Enhancing student communication competencies in STEM using virtual global collaboration project based learning

A. D. Owens, R. L. Hite

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


Background: To prepare K-12 students for the globalizing Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) workplace, teachers must utilize pedagogies to improve students’ 21st century skills, specifically in communication. Project Based Learning (PBL) has evidenced success in enhancing students’ communication skills, while global collaboration through virtual interactions (herein global PBL) provides unique opportunities for students to practice communication in STEM by leveraging videoconferencing and Learning Management System technologies, bridging classrooms internationally. Yet, the extent of synergistic effects of global PBL on developing students’ STEM communication skills is unknown. Purpose: This study investigated if a global PBL was an effective pedagogy for enhancing and developing communication skills needed for communication and global competence in the STEM workplace, from the perceptions of both US teachers and students. Sample: A mixed method study investigated the impact of global PBL in two fifth grade STEM-focused classrooms; to explore, from the perception of teachers and students, changes in students’ communication competencies. Design and methods: The intervention consisted of a 3-week PBL focused on air pollution in the water cycle, where two American treatment classrooms participated in global PBL with French and Chinese students in English language classrooms through Canvas. A third American classroom (using the same PBL, but without any virtual collaboration elements) served as a control. Data sources included teacher and researcher classroom observations, a pre and post student survey, and teacher interviews. Results: Results of teacher perception data and researcher observation suggested the global PBL developed students’ abilities to share and understand ideas, use multiple representations to present those ideas, and be more receptive to perspectives different than their own. Conclusion: This research suggests global PBL is a meaningful strategy for K-12 teachers to develop students’ communication competencies in STEM.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-27
Number of pages27
JournalResearch in Science and Technological Education
StatePublished - 2020


  • Communication skills
  • global PBL
  • middle grades
  • project based learning
  • science education


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