Student Success through Global Learning Outcomes

By Richard F. Johnson, Ph.D.; Director, Office of International Education


It has become a cliché to say that we need to educate our students for a global future. Indeed, it has been over a decade since the AAC&U identified global competencies and intercultural skills as essential components of a 21st century college education (Meacham and Gaff 2006).  Yet community colleges have lagged behind 4-year institutions in acknowledging the vital importance of global education in their mission statements, not to mention their curricula, faculty development agendas, and declared learning outcomes.

As community colleges educators, we are charged with preparing our students to participate effectively in a global workforce.  It is vital that our students be able to function in an interdependent, highly diverse, and fast-changing world, one that is increasingly marked by volatile differences. The implementation of Global Learning Outcomes across the diverse curricula of the community college, from traditional academic tracks to career and vocational programs, is the first step in meeting the charge of preparing students for these global realities.

The Office of International Education at Harper College has been hard at work addressing these challenges. Over the last two years, a group of faculty from across our campus have researched, vetted, and adopted five Global Learning Outcomes (GLOs) through an open, inclusive, and interdisciplinary process. In collaboration with department chairs and program coordinators, we have also mapped the GLOs to many of the college’s curricula.  We are presently developing rubrics for each of the outcomes and will pilot an assessment of several this spring.

Harper College’s five Global Learning Outcomes cover competencies that a student will have gained by successfully completing a globalized course at Harper College:

  1. Evaluate issues of social justice and sustainable development.
  2. Recognize the interdependence and interconnectedness of world systems.
  3. Demonstrate competence in intercultural communication.
  4. Demonstrate skills of critical analysis in cross-cultural comparisons.
  5. Articulate an understanding of global perspectives.

Since the goal of any learning outcome is to offer an instructor a means to assess the effectiveness of student learning, it needs not only to reflect the curriculum but also to inspire the curriculum and inform our teaching. There are three levels of integration of global content.

At the “Introduced” level, faculty present basic information about global concepts, show maps and/or images from abroad to students, ask them about their awareness of global concepts. At this level, assessment of GLOs is minimal. If the global content is “Reinforced,” students explore global concepts through directed activities, reading assignments, guided essays, class discussions and projects.  At this level, assessment may be in the form of exam questions, homework assignments and essays, and/or group projects. Finally, in a fully “Integrated” course, a significant portion of class is devoted to global concepts.  Students may complete entire units that focus on a global concept, issue, country, or region.  GLOs are assessed using exams, research papers, student presentations, and/or student projects.

So, how might faculty get involved?  Of course, there are an infinite number of ways, but for the sake of simplicity, here are six steps:

  1. Adopt one or more GLO in your classes. List them in your syllabus and assess them. If you aren’t comfortable with ours: come up with your own!
  2. Seek out and sign up for a professional development workshop. If your college doesn’t offer such workshops, seek out opportunities that are offered on a regular basis through a variety of organizations such as NAFSA and CCID.
  3. Consider building a study abroad proposal around one of your courses. Integrating an international experience in your courses can have a transformative impact on your teaching and the intellectual development of the students.
  4. Join your colleagues involved in global education at your college. If you have an committee or workgroup dedicated to “international” education, join it
  5. Join a global education organization. Community Colleges for International Development (CCID) is the premier international education organization in the country.  . Other organizations include NAFSA: Association of International Educators, Midwest Institute for International/Intercultural Education (MIIIE), and Association of International Education Administrators (AIEA).
  6. Attend a global education conference. The organizations listed above each sponsor annual conferences dedicated to global education. Other organizations, such as AACC, AAC&U, offer sessions on global education at their annual and regional conferences.

But no matter what you do, or don’t do, the Senior International Officer at your college, your Office of International Education, or the colleague responsible for international/intercultural education at your college will be ready to assist, inspire, inform, and applaud you.

For more information about all things international at Harper College, contact Rich Johnson ( or visit our website:



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