Evaluating the Impact of Role-Playing Simulations on Global Competency in an Online Transnational Engineering Course

Wold, Kari, Curry School of Education, University of Virginia
Moore, Stephanie, Curry School of Education, University of Virginia

Successfully interacting with those from different cultures is essential to excel in any field, particularly when global, transnational collaborations in the workplace are increasingly common. However, many higher education students in engineering are not explicitly taught how to display the global competency skills desired by future employers. To display global competency skills means students must be able to visibly respect and recognize differences among those from different cultures. Global competency also means students must be able to show they can adjust their behaviors and integrate others’ ideas when working with those with cultural backgrounds other than their own. While these skills are now deemed essential for future engineers, many institutions are struggling with determining which strategies and activities are universally effective to allow students to practice the global competency skills now crucial for success.

Immersing engineering students in interactive role-playing simulations in transnational environments is one way institutions are encouraging students to illustrate and develop global competency skills. Role-playing simulations in transnational education provide environments where students adopt roles, interact with other students, and together explore and address realistic global problems. However, no studies have addressed whether or how role-playing simulations can help develop global competency in transnational engineering courses, students’ perceptions regarding whether they change their abilities to display global competency in those environments, and their perspectives the effectiveness of using role-playing simulations for this purpose.

To address this gap, this study assesses the impact of two subsequent role-playing simulations involving nuclear energy policy in a transnational course involving engineering students from the University of Virginia in Charlottesville, Virginia, and from Technische Universität Dortmund in Dortmund, Germany. The differences in students’ self-reports regarding whether their behaviors showing global competency skills changed were insignificant from pretests and posttests. However, data obtained from observations, surveys, and interviews showed students did increase their abilities to display global competency, and they believed role-playing simulations were useful in helping them do so. Findings from this study inform program designers and instructors on how to help students display, and improve their abilities to display, the global competency skills that will help them succeed in the world that awaits them.

PHD (Doctor of Philosophy)
All rights reserved (no additional license for public reuse)
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