New research explores international-mindedness

A new study conducted by the Department of Education at the University of Bath shows that IB programmes offer many rich opportunities for students to develop international-mindedness.

Researchers from the university conducted an in-depth, multi-programme study among students in 11 IB World Schools around the world, in order to investigate how IB programmes conceptualize, develop, assess and evaluate international-mindedness. The selection of participating schools reflected a range of educational stages, from primary to secondary school. In addition to the IB curricula being used in schools, the research also highlighted that school leadership plays an important role in schools proactively fostering international-mindedness. Multilingualism, integrated into policy and practice to encourage global perspectives, also emerged as one of the key drivers behind schools’ success in nurturing internationally-minded young people.

David Hawley, Chief Academic Officer at IB, said: “International-mindedness has always been the bedrock of an IB education and, while the IB community has understood its importance, it has been at times a challenging concept to define, develop and assess, and to communicate to others. The international-mindedness that permeates our programmes constitutes more than simply learning a second language, although this is key; global perspectives run throughout the IB curriculum, in all subject areas, and throughout all of our programmes. This is so that our students embrace their own cultures and are open and responsive to other cultures and views. We are absolutely delighted that this research has provided evidence for that which we have long known – that the IB develops internationally-minded young people through the quality of its curriculum provision.”

While the research shows that definitions of international-mindedness vary from school to school, all the definitions used centre around the idea that being internationally-minded means: ‘reaching out,’ in how we interact with others; and ‘reaching in’ to understand ourselves in relation to others. In all of the participating schools, students, teachers, and leaders placed considerable value on international-mindedness.

The study’s findings are released at a time when international-mindedness and other ‘life skills’ – such as the ability to think critically – dominate the headlines.

“Last month PISA (Program for International Student Assessment) revealed that, as of next year, its tests will measure students’ analytical and critical thinking skills across different countries, as well as their intercultural understanding and awareness of global issues. The discussion about what makes an effective education has been debated for decades, but few would dispute the need to invest in developing internationally-minded young people who are prepared for the challenges of the 21st century and who can contribute to a better, more peaceful world,” said Hawley.

Read the study