Developing Global Competency Virtually: Student Experiences in a Global Program That Transitioned Online due to the COVID-19 Pandemic


  • Tawni Paradise Virginia Tech
  • Tahsin Chowdhury Virginia Tech
  • Kirsten Davis Purdue University
  • Homero Murzi Virginia Tech
  • Michelle Soledad Virginia Tech



international programs, undergraduate, online


This paper discusses a global program for first-year engineering students that typically combines a spring semester course with an international module in the summer. This year, due to the COVID-19 global pandemic, the course component of the program was redesigned for the post-COVID environment. The purpose of this paper is to present the decisions made during this process and explore their outcomes through analysis of students’ feedback and global competence survey results. Four major decisions shaped the program redesign by balancing the desire for students to develop global competence with the acknowledgement that student motivation and energy would be impacted by the lack of travel and COVID-19. Data from students’ responses on assignments, survey administration and teaching evaluations were analyzed to understand student experiences after the program redesign. Results from our analysis show students were able to develop global competence without international travel. Implications from the results and next steps are discussed in this paper.


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Author Biographies

Tawni Paradise, Virginia Tech

Tawni Paradise is an adjunct associate professor in Computer Science at the University of San Diego. She holds a Ph.D. in Engineering Education, a M.Ed. in Integrative STEM Education, and a B.S./B.A. in Industrial & Systems Engineering. Her research interests focus on broadening participation in engineering, understanding parent-child engagement in STEM learning at home, recognizing effective pedagogical strategies in engineering activities and evaluating the impacts and effectiveness of engineering outreach experiences.

Tahsin Chowdhury, Virginia Tech

Tahsin Chowdhury is a Ph.D. candidate in Engineering Education at Virginia Tech. Tahsin holds a bachelor's degree in Electrical and Electronics Engineering, a masters degree in Industrial and Systems Engineering, and he has worked as a manufacturing professional at a Fortune 500 company. As a researcher, he is interested in enhancing professional competencies for engineering workforce development in academia and beyond. He is actively engaged in projects focusing on teamwork and leadership in engineering.

Kirsten Davis, Purdue University

Kirsten Davis is an assistant professor in the School of Engineering Education at Purdue University. Her research explores the intentional design and assessment of global engineering programs, student development through experiential learning, and approaches for teaching and assessing systems thinking skills. Kirsten holds a B.S. in Engineering & Management from Clarkson University and an M.A.Ed. in Higher Education, M.S. in Systems Engineering, and Ph.D. in Engineering Education, all from Virginia Tech. 

Homero Murzi, Virginia Tech

Homero Murzi is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Engineering Education at Virginia Tech. He holds degrees in Industrial Engineering (BS, MS), Master of Business Administration (MBA) and in Engineering Education (PhD). Homero has 15 years of international experience working in industry and academia. His research focuses on contemporary and inclusive pedagogical practices, industry-driven competency development in engineering, and understanding the barriers that Latinx and Native Americans have in engineering.

Michelle Soledad, Virginia Tech

Michelle Soledad, Ph.D., is a Collegiate Assistant Professor in the Department of Engineering Education at Virginia Tech. Her research and service interests include teaching and learning experiences in fundamental engineering courses, faculty development and support initiatives, and leveraging institutional data to support reflective teaching practices. She has degrees in Electrical Engineering (B.S., M.Eng.) from the Ateneo de Davao University in Davao City, Philippines, and a Ph.D. in Engineering Education from Virginia Tech.


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How to Cite

Paradise, T., Chowdhury, T., Davis, K., Murzi, H., & Soledad, M. . (2022). Developing Global Competency Virtually: Student Experiences in a Global Program That Transitioned Online due to the COVID-19 Pandemic. Frontiers: The Interdisciplinary Journal of Study Abroad, 34(2), 56–80.



Research Articles