COIL Inspires Grant-Funded Research

COIL promotes powerful ripple effects--faculty and student activities that extend beyond the COIL itself. One common ripple effect is research, particularly Scholarship of Teaching of Learning (SoTL). SoTL involves faculty, sometimes in partnership with their students, undertaking systematic inquiry into students' learning. SoTL studies are informed by prior scholarship on teaching and learning, and results are shared publicly to encourage continuous improvement.

After years of facilitating COIL exchanges, FIU professors Drs. Maria Ines Marino and Stephanie Delgado wrote a grant proposal for a SoTL study. They explored a virtual exchange phenomenon that fascinated them: COIL's impact on underrepresented minoritized groups. With funding from the Stevens Initiative and logistical support from FIU COIL, Marino and Delgado researched the experiences of US-based Hispanic students who participated in COIL virtual exchange with students in Latin America. 

What They Found

  • Cultural identity: US-based Hispanic students experienced renewed connections to their heritage culture. Exchanges created a sense of belonging, proximity, and social presence and promoted cultural empathy.
  • Language: COIL reinforced students' confidence using their home language.
  • Cultural empathy: COIL increased student reflection on their own biases and ethnocentrism. They developed a more complex understanding of cultural similarities and differences.
  • Professional preparation: Students perceived the COIL as developing their skills as future global job seekers: cultural sensitivity, digital collaboration, and bilingual communication.

Moving COIL Forward

Drs. Marino and Delgado conclude that students of underrepresented groups benefit from virtual exchange collaboration with peers and/or cultural groups that offer cultural commonalities. To maximize benefits, Marino and Delgado recommend that faculty:

  • Encourage the use of a wide range of free and accessible technologies for communication and collaboration
  • Assign discussion topics and activities that give partners opportunities to research and critically assess how their identities are represented in higher education
  • Incorporate projects focusing on social justice and marginalized groups
  • Include readings and literature of underrepresented authors
  • Frame the purpose and value of the COIL for students prior to the exchange
  • Spend time on icebreakers and socialization activities within and outside scheduled class times
  • Provide personal reflection opportunities 
  • Give certificates of completion that can be incorporated into resumes


Dr. Maria Marino (top) and Dr. Stephanie Delgado (bottom)