In one of the most popular classes on campus, undergraduates spend most of their time learning and thinking about learning. EDU 100 is the foundational class for the education minor, the largest minor at UC Davis. In it, students explore access and the experiences of learners, and many go on to careers in education and education policy.
Part of what makes EDU 100 unique is that it has a 30-hour K-12 classroom internship component, which meets internship requirements within majors. Many students come to the class for this reason, and during their internships they gain hands-on experience, learn about school and education policies, and may even teach mini lessons to the students.
In her EDU 100 section, lecturer Sophia Mattingly conducts a regular exercise with her students meant to foster sharing and storytelling about students’ educational experiences. Pairs of students within each class meet up to discuss and analyze their high schools, and insights about culture, access and barriers to success always seem to emerge.
“It’s really important for students to see that we assume everyone has the same experience,” said Mattingly. “Then we meet others, and those preconceived ideas are completely shattered. It forces us to see things in a different way and gives us a broader perspective on education and the vast array of educational experiences that students are having.”
In the fall quarter of 2021, Mattingly set out to expand this learning experience by creating an opportunity for her students to connect not only with each other, but with peers outside of the United States.
Partnering with Gabriela Mendez, international online programs specialist and part-time professor at Tecnológico de Monterrey in Mexico, Mattingly created several groups that included both EDU 100 students and Mendez’s students to discuss high school experiences in their respective countries. Each team chose an American or Mexican high school as their example school, and after remote discussion and research they presented to the full class about students’ experiences at the schools.
“It is enriching to work with people who live in a different context than we do, who have had different experiences throughout their whole educational process,” said Paola, a student at Tecnológico de Monterrey who participated in the group project.
The students discovered quickly that sharing experiences can create better outcomes in classrooms.
“It gave me a sense of hope, knowing that comparing and analyzing different systems can help me form a proper idea of what works and what doesn’t work in education,” said Ale, also a student at Tecnológico de Monterrey. “This way, we can design new experiences for our future students.”
This exchange was made possible by the Global Classroom program. In June 2020, Universitas 21 (U21) named UC Davis among the winners of its inaugural Global Education Enhancement Fund. Through this grant, which is administered by Global Affairs, UC Davis partnered with Shanghai Jiao Tong University in China and Tecnológico de Monterrey in Mexico to create a framework for teaching the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) through Global Classroom modules.