Developing Collaborative Online International Learning (COIL) projects in Engineering Education

Meredith Blumthal, Brian Woodard, Molly H. Goldstein, Ernest John Ignacio, Gretchen Forman, Hannah Dougherty

Research output: Contribution to journalConference articlepeer-review


Background: With increasing awareness of the importance of undergraduate students having a global experience, institutions and educators have teamed up to provide opportunities for students to collaborate with their peers around the globe. Collaborative Online International Learning (COIL) is not new, but it has recently gained traction because of the pandemic, as a promising pedagogical method to deepen the global engagement of students without requiring travel abroad. The COIL pedagogical model connects professors and students around the world in an online learning environment to explore subjects, themes, issues, and ideas in a project-based learning experience. Although COIL has gained tremendous attention since the pandemic as a solution to the absence of student mobility, it has the potential to serve in a much larger capacity moving forward and benefit a larger student population. COIL projects present the opportunity to connect students with limited means or time to a global experience to combine their skills their skills to solve existing problems and gain cross-cultural knowledge without the need for travel. Purpose: The purpose of this study is to understand the impact of a pilot of COIL courses run in fall 2020, spring 2021, and fall 2021 at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign Grainger College of Engineering. Methodology/approach: In a pilot study run in the fall of 2020 and spring 2021, 31 students across five COIL courses completed pre- and post-surveys to understand cross-cultural competency. In the fall of 2021, six COIL courses were surveyed both before and after. Survey instruments used included an existing tool and engineering-specific learning outcomes. For the cultural competency measures, we used a scale where students were asked to rate their level of agreement with a set of 12 statements. Additionally, we measured the following learning outcomes with a post-course survey based on a set of 20 questions; Intellectual Reasoning and Knowledge (IRK), Creative Inquiry and Discovery (CID), Effective Leadership and Community Engagement (ELCE), Social Awareness and Cultural Understanding (SACU), and Global Consciousness (GC). We ran statistical analyses to understand the gains in student cultural competencies. Findings: Early results indicate statistically significant improvements toward University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign campus-level learning outcomes, specifically students improved ability to think logically and critically, improving their ability to consider a variety of perspectives, Social Awareness and Cultural Understanding and, Global Consciousness. There are variations between the individual courses as not all have equal improvements in all areas.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalASEE Annual Conference and Exposition, Conference Proceedings
StatePublished - Aug 23 2022
Event129th ASEE Annual Conference and Exposition: Excellence Through Diversity, ASEE 2022 - Minneapolis, United States
Duration: Jun 26 2022Jun 29 2022

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Engineering(all)


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