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REL Midwest Ask A REL Response

June 2019


What research is available on global competence in grades K–12?


Following an established Regional Educational Laboratory (REL) Midwest protocol, we conducted a search for research reports and descriptive studies on global competence. In particular, we focused on identifying resources related to global competence and student outcomes such as social emotional learning, agency, empowerment, awareness of global issues and participation in project based learning. For details on the databases and sources, keywords, and selection criteria used to create this response, please see the Methods section at the end of this memo.

Below, we share a sampling of the publicly accessible resources on this topic. References are listed in alphabetical order, not necessarily in order of relevance. The search conducted is not comprehensive; other relevant references and resources may exist. For each reference, we provide an abstract, excerpt, or summary written by the study’s author or publisher. We have not evaluated the quality of these references, but provide them for your information only.

Research References

Afterschool Alliance. (2010). Afterschool and global competence: Expanding and enhancing learning opportunities (Issue Brief No. 41). Washington, DC: Author. Retrieved from

From the ERIC abstract: “The 21st century is a global one, and the U.S. must prepare the next generation to be knowledgeable about world regions and global issues and to communicate across cultures and languages. In order to become successful in a global age, all students from all backgrounds will need an array of educational opportunities—both during the school day and beyond—to become globally literate. This issue brief discusses the importance of global competence and describes some of the ways afterschool programs successfully facilitate global learning.”

Boix Mansilla, V. (2016). How to be a global thinker. Educational Leadership, 74(4), 10–16. Retrieved from

From the ERIC abstract: “Global competence requires more than knowledge and skills; it also requires that students know when the situation calls for using these abilities and an ongoing, long-term inclination to do so. Boix Mansilla describes a number of global competence thinking routines, developed by her research team at the Harvard Graduate School of Education, which can promote students’ disposition to inquire about the world, to understand different perspectives, to engage in respectful dialogue, and to take responsible action. By weaving these routines into the curriculum, teachers can make them part of the fabric of the classroom so that they build long-term dispositions in students. The goal is for global understanding to become a permanent part of students’ worldview that helps shape their understanding of themselves.”

Boix Mansilla, V. (2017). Global thinking: An Id-Global bundle to foster global thinking dispositions through global thinking routines. Cambridge, MA: Project Zero at Harvard Graduate School of Education. Retrieved from

From the abstract:Global Thinking offers thinking routines that foster understanding and appreciation of today’s complex globalized world. The materials and tools include a framework to think about global competence and offer clarity about various capacities associated with global competence. The bundle describes how to plan and document your experiences bringing global thinking routines into your classroom and to share these experiences with others.”

Boix Mansilla, V., & Jackson, A. (2011). Educating for global competence: Preparing our youth to engage the world. New York, NY: Asia Society. Retrieved from

From the introduction:Educating for Global Competence: Preparing Our Youth to Engage the World is intended for classroom teachers, administrators, informal educators, policymakers, community leaders, researchers, parents, students, and all other stakeholders interested in preparing our youth for the 21st century. Becoming better at educating for global competence involves rethinking practices and recognizing that there are no simple recipes for success. As such, this book is meant to be used flexibly—browse, make connections, and concentrate on the chapters that you find most pertinent to your work. Experiment with ideas, challenge concepts, and share with colleagues. Ultimately this book must work for you. It is meant to be read in the way that best meets your needs, inspires your curiosity, and proves fruitful in the classroom.”

Colvin, R. L., & Edwards, V. (2018). Teaching for global competence in a rapidly changing world. Paris, France: OECD Publishing. Retrieved from

From the ERIC abstract: “This new publication sets forward the PISA framework for global competence developed by the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), which aligns closely with the definition developed by the Center for Global Education at Asia Society. Based on the Center’s extensive experience supporting educators in integrating global competence into their teaching, the publication also provides practical guidance and examples of how educators can embed global competence into their existing curriculum, instruction, and assessment.”

Jackson, A. (2016). The antidote to extremism. Educational Leadership, 74(4), 18–23. Retrieved from

From the ERIC abstract: “For centuries, education has been seen as an antidote to intolerance and conflict. In a world rocked by violence, much of it across cultural borders, developing students’ cultural understanding has become more important than ever. In this article, Asia Society vice president Anthony Jackson discusses how two high schools in the Society’s International Studies Schools Network are meeting this challenge by developing students’ global competence, defined as the ability to investigate the world, recognize and weigh perspectives, communicate ideas, and take action.”

Piacentini, M. (2017). Developing an international assessment of global competence. Childhood Education, 93(6), 507–510. Retrieved from

From the ERIC abstract: “In 2014, an international, interdisciplinary group of experts came together under the auspices of the PISA Governing Board to consider a novel question: can an international assessment evaluate, the global competence of 15-year-old students? The experts recognized the need for data to understand how well students are prepared for life in multicultural societies, identify what works in global education and accelerate progress toward the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals. Collaborating with the 79 countries participating in PISA, the group began to develop an assessment of global competence to be administered as part of the 2018 round of PISA. Assessing global competence in all its complexity requires a multi-method, multi-perspective strategy. The assessment strategy of global competence in PISA 2018 has two components: (1) a cognitive test; and (2) a set of questionnaires completed by students, principals, teachers, and parents. The PISA assessment of global competence will offer the first comprehensive overview of education systems’ success in equipping young people to address global developments and collaborate productively across cultural differences in their everyday lives. The data will provide insights on which policy approaches to global education are most commonly used in school systems around the world, and on how teachers are being prepared to promote global competence. Education systems will thus learn from each other how to best adapt curricula, promote innovative teaching methods, and adjust teachers’ training so as to facilitate the development of global competence. The results of the assessment can also stimulate innovation at the level of individual schools, as schools seek effective approaches to raise their students’ global competence.”

Note: REL Midwest was unable to locate a link to the full-text version of this resource. Although REL Midwest tries to provide publicly available resources whenever possible, it was determined that this resource may be of interest to you. It may be found through university or public library systems.

Sälzer, C., & Roczen, N. (2018). Assessing global competence in PISA 2018: Challenges and approaches to capturing a complex construct. International Journal of Development Education and Global Learning, 10(1), 5–20. Retrieved from

From the ERIC abstract: “International large-scale assessments such as the Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) yield comparative indicators of student achievement in various competence domains. This article focuses on global competence as a suggested cross-curricular domain for the PISA 2018 study. The measurement of global competence is related to a number of challenges, which are elaborated, described and discussed. As these challenges have so far not been sufficiently targeted, Germany, among several other countries, has decided not to assess global competence in the upcoming PISA cycle. In conclusion, propositions are made regarding viable options to capture global competence in international comparative studies so that established quality standards can be met.”

Tichnor-Wagner, A., Parkhouse, H., Glazier, J., & Cain, J. M. (2016). Expanding approaches to teaching for diversity and social justice in K-12 education: Fostering global citizenship across the content areas. Education Policy Analysis Archives, 24(59). Retrieved from

From the ERIC abstract: “Educators today must be able to respond to the needs of an increasingly diverse student body and to teach all students the knowledge, skills, and attitudes needed for civic participation in a globalized, pluralist society. While state departments of education and national teacher organizations have begun to adopt global awareness in their teaching standards and evaluation tools, educators need to understand what globally competent teachers actually do in classrooms across subject areas and grade levels. This qualitative, multiple case study explores the signature pedagogies (Shulman, 2005) of 10 in-service teachers in one southeastern state who teach for global competence in math, music, science, English, social studies, and language classes across elementary, middle, and high schools. We found three signature pedagogies that characterized globally competent teaching practices across participants: 1) intentional integration of global topics and multiple perspectives into and across the standard curriculum; 2) ongoing authentic engagement with global issues; and 3) connecting teachers’ global experiences, students’ global experiences, and the curriculum. These signature pedagogies provide visions of possibility for concrete practices teachers can adapt to infuse global citizenship education into their own contexts and for policies that school districts and teacher education programs can consider in preparing and supporting teachers in this work.”

Additional Organizations to Consult

Center for Global Education –

From the website: “For over a decade, the Center for Global Education at Asia Society has been a leader in global competence education. With initial investments from the Gates Foundation and Carnegie Corporation, and in partnership with Harvard University and Stanford University, among others, the Center for Global Education has developed the preeminent educator training program on educating for global competence.”

Interdisciplinary & Global Studies at Project Zero –

From the website: “Interdisciplinary and Global Studies (Id-Global) is an ensemble of research projects designed to inform scholars and educators interested in preparing youth to understand pressing global issues of our times through interdisciplinary work and to participate in these issues as responsible global citizens. The Id-Global Project seeks to:

  • 1) Understand and foster quality interdisciplinary research and education among scholars, teachers and youth,
  • 2) Understand and nurture the development of global competence among leaders, teachers and youth, and
  • 3) Create fertile environments for dialog about the purpose of education in the twenty first century and the responsibilities of professionals in our field.”


Keywords and Search Strings

The following keywords and search strings were used to search the reference databases and other sources:

  • Global competence

  • Global Competence Task Force

Databases and Search Engines

We searched ERIC for relevant resources. ERIC is a free online library of more than 1.6 million citations of education research sponsored by the Institute of Education Sciences (IES). Additionally, we searched IES and Google Scholar.

Reference Search and Selection Criteria

When we were searching and reviewing resources, we considered the following criteria:

  • Date of the publication: References and resources published over the last 15 years, from 2004 to present, were included in the search and review.

  • Search priorities of reference sources: Search priority is given to study reports, briefs, and other documents that are published or reviewed by IES and other federal or federally funded organizations.

  • Methodology: We used the following methodological priorities/considerations in the review and selection of the references: (a) study types—randomized control trials, quasi-experiments, surveys, descriptive data analyses, literature reviews, policy briefs, and so forth, generally in this order, (b) target population, samples (e.g., representativeness of the target population, sample size, volunteered or randomly selected), study duration, and so forth, and (c) limitations, generalizability of the findings and conclusions, and so forth.
This memorandum is one in a series of quick-turnaround responses to specific questions posed by educational stakeholders in the Midwest Region (Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota, Ohio, Wisconsin), which is served by the Regional Educational Laboratory (REL Midwest) at American Institutes for Research. This memorandum was prepared by REL Midwest under a contract with the U.S. Department of Education’s Institute of Education Sciences (IES), Contract ED-IES-17-C-0007, administered by American Institutes for Research. Its content does not necessarily reflect the views or policies of IES or the U.S. Department of Education nor does mention of trade names, commercial products, or organizations imply endorsement by the U.S. Government.