International Opinion

Tools for Measuring Global Competence in Future Teachers

By Anthony Jackson — September 03, 2014 5 min read
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Today Caitlin Haugen, Executive Director, Global Teacher Education, tackles the difficult question of how to measure global competence in pre-service teachers and highlights tools that can be of assistance.

by Caitlin Haugen

How do I measure global competence in pre-service teachers?

This is, hands down, one of the most frequently asked questions (FAQs) I encounter when I speak about developing globally competent teachers. Many of the teacher educators I meet are interested in ensuring their students are prepared to teach in 21st century classrooms. In a time where teacher education is facing increasing pressure over accountability, they often seek suggestions for a measurement tool to assess their graduates—often in the form of pre- and post-tests that show growth over time to accurately measure their skills.

Unfortunately, it is not that simple.

Training globally competent teachers is a multi-faceted issue, requiring a multi-faceted approach. It cannot be accomplished with a single course, experience, or—most importantly—with a single measure. With that response, I generally field a series of follow-up questions that I refer to as the “FAQs of Measuring Global Competence in Future Teachers,” which I share below, providing insights from the field to shed some light on these questions.

Where do I start?
Start with faculty. Teacher educators cannot evaluate the global competence skills of their pre-service teachers if they themselves do not recognize or posses them. Kenneth Cushner, a faculty member at Kent State University, researches intercultural competence development in future teachers and their faculty. He suggests finding teacher educators with significant intercultural experience to lead the charge.

Colleges of education may utilize any number of tools to gauge global competence. The Center for International Education at George Mason University, for example, asked faculty to take the Intercultural Development Inventory (IDI) as part of a faculty development initiative. Professor Beverly Shaklee, the Center’s Director, notes that they use the tool to determine how participating faculty have gained intercultural competence (as defined by IDI), and how those skills are reflected in their instruction. Shaklee states that their driving question is: “If teacher educators are to be preparing in- and pre-service teachers for a global society—in what ways are they interculturally competent and where did they get their experience leading to this particular disposition or skill set.”

Faculty who lack the relevant competencies require training—and likely international and intercultural experiences to build the necessary knowledge, skills, and dispositions. This includes student teaching supervisors (often experienced educators, hired as adjunct faculty) because they observe student teachers during their field experience; they are pivotal in evaluating whether teachers exhibit global competence skills in the classroom and if they can teach those skills to their students.

What is the best tool or instrument?
It depends. Darla Deardorff, Executive Director of the Association of International Education Administrators and author of the forthcoming book Demystifying Outcomes Assessment for International Educators: A Practical Approach, has advised several colleges of education on choosing the right tool. She argues that the leadership must choose an instrument that aligns with their teacher education program’s goals, strategic plan, and existing outcomes. With over 140 tools to choose from, this is not an easy task.

Jayne Fleener, is Dean of the College of Education at North Carolina State University and a member of the North Carolina Council of Education Deans, a group of nearly 20 universities in the state working to internationalize their teacher education programs. She spent considerable time weighing options and now uses the Cross-Cultural Adaptability Inventory (CCAI). She states that the instrument is relevant because it allows participants to self-assess along four dimensions (autonomy, emotional resilience, flexibility and openness, and perceptual acuity). She adds, “These dimensions seem to especially fit our LEAD and SERVE conceptual framework and the knowledge, skills, and dispositions we consider in assessing our candidates.” To ensure it is the right fit, it is still being field-tested with her students who student teach abroad, but she states, “we are interested in looking at all of our students along these dimensions and at their growth throughout the teacher preparation program.”

Many teacher educators express that the available instruments are not relevant for pre-service teachers because the nature of their training and how they apply global competence skills are unique to their profession. NAFSA is currently addressing this need by developing My Cultural Awareness Profile (myCAP) , an instrument specifically intended for use with pre-service teachers.

Deardorff offers another consideration: “It is important to use multiple measures.” In addition to using tools that offer indirect evidence, she argues that teacher educators “need to have direct evidence as well. This provides a more complete picture.” Examples of direct evidence include classroom observations or student work.

How should I use the instrument?
The way it was intended. “Any time a tool is used for a purpose other than what it is intended,” Deardorff asserts, “the results are invalid.” Some tools are designed for self-reflection, for example, not assessment that may impact a candidate’s licensure. Due to misinformation, she argues, many tools are used for purposes other than what they were intended.

Jocelyn Glazier is a professor at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill who worked with a research team to develop the Globally Competent Teaching Continuum—a new, free online self-reflection tool. She offers a word of caution. “One of the things we have tried to ensure in the creation and dissemination of the Continuum is to be sure it is not identified as an assessment tool. The tool is really for personal growth and professional development rather than for high stakes assessment.... We want to make sure it doesn’t become another way teachers are assessed by others on their performance.”

Research various options and discuss goals with the instrument’s designers. Check that the tool is relevant for use with pre-service teachers.

How do I help my pre-service teachers develop global competence? Through a targeted course or experience—such as student teaching abroad?

I turned back to Cusher for an answer to this question. He argues, “In teacher education, most of us do not assume that we can take individuals and in six weeks make them good teachers. We slowly help them to develop the competence and the confidence to become professionals. We might consider doing the same for intercultural competence.”

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