“And the work continues…”: Studying Study Away

written by admin on February 14, 2017 in Global Learning and Studying EL with no comments

by Nina Namaste

Summer Two of the Center’s 2015-2017 research seminar on Integrating Global Learning with the University Experience: Higher-Impact Study Abroad and Off-Campus Domestic Study  offered participants the time, place, and space to reconvene after a year of data collection. Participants were able to code and analyze data together, and further refine their research project as they head into year two of data collection. The co-leaders excitedly watched the groups’ progress during the week as they approached the four central questions of the seminar:

  1. Students’ integration of study abroad and off-campus domestic study with other university global learning experiences
  2. Educators’ roles in students’ study abroad and off-campus domestic study
  3. Curricular and programmatic factors that integrate study abroad and off-campus domestic study with students’ other global learning experiences
  4. Institutional factors that integrate student learning from study abroad and off-campus domestic study.

Year One was filled with writing and submitting IRB proposals, testing out data collection methods, learning new skills (such as IDI training), as well as reading, analyzing, and synthesizing the existing literature to write their literature reviews. As a recap and update on what the groups did during year one of the seminar:

Iris Bedrow, Laura Boudon, Rebecca Cruise, Katia Levintova, Dan Paraka, Sabine Smith and Paul Worley investigated student choices and institutional structures in global learning and study abroad at six very different institutions (Bentley, Florida International, U of Oklahoma, U of Wisconsin-Green Bay, Kennesaw, and Western Carolina). During year one they looked at questions such as….

  • What is the relationship between institutional efforts and student choices on global learning?
  • To what extent, if any, do integrated university structures make a difference in the number of students who take advantage of global learning opportunities?
  • Do students at institutions where there is a conscious effort to package various global learning opportunities in a formal way engage in more and different global learning experiences than students at institutions where global learning experiences are more decentralized and less integrated?
  • What does curricular integration look like from the perspective of the students?
  • Do students see, and, more importantly, practice global learning integration?

The group crafted and sent out surveys to students who have participated in global learning opportunities to explore how students make choices to pursue those opportunities and integrate them into their collegiate experience.

Lynette Bikos, Zachary Frieders and Scott Manning explored how student characteristics and program choice impact students’ academic and intercultural success at three different institutions (Seattle Pacific, U of California Davis, and Susquehanna). During year one their specific questions were:

  • What student characteristics contribute to study away/abroad program choice?  
  • How do these factors combined with program choice impact academic success and intercultural competencies?
  • How do student characteristics, self-efficacy, GPI score, and program type jointly predict post-participation GPI change?

They distributed and collected surveys, implemented GPIs (pre and post study abroad/study away), as well as the Socio-Cultural Adaptation Self-Efficacy Evaluation to students at all three institutions.

Sarah Glasco, Dana Gross, Lisa Jasinski, Joan Jillespie, and Prudence Layne, representing St. Olaf, Elon, Trinity, and Associated Colleges of the Midwest, researched the experiences of faculty members who lead short-term global programs as the students who participate in these programs at select private liberal arts college. During year one their specific questions included:

  • What factors contribute to the transformation of study abroad/study away (SASA) faculty leaders to positively impact them, their students and institutions?
  • How do faculty describe the contexts or situations that have influenced their experiences leading global programs?
  • What is the greater institutional impact of faculty led-SASA programs?

The group crafted and distributed a survey to faculty at 31 private liberal arts institutions seeking to understand the motivations and experiences of global program faculty.

The second largest, and most international, group – with Ashley Brenner, Mike Carignan, Jane Hardy, Jodi Malmgren, Melanie Rathburn, and Andrea Paras – analyzed how pre-departure cultural orientation affects students’ intercultural competence in short-term faculty-led study abroad programs at Community College of Philadelphia, Elon, Wabash, St. Olaf, U of Guelph, and Mount Royal. Their specific questions during year one included:

  • Will students in short-term study abroad programs demonstrate growth in intercultural competency if appropriate pre-departure cultural orientation is provided?
  • Will students in programs with higher levels of cultural orientation demonstrate greater growth in intercultural competence?

One group member went through IDI training and administered the IDI and debriefs to students at the various universities. The team also crafted and posed writing prompts and collected students’ written reflections before, during, and after the short-term study abroad programs in order to evaluate students’ intercultural competence development.

Micki Davis, Joe Hoff, and Stephanie Kusano delved into the similarities and differences in the practices, teaching methods and intended learning outcomes of global learning in curricular and co-curricular settings at Clark, U of MI and U of MN. Their specific question during year one was:


How are intended global learning outcomes and pedagogical practices correlated with measures of student learning?

The group used interviews and focus groups with chairs of academic and co-curricular departments and offices at Clark University. They did a content analysis of curricular and co-curricular department syllabi, training materials, mission and vision statements using the Global Learning Index (GLI) at U of Michigan (the GLI was validated by the SERU Consortium and other work conducted by Mary Wright). Scores were calculated from an existing 2015 campus-wide survey of undergraduates across the U of Michigan (Student Experience in the Research University) as well.

After an intensive seminar week the groups went back to their respective universities to continue data collection and analysis. One thing for sure, the preliminary results are demonstrating that the quality of the study away experience really matters!


Nina Namaste is Associate Professor of Spanish in the Department of World Languages and Cultures at Elon University. She is a co-leader for the 2015-2017 research seminar on Integrating Global Learning with the University Experience: Higher-Impact Study Abroad and Off-Campus Domestic Study.