International education experience – study abroad programs 06 2014

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Exploration of College/University Study Abroad Programs and International Education. Research cited. Challenges. Recommendations

Exploration of College/University Study Abroad Programs and International Education. Research cited. Challenges. Recommendations

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  • In this presentation, we will examine the international education experience namely study abroad programs in colleges and universities.

    My name is Connie Phillips and I am your presenter of the materials for EDU 6050 – Education as an Advanced Field.

    We will examine international education, controversies and concerns, research and finally recommendations that can be implemented to help colleges and universities improve their programs. So, let’s get started…
  • Colleges and universities continue to work in an effort to increase student retention and success, one activity has been cited as a factor that has been successful in improving student performance. That activity is known as the study abroad programs. These programs provide students with learning experiences that last a lifetime but also connect the textbook, global relations and real life experiences.

    Study Abroad, also known as International, Multiculturalism and Global Studies are in the focus of higher education administrators, policy makers and instructors.

    As colleges and universities are becoming more diverse, the cross-cultural experience is a component of experiential and global learning objectives for student outcomes.

    Institutions are looking at students’ perspectives prior, during and after traveling and studying abroad. The information helps them to improve not only experiences but the pedagogy and established learning outcomes.
  • There have been a number of studies published that look at international study abroad programs. So, let’s review a few of these research projects that examine what type of students choose to study abroad, their preferences in locations and living accommodations, and why they choose to study abroad.
  • In our first research publication, faculty members Garver and Divine conducted a study of analysis of undergraduate students at Central Michigan University in order to determine what are the most important determining factors when students decide to participate in study abroad programs. The focus of the study was to develop a plan to increase student participation rates in the study abroad programs.

    The following questions were cited:
    • What are the most important study abroad attributes to students when deciding on a study abroad trip?
    • What time period and locations are most preferred among students?
    • What preference-based segments exist, what is their nature and how do they differ on key student attitudes and skills?

    An adaptative conjoint analysis was used to answer the aforementioned questions. A survey was developed and tested using Sawtooth Software. The survey was produced and posted online for undergraduate students. Two thousand current and potential business students of a mid-western university were invited to take the survey. Of the 2,000 students, 210 completed the questionnaire.

    The researchers determined that students preferred 8 or 16-week long experiences as opposed to two-week or year-long study abroad experiences. The students preferred to live in apartments or living communities as opposed to living in the homes of host families during their stays. Trip location, price and time frame were the most important attributes identified. The least important features when considering participating in these programs were delays in graduation, living accommodations, and curriculum.

    In further study the students were divided in four segments based on their responses, in order to make determinations on who needed to be targeted to participate and how to focus attention on the promotion of these programs to encourage students to enroll.

    The researchers recommended that each university conduct their own analysis using similar methods. Upon determining their own mission in the area of study abroad, the universities should determine which students should be targeted and proactively develop strategies to meet the needs of the students.

  • In the article Going Global: Understanding the Choice Process of the Intent to Study Abroad, researchers reviewed and analyzed data from the Wabash National Study on Liberal Arts Education. The data was collected from 4,501 students attending 19 four and two year institutions of higher education. Researchers examined the influencing factors among students considering to study abroad. The second measure to be studied was related to learning outcomes across demographics.

    The researchers argue that student-choice and college-choice theory can be extended beyond the selection of an institution and applied to all aspects of the college experience including the choice to study or not to study abroad. Perna’s integrated model of college choice was used in the study. Finally, they discuss implications to be considered by stakeholders, namely faculty, administrators and policy makers who are encouraging participation in the international education and study abroad experiences.

    Of the 4,501 freshmen students who were initially surveyed in the beginning of fall 2006, only 3,081 returned to participate in the collecting of additional data for the study. A sample size of 2,772 resulted after the elimination of datasets that were missing information.
    The use of logistics regression and application of student choice constructor and the integrated model of student choice were implemented for the study. Demographics were captured. Measures of social and cultural capital were included. High school involvement was surveyed to give insight to students’ exposure to networking, resources and values, etc. to determine if those factors may influence a student’s decisions. Finally, openness to diversity and challenges were measured.

    The findings of the study revealed that students’ social economic status (SES), pre-college experiences and post-high school exposure to different areas do affect students’ choices about studying abroad. The three stages of college choice is mirrored in the students-choice to study abroad (i.e. predisposition, search and choice). The study encourages colleges to develop more opportunities in which students can engage and take advantage of diverse activities.

    Although SES does have somewhat of an impact, finance is not always the deciding factor according to this study. Institutions need to do a better job targeting and recruiting the students in order to provide more experiential learning opportunities for more students.
    The authors sited more studies that could be explored from this initial activity.
  • The purpose of the article, Toward a Comprehensive Framework of Study Abroad Intentions and Behaviors published in the Journal Of Teaching In International Business is to identify and explain factors of students choosing to study abroad using the Theory of Planned Behavior (TPB) and trait theory as the framework. The work was tested using a survey which was administered to one-hundred twenty-five (125) business students at a regional university in Florida. This study was to add to the prognostic expectations of the model including two additional factors: extraversion and conscientiousness.

    Researchers, Goel, de Jong and Schnusenberg cite and explain the Theory of Planned Behavior and trait theory throughout the literature review. Instead of questions to be answered, the researchers have listed their own hypotheses regarding the relationship between beliefs and intentions and the relationship between personality factors and beliefs.

    Of the 125 surveyed, data was collected from 113 business students across the college. Twelve surveys were discarded and counted as unusable due to incomplete responses. Validity measures were noted. Using a variance based method, reliabilities were found to be adequate.

    The results of their findings were that behavioral beliefs are primary drivers of students participating in study abroad programs (SAP). There was no significant evidence that proved family support, academic support or costs are major factors in the students’ decisions.

    The study showed that students’ traits do play a role in their beliefs that contribute to thoughts about studying abroad and thus “different traits influence different beliefs to differing extents” (261).

    The authors did recognize the limitations of their research and the need for more study to strengthen their position. More robust scales were recommended to measure perceptions, beliefs, intentions and behaviors as it relates to students’ decisions to participate or not to participate in study abroad programs.
  • As mentioned earlier, universities are continually assessing academic courses to ensure that the learning outcomes and pedagogy are meeting the criteria and requirements established. In order for institutions to evaluate study abroad programs, some choose to purchase tools such as Global Perspectives Inventory (GPI) to survey students’ experiences. These tools may include a pre-test before students leave for their trip abroad and then a post-trip evaluation that provides valuable information to the faculty and administrators about their experiences which help to improve experiential learning for students. Both the pre and post-tests include questions about the student, their perspective on cultural difference and experience, the rights of others and self-reflection. Other institutions create and utilize their own institutional assessment tools including the use of e-portfolio assignments and student/faculty surveys.
  • As our world has become more integrated and cross-cultural in nature, the need for higher education to focus on how to strategically provide experiential activities and learning opportunities for students.
    Exposure through study abroad and study exchanges, students are given active learning experiences that can help to shape their life-long goals for their careers.
    By providing access to these program, schools can unlock the world of potential for students.
  • The recommendation for institutions to improve each university’s Study Abroad Program include the following:

    Make sure the international education program is tied to the strategic mission of the institution.
    Begin recruitment of students during their first semester and continue through academic career. Invest in strong promotion plan.
    Survey students regarding their interest and knowledge about the benefits of having an international or study abroad experience on your transcripts. Attempt to identify students early on for recruitment purposes. Don’t exclude any student.
    Target students that are under represented.
    Provide financial assistance to students in need who wish the study abroad experience. Match donors who are interested in the international education program with students who need sponsorship – work with the university foundation.
    Continual assessment of international/student abroad program and offerings is key to building and improving the program.
    Institutions should continue research on students’ behavior, choice and preferences to better understand today’s students.
    Finally, offer new pilot courses or try integrated semesters with study abroad experiences.
  • This ends my presentation. I hope you have found it to be educational and of interest. If you have questions, please forward to my email address, Thank you!


  • 1. International Education Experience – Study Abroad Programs EDU 6050: Education as an Advanced Field Prof. Gail Matthews-Denatale By Connie Phillips
  • 2. • Stakeholders • Student Outcomes • Improvement • Experience • Pedagogy • Learning Outcomes • Study Abroad Programs •Overview Photograph courtesy of Loren Phillips – Europe Study Abroad 2010
  • 3. • Do international exchanges and study abroad experience make a difference in student learning? • With changing demographics, what challenges do colleges and universities face in increasing enrollments in cross-cultural study abroad experiences? • What can colleges and universities do to improve minority enrollments in study abroad courses? •Controversy and Concerns
  • 4. Photos courtesy of Radford University Study Abroad Students
  • 5. Student Attributes Time Period and Location Preference-based segments Study Abroad Research Conjoint Analysis of Study Abroad Preferences: Key Attributes, Segments and Implications for Increasing Student Participation.
  • 6. Social Economic Status Pre-college experiences Post high school exposure Study Abroad Research Going Global: Understanding the Choice Process of the Intent to Study Abroad. More exploration is encouraged.
  • 7. • Theory of Planned Behavior • Behavioral beliefs  Choice in Participation • Trait Theory • Traits  Thoughts Choice Study Abroad Research Toward a Comprehensive Framework of Study Abroad Intentions and Behaviors
  • 9. • Integrated and Cross-Cultural World. • Active Learning Experiences • Unlocking Student Potential for Future. •Analysis What we now know…
  • 10. Recommendations to Improve Study Abroad Programs • Strategic focus. • Recruitment; • Survey incoming freshmen; • Target under represented students • Financial aid or assistance (sponsorship) • Assessment • Continue research in this area of study • New courses and integrated semester courses that cross disciplines with an international education component.
  • 11. Braskamp, L.A., & Braskamp, D. C. (Fall 2007). Fostering holistic student learning and development of college students: A strategic way to think about it. The Department Chair. 1-3. Doyle, D. (2009). Holistic Assessment and the Study Abroad Experience. Frontiers: The Interdisciplinary Journal Of Study Abroad, 18143-155. Garver, M. S., & Divine, R. L. (2007). Conjoint Analysis of Study Abroad Preferences: Key Attributes, Segments and Implications for Increasing Student Participation. Journal Of Marketing For Higher Education, 17(2), 189-215. doi:10.1080/08841240801912427 Global Perspective Institute, Inc. (2014). Global Perspective Inventory, Retrieved from Salisbury, M. H., Paulsen, M. B., & Pascarella, E. T. (2011). Why Do All the Study Abroad Students Look Alike? Applying an Integrated Student Choice Model to Explore Differences in the Factors that Influence White and Minority Students' Intent to Study Abroad. Research In Higher Education, 52(2), 123-150. Salisbury, M., Umbach, P., Paulsen, M., & Pascarella, E. (2009). Going Global: Understanding the Choice Process of the Intent to Study Abroad. Research In Higher Education, 50(2), 119-143. doi:10.1007/s11162-008-9111-x •References:
  • 12. Special Credit For use of clip-art and photographs • Global Perspectives Inventory, • Loren Phillips – former student in RU’s London Study, Abroad Program – English, London and Around England, 459713381010.244174.641306010&type=3 • PowerPoint Templates and Clip-art • Radford University – Center for Innovative Learning (CITL) e- Portfolio, • Radford University – International Education Center, • Sawtooth Survey,
  • 13. Send questions or comments to: Northeastern