The effects of participation in the global education project on children's attitudes toward foreign people

Date of Completion

January 1988


Education, Elementary|Political Science, International Law and Relations|Sociology, Ethnic and Racial Studies




This study described and assessed an alternative approach to social studies; the community based global education project, and its effects on American student's attitudes toward foreign people. The students in three West Hartford grade four, five or six classrooms were engaged in a four month study about themselves, their community and the interdependent structure of the world. Each of the West Hartford classrooms was twinned with a classroom in Canada (Inuit), England or Spain, and an ongoing exchange of letters, projects, and reports took place.^ The study examined whether this type of contact results in a clearer and more sensitive understanding by American students of their community, and its similarities and interdependence with another community in the world. Also, whether this more sensitive or empathetic understanding is transferred to other foreign people not involved in the study. This study also determined whether the skills of mutual goal setting and cooperative learning were more fully developed as a result of participation in the twinning study.^ The assessment data were obtained from open-end sentence completions and picture drawing, in-depth interviews, and a short essay by the students. Pretesting and orientation to the project was done by this researcher in the West Hartford Public Schools, and the foreign schools. Posttesting using the same format was accomplished in the American schools and, with some alterations, in the foreign schools, as well. However, the foreign data were not used in this study, but were helpful in establishing a perspective on the assessment of the American data. Three comparison classes comparable to the West Hartford experimental classes provided pretest and posttest data.^ The American students in the pretesting displayed little knowledge of the foreign people involved in the study. The results of the posttesting were not consistent for the three experimental classes, however each experimental class increased in empathetic attitude toward the foreign twin. The variables appeared to be: background and philosophical approach of the teacher, quality of the exchange materials and the frequency of the exchanges. It appeared that the transference of attitudes relating to one foreign group cannot be assumed to apply to another. (Abstract shortened with permission of author.) ^