0% 34 100.0% 173 100.0%

Additonal Findings
After analyzing the data some of our additional findings are that in general men are better at the geography test. Thisd could be skewed because of the large number of men in the survey in comparison to female respondents. This does not say much thougyh, because in general only 20.2 people answered the map correctly.

Summary and Conclusion
The findings in our study are of great importance because of they show that the level of global experience does correlate with the global awarenes, as we defined in our research. By testing for global experience based on exposure to the many resources we allowed for further research into the importance of particular experiences and their contribution to a persons global awareness. Our findings show that it is plausible to infer that if an education model focused on geographic knowledge were to be administered the students subjected to the test will indeed be more globally aware than those students in a general education model. Implied in that finding is that general education models are too broad to effectively encourage global awareness. A

standing question that the group neeeds answered is how the participants arrived at the answers that they put on the geographic knowledge section of the survey, because we are unable to determine how the test participants figure out which country is which, whether it is through specific knowledge of geography or whether it is general knowledge and spatial identification, because the difference could be from their global experiences, which would further prove our hypothesis. It would be highly beneficial for us to do a post-test interview with those participants that completed the map section to see how they arrived at their answers. Some of the problems with our testing method, but also our hypothesis though proven to be correct are that the population surveyed is not representative to the general population of the university, because the test population is majority female, much like the university population is majority female. For a more generalizable study a more balanced test participant group is needed because of the overwhelmingly female population of the university population. A more thorough study may yield gender distinctions that could prove significant in further study of global awareness in post-secondary students. The broad nature of our test questions leaves out other factors, such as academic major, as influences of global awareness and contribution to global experience in a participant, or because in today’s world the average age of the college student is steadily rising because more adult students and students taking time off for various reasons, which allows for the average participant to have more global experiences before and during their time in college. The findings from the cross-tabulation of frequency of experience and self-rating of global awareness, show that although there is at face awareness of global issues, the level of awareness of global issues is not significantly effected by a person’s global experieces, but it does show that there is a slight relation between the two. Within this cross-tabulation we found

that it is important to ascertain, through what means do the test participants gain the majority of their knowledge of global issues, because much like the other findings it may speak to whether or not the resources utilized correlate with our definition of global experiences, as well as the our ideal of acceptable resources, such as more uncommon ways of attaining information on global issues, as well as having global experiences. These as well as others are unidentified or possibly less available/known to the public. Factors such as these should be looked into for further study, to measure their effectiveness in changing the level of global awareness in their users versus the users of acceptedly more common resources. We feel that there are many underlying factors that may contribute to a person’s level of global awareness, and the topic warrants much deeper analysis and testing. Within the general survey there are points that may have a influence on global experience itself, such as a participants major, both because of the requirements of the major, but also the reasons for the participants selection of that particular major. While there are many untested correlations in predicting global awareness our findings have shown that in our study the level of global experience as defined and tested through geographic knowledge, awareness of global issues, and the participant’s own self-evaluation of their global awareness, does prove to influence a persons overall level of global awareness. Thus, this proves our hypothesis that individuals with higher global experience will have a higher global awareness.

Citations
Cogan, John, Judith Torney-Purta, Douglas Anderson. 1988. “Knowledge and Attitudes toward Global Issues: Students in Japan and the United States.” Comparative Education Review 32:282-297. Accessed online at: http://links.jstor.org/sici?sici=00104086%28198808%2932%3A3%3C282%3AKAATGI%3E2.0.CO%3B2-D Holm, Gunilla, Paul Farber. 2002. “Teaching in the Dark: The Geopolitical Knowledge and Global Awareness of the Next Generation of American Teachers.” International Studies in Sociology of Education 12:129-144. Lee, Jenny J. 2006. “Global Citizenship: Extending Students’ Knowledge and Action to the Global Contex.” Journal of College & Character7:1. Long, Delbert H., Roberta A. Long. 1985. “Toward The Promotion of Foreign Language Study and Global Understanding” Education 105:4. Accessed online at: http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=aph&AN=4721736&site=ehostlive Torney-Purta Judith. 1986. Predictors of Global Awareness and Concern among Secondary School Students. Citizenship Development and Global Education Program, Columbus, OH: Ohio State University.

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