Kent State University Study Abroad Program

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  • 1. STUDENTS’ EXPERIENCESSTUDYING ABROADCreated by students of Dr. Coombs’ Qualitative Research Class 2011
  • 2. TABLE OF CONTENTS① OBJECTIVES② METHODOLOGY③ STUDENT MINDSETS④ FINDINGS⑤ RECOMMENDATIONS
  • 3. OBJECTIVESOUR OVERALL RESEARCH OBJECTIVE WAS TO UNDERSTAND THE MOTIVATIONS OF, BARRIERS TO,AND EXPERIENCES WITH KENT STATE-AFFILIATED STUDY ABROAD PROGRAMS FOR STUDENTSFROM FOUR POPULATIONS:  Those who have completed a study abroad program  Those who plan to study abroad via Kent State-affiliated programs  Those who want to study abroad, but won’t  Those not interested in studying abroad
  • 4. RESEARCH QUESTIONSMORE SPECIFICALLY, WE SOUGHT TO UNDERSTAND AND FURTHER EXPLORE:  What are the perceived benefits of studying abroad?  What motivations exist to explore study abroad opportunities? To move through the purchase funnel?  What barriers exist that might deter students from studying abroad?  What perceptions exist about the study abroad experience, including lifestyle, travel, cost, and academic and social experiences?  How can study abroad programs be ideally communicated to potential students in increase participation?  For those who have completed programs, how did these perceptions compare with the experience?
  • 5. METHODOLOGY{Interviews :: N=16}8 Students who plan to study abroad 8 Students who want to study abroad, but won’t  Recruited from lists  Recruited from a list provided by Deborah provided by Deborah Davis Davis and Dr.  Students had attended Whitmore meetings but have not yet followed through{Ethnographies:: N=8}8 Students who have completed study abroad  Recruited from a list provided by Deborah Davis STUDY ABROAD PROGRAMS COMPLETED BY ETHNOGRAPHY PARTICIPANTS: 2 Students  Leicester 1 Student  Florence/China 3 Students  Florence 2 Students  China
  • 6. METHODOLOGY{Focus Groups:: N=16}4 Groups of students who were interviewed  Recruited from Principles of Advertising POPULATIONS REPRESENTED IN THESE GROUPS:  Students not interested in studying abroad  Students who want to study abroad, but won’t6 PROJECTIVE TECHNIQUES WERE EMPLOYED  Card Sorting – students created categories of favored destination  Word Association – “travel” vs. “study abroad”  Budget – students estimated costs of semester and two-week programs  Expressive – students described countries in terms of house parties  Personification – students described the “typical study abroad student”  Construction – students made collages about “the study abroad experience”
  • 7. AXES {EXTROVERT}{DEPENDENT} {INDEPENDENT} {INTROVERT}
  • 8. AXIS 1: DEGREE OF AUTONOMY {DEPENDENT} {INDEPENDENT} Consults others when making decisions  Comfortable making own decisions Easily deterred when faced with obstacles  Embraces responsibility Desires structure, but is not very proactive  Adept at problem solving in obtaining information
  • 9. AXIS 2: SOCIAL INTERACTION {EXTROVERT}  Outgoing and comfortable in most social situations  Has a wide array of acquaintances from various backgrounds  Inclined to engage with community/peers  Social goal of participation {INTROVERT}  Social goal is observation  Tends to interact with a limited community of close-knit individuals
  • 10. STUDENT MINDSETS EXTROVERT THE THE YES-MAN TRAILBLAZER DEPENDENT INDEPENDENTTHE THEHOMEBODY EXPLORER INTROVERT
  • 11. THE TRAILBLAZER Takes advantage of professional,social or academic opportunities A natural leader who likesadventure and new experiences Enthusiastic about studyingabroad to meet new people and tobroaden their horizons
  • 12. THE EXPLORER Quiet and tends to doodle inclass Creative, critical, deep thinkerwho is seeking personal growth andself-actualization Well-organized, goal-orientedand serious about education Would be inclined to studyabroad, especially if relevant tohis/her goals
  • 13. THE YES-MAN Content with mediocrity and tendsto only do the minimal amountnecessary A people-pleaser who has difficultysaying no and seeks approval frompeers Unsure of him/herself, oftensecond-guessing decisions Shows interest in studying abroad,but needs regular encouragement
  • 14. THE HOMEBODY Set in his/her ways and feelsunsettled when out of comfort zone Quiet, doesn’t go out very much Tends to let others makedecisions for him/her Not interested in studyingabroad because of their discomfortwith the unknown
  • 15. Students’ general perceptions of study abroad:THE TYPICAL STUDY ABROADSTUDENT  COMMUNICATION, FASHION, BUSINESS, OR ART MAJOR  ATTENDS KSU SPORTING EVENTS  CARES ABOUT GRADES; MOTIVATED AND WELL- EDUCATED  STUDIES CULTURE AND LANGUAGE  HANGS OUT IN COFFEE SHOPS OR LIBRARY  FRIENDLY, OUTGOING, AND LIKES TO MEET NEW PEOPLE  HAS A CAMERA AND IPOD  WOULD STUDY IN ITALY
  • 16. Students’ general perceptions of study abroad:COSTView differently, depending on extent ofstudents’ knowledge of programs  Informed consider cost reasonable  Uninformed immediately associate studying abroad with “expensive”Measure cost in terms of the value of theprogram  How long is the program?  What will I gain personally/professionally from this experience? “ It was worth every single penny…It would have been worth paying that money off for the rest of my life to have that experience. Hands down, no doubt about it. — Florence participant
  • 17. Students’ general perceptions of study abroad:LIFESTYLE & SOCIAL SEE THE STUDY ABROAD LIFESTYLE AS EXCITING AND FULL OF EXPERIENCES ASSOCIATE EXPERIENCE WITH SENSE OF FREEDOM “ CONCERNED ABOUT USING IMPROPER ETIQUETTE SEE OPPORTUNITY FOR BUILDING NEW RELATIONSHIPS  Serve as ambassadors of Kent State  Interact with locals and KSU peers Overseas we are representing Kent State University. Were carrying a brand that stands for ourselves. We want to change people’s lives when we go overseas. You could teach a child who loves music how“I am worried that I will do something inappropriate that people over there don’t like.I wish we had a couple of classes about cultural manners.” to read and then they would say, wow Im glad they came.’ — Focus group participant — Potential Study abroad student
  • 18. Students’ general perceptions of study abroad:TRAVEL Anticipate experiencing “newness”  Many sight seeing opportunities  New and unusual cuisine View personal spending as expensive Travel frequently on weekends; apartment/dorm becomes “home” Apprehensive of the unknown  Planning for the trip/time away is daunting  Unforeseen complications  Missing travel connections  Getting lost “ I was terrified by the professors before I went to China. They told us that we should avoid asking questions about the government… [but] Nobody put me in jail.” — Florence participant
  • 19. Students’ general perceptions of study abroad:ACADEMIC CURRENT COURSES OFFERED THROUGH STUDY ABROAD “ PROGRAM ARE NOT RELEVANT TO CCI MAJORS STUDYING ABROAD WILL INTERFERE WITH PROJECTED GRADUATION DATE TWO DIFFERENT VIEWS ON WORK LOAD  Light load, fairly easy requirements I want to be able to experience a different type of educational type of  Intense coursework, exacerbated by language barrier process. I think that its so different from what we know in America. — Potential study abroad student“I think a lot of people are worried they will fall behind in school. ’’ ’’ — Focus group participant
  • 20. THE PURCHASE FUNNEL PERCEPTION INFORMATION SEARCH ASSESSING VALUE PURCHASE DECISION
  • 21. Perception:INITIAL INTERESTMOTIVATIONS Barriers FRIENDS REFLECT Negative peer/friend FAVORABLY ON experiences EXPERIENCES  Exceeded budget  Share pictures  Social isolation  Peers talk about traveling  Travel complications together Absence of sufficient PROMOTION IS SEEN promotion  Poster/email  Poorly placed/designed  Not utilizing relevant ANNOUNCEMENT MADE IN communication platforms (social media, CLASS etc.)“ Dismiss as unattainableA couple of my friends who had been abroad told me how much they “fairy tale”learned, and I thought ‘there is something I am missing, and I shouldsee it too.’— Florence participant
  • 22. Information search:GATHERING RESEARCHMotivations BarriersAccess to information Complications with  Make appts. with advisor information  Confusion as to where it is  Advisors’ thorough  Don’t know who to talk to knowledge Peer/parental disapprovalSeeking approval  Concerns about:  Parents  Distance  Friends  Reduced  Significant others communication  Safety  CostPhotos, stories, and newsfrom destinations of interest Overwhelmed by information  Lack of organization  Insufficient time to process
  • 23. WEIGHING OPTIONS:ASSESSING VALUEMOTIVATIONS Barriers ORGANIZATION OF KSU Taking the solo route STUDY ABROAD PROGRAM  Travel for personal reasons  More structured than going  Perceived as less expensive alone  Less structured  Group setting  Class-oriented Current programs not relevant for student’s major ADVISORS FACILITATE PROCESS Undesirable program  Frequent communication location with students  Help with planning & paperwork “ We didn’t have to do it on our own. [The advisors] kept track of our paperwork. They really made it easy for us to do. — Leicester participant
  • 24. PURCHASE DECISIONAPPLICATION PROCESSMOTIVATIONS Barriers FINANCIAL ASSISTANCE Pre-buyer’s remorse / cold  Scholarship approval feet  Family help  Loans Family emergency PERCEIVED BENEFITS Decline in academic OUTWEIGH OBSTACLES performance/motivation PIQUED EXCITEMENT
  • 25. Study abroad:BENEFITS Consider experience to be life changing, “once in a lifetime” Gain a strong sense of independence Explore and grow as an individual Travel frequently to surrounding areas Mature as a future professional  Build resume  Gain perspective, become more well-rounded “ If you’re not on an adventure then what’s the point in going? — Focus group Participant
  • 26. Study abroad: “ My biggest fear is about language. I am afraid that they will speak so fast I will not be able toBARRIERS understand.” — Florence participant CONVINCED THE PROGRAM IS TOO EXPENSIVE ’’ UNABLE TO ACCESS IMPORTANT INFORMATION FEARFUL OF FEELING ISOLATED IN UNKNOWN ENVIRONMENT APPREHENSIVE ABOUT SAFETY CONCERNED ABOUT TIMELY GRADUATION WORRIED ABOUT BEING HOMESICK“I WOULD DEFINITELY HAVE CONCERNS ABOUT MYSAFETY BECAUSE IVE NEVER BEEN THERE. I DONTKNOW THE CULTURE, OR LANGUAGE, I DONT KNOWHOW TO GET AROUND. - INTERVIEWEE
  • 27. Existing program:COMMUNICATION Confusing and hard to find Inconsistent or outdated information Nearly inaccessible website Not enough information available  Program “fine print”  Cost  Where to find information Limited communication:  Email blasts  Occasional class visits  Flyers “ I don’t know how [the website] works…how to access information. — Focus group participant ’’
  • 28. PROGRAMS OFFER COURSEWORK MORE RELEVANT TO A VARIETY OF CCI MAJORS INVESTIGATE NEW PROGRAMS LOCATIONS  Australia “ Everyone in Australia is laid back and friendly.  Ireland I’d feel right at  Greece home. OFFER MORE 2-WEEK PROGRAMS, SIMILAR TO THE CHINA — Focus group ’’ TRIP participant
  • 29. COMMUNICATION ESTABLISH PROMINENT LOCATION FOR STUDY ABROAD KIOSK  Franklin Hall lobby, Taylor Hall  Student Center GIVE A FACE TO THE STUDY ABROAD PROGRAM  Deborah Davis COMMUNICATE REGULARLY IN CLASSROOMS  Students share experiences  Initial introduction in FYE classes  Instructors & faculty encourage study abroad
  • 30. INFORMATION COMMUNICATE INFORMATION REGARDING COST  Create price comparison between on-campus and study abroad tuitions  Provide estimated budgets for several tiers of spending, taking into consideration:  Weekend travel  Food consumed  Additional expenditures REVAMP THE WEBSITE  More accessible  Easily navigated  Include all programs, sample budgets (above), and additional fine print ADVERTISE FACULTY SUPPORT  Communicate the assistance available in planning/preparing  Presence during actual travel
  • 31. PROGRAMS + COMMUNICATION + INFORMATION:CREATE A CULTURE OF STUDYABROAD Integrate study abroad component into CCI curriculum  Model after other KSU programs  Architecture & Interior Design  Fashion Early Communication  College promotional materials  College tours, FYE classes  Direct information & collateral materials to both students and parents Generate a “buzz” about international semester  When meeting with advisors, urge students to plan for semester abroad  Offer seminars/meetings on planning & preparation for programs  Have students who’ve completed program mentor “first-timers”  Establish a Facebook presence for students to share stories, pictures, excitement  Have a segment on Black Squirrel Radio where people talk about travel experiences