The purpose of the EVOLVE research is to find evidence of the effectiveness of Virtual Exchange (VE) on teacher, student and institutional levels. This will help the EVOLVE team to look for ways to implement VE as a regular, institutionally supported activity in University curricula. For an overall picture of what the EVOLVE research entails, please watch this video .

Research at student level

The research at student level uses the following research instruments: 

  • Quantitative and qualitative pre- and post-surveys for students participating in the VE to fill out before and after the VE
  • A reflective portfolio for participating students to complete during the VE
  • Interviews with students who took part in the VE

The research instruments have been developed by the EVOLVE research team. All instruments include a statement explaining the purpose of the data collection. Participation is on a voluntary basis for both teachers and students and personal data will be anonymized. 

This document informs participating teachers about the research instruments, data collection and data storage of the EVOLVE research at student level. Please note that participating teachers will be connected to a mentor who will guide them through the research process.


Student surveys

The EVOLVE researchers have developed pre- and post-surveys to be submitted to students before and after the VE. The protocols are based on a 5-point Likert scale. There are also open questions. The surveys consist of 2 parts:  

  • A core protocol – this is a general survey which evaluates the overall impact of VE on students.
  • Separate protocols on student learning outcomes – these surveys are meant to measure whether the VE indeed helped students to develop the following skills:
    • Disciplinary skills: please note that there is no separate protocol for this skill. Instead, it is an open question added to the core protocol)  
    • Intercultural competence
    • Critical Digital Literacy
    • Language skills

Depending on the type of VE, teachers choose on which of these 4 learning outcomes they would like to focus the research. It is also possible that the VE does not have a specific focus on any of these student learning outcomes. However, the Research team is keen on collecting all data, whether there is a focus or not.

Reflective Portfolio

The EVOLVE research team also developed a reflective portfolio which students can fill out during the VE. The portfolio is meant to gather further qualitative evidence (reflections by students) on the development of the mentioned student competences. 

The use of the portfolio is optional but we strongly recommend teachers to use them in VEs with a specific focus on one of the 4 student learning outcomes because students reflections will give much more insight into how they did or did not  develop certain skills. 

The content areas of the e-portfolio link to the 4 student competencies (intercultural competence, critical digital literacy, language skills and disciplinary skills) but students are only asked to fill out the section(s) the VE is focussing on specifically.   

The portfolio is cc licensed which means teachers may adapt it to their specific needs or interests.


After the VE, the EVOLVE research team will contact the teachers again in order to organise interviews with learners who took part in the VE. 


  1. Partnering teachers select the student competences (intercultural competence, digital literacy, language skills) most suitable to be researched in their particular VE and add this to the information gathering sheet provided to the teacher by the Research team.
  2. Well before the start of the VE, the partnering teachers will be given access to the research instruments (surveys and portfolio) by the Research team. 
  3. Before the start of the VE partnering teachers will  be asked by the EVOLVE research team to do the following: 
    • Inform their students about the survey and portfolio. For this purpose, the Research team will send the teachers a template which informs their students about the aims of EVOLVE and what students are expected to do (complete surveys and portfolio using a unique ID code which will anonymize their personal data). This unique ID will be sent to them by the Research team.
    • Distribute the pre survey and portfolio sent by the Research team amongst the students. Teachers are free to choose how they want to do this (by email, in the Virtual Learning Environment). 
  4. After the  VE partnering teachers will be asked by the Research team to share the post survey with their students.  
  5. The research team will contact the teachers in order to organise interviews with the students who took part in the VE for further qualitative data collection.. 


  • The data will be collected using the UG Qualtrics system
  • The portfolio created by the students will be uploaded through UG Qualtrics
  • User data will be anonymized at individual level
  • The data will be downloaded for research purposes on the UG Google drive and be accessible  for the EVOLVE research team and participating educators who want to be involved in the research on their own groups.
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