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New research project examines internationalization at William & Mary

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    Studying internationalization at W&M:   The research team meets via Zoom. Clockwise from top left: Jim Barber, associate professor; Jingjing Liu Ph.D. '22; Danielle Giscombe Ph.D. '22; Rachel Smith '10, Ph.D. '24; Pamela Eddy, professor; and David Harger '11, Ph.D. '24.  Courtesy photo
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Faculty from the School of Education Higher Education Program have launched a research project to help advance understanding of the engagement of William & Mary faculty in internationalization efforts both on campus and abroad. Pamela Eddy, professor of higher education, leads the project. The research team includes James Barber, associate professor and senior associate dean, and higher education students David Harger ’11, Ph.D. ’24, Rachel Smith ’10, Ph.D. ’24 , Danielle Giscombe Ph.D. ’22, and Jingjing Liu Ph.D. ’22.

According to Eddy, principal investigator of the project, “This research project provides an opportunity to study continuous changes of the internationalization efforts at William & Mary.” She added, “We are looking forward to investigating how faculty and students’ experiences have changed with the expansion of international initiatives at the university. As well, the COVID-19 pandemic caused huge disruptions, and it remains unknown how the crisis will influence internationalization efforts.” Furthermore, research findings will be shared with the leadership of the Reves Center for International Studies to help inform their work.

The research project is part of a longitudinal study that began in 2010. Using a mixed-methods design, the project investigates faculty perception of internationalization and student experiences with global studies. The longitudinal focus of this research provides a holistic context of internationalization efforts at the university.

In 2010-2011, researchers surveyed the faculty at the William & Mary and conducted five faculty focus groups, including 30 faculty members from a wide range of experiences, disciplinary foci, and demographic characteristics. Additionally, the researchers held three focus groups involving a total of 20 undergraduate students who participated in study-abroad programs between 2007 and 2010. The data showed that William & Mary had achieved progress toward internationalization. However, the university still faced challenges in integrating international and global work into the teaching, learning, and research on campus. Based on findings, in 2013, the researchers published an article in Change: The Magazine of Higher Learning entitled “Internationalizing a Campus: From Colonial to Modern Times.”

Replication of data collection occurred in 2015 and found that attention to internationalization efforts were becoming more accepted and that the creation of a common undergraduate course on global issues helped support more broad-based support of internationalization efforts. William & Mary was recognized in 2020 as having the highest percentage of undergraduates participating in study-abroad programs in the United States, making this the ninth time in the last 12 years that the university received this distinction. 

Similar to the first two studies, the 2020 follow-up study includes a survey sent to faculty at William & Mary and faculty focus groups planned for spring 2021. In addition, this iteration of the study includes the development of a student survey instrument. Student focus groups will also occur as they did in the past two studies.

The doctoral students in the Higher Education Program involved in this project gain hands-on research experiences. “Working on this project has been a wonderful opportunity to not only put to use the skills that I'm learning in the Ph.D. program,” said David Harger. “But it has also allowed me to have a better grasp of how internationalization plays out on campus.”

Rachel Smith shared, “It is rewarding to develop my research skills in a group setting, learn each member’s perspective of the project, and combine our efforts to achieve a final product.”

Danielle Giscombe reflected, “It is deeply meaningful to me to participate, collaborate, and support the Internationalization Research Group at William & Mary, a collective experience that will be interwoven into all aspects of my life, providing a legacy for future researchers and for student’s lifelong education.”