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«Title: STUDY ABROAD AS A PASSPORT TO STUDENT LEARNING: DOES THE DURATION OF THE STUDY ABROAD PROGRAM MATTER? Jill M. Neppel, Master of Arts, 2005 ...»

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ABSTRACT

Title: STUDY ABROAD AS A PASSPORT TO

STUDENT LEARNING: DOES THE

DURATION OF THE STUDY ABROAD

PROGRAM MATTER?

Jill M. Neppel, Master of Arts, 2005

Directed By: Assistant Professor Karen Kurotsuchi Inkelas, Counseling and Personnel Services This study examined the effect of the length of a study abroad program on the achievement of four learning outcomes: cognitive complexity, liberal learning, personal philosophy, and interpersonal self-confidence. Data was collected through a web-based survey instrument that was administered to a sample population of University of Maryland study abroad participants. The following study abroad programs were represented: Fall 2003, Winter 2004, Spring 2004, Summer 2004, Academic Year 2003-2004, Fall 2004, and Winter 2005. Analysis of covariance (ANCOVA) was employed in the research design with gender and academic class standing as covariates.

The results found each of the research hypotheses to be statistically significant. The amount of growth in cognitive complexity, liberal learning, personal philosophy and interpersonal self-confidence was found to be significantly higher in the self-reported scores of those respondents who studied abroad on long-term programs in comparison to those individuals who studied abroad on short-term programs.

STUDY ABROAD AS A PASSPORT TO STUDENT LEARNING: DOES THE

DURATION OF THE STUDY ABROAD PROGRAM MATTER?

By Jill M. Neppel Thesis submitted to the Faculty of the Graduate School of the University of Maryland, College Park, in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Arts

Advisory Committee:

Assistant Professor Karen Kurotsuchi Inkelas, Chair Associate Professor Susan R. Komives Dr. Marsha Guenzler-Stevens © Copyright by Jill M. Neppel i Table of Contents List of Tables

Chapter I: Introduction

Historical Legacy of Study Abroad

Current Status of Study Abroad

Profile of Study Abroad Participants

Study Abroad Destinations

Duration of Study Abroad Programs

Study Abroad Program Models

Common Definitions

Types of Programs

University of Maryland Programs

Goals of Study Abroad

A Comparison of Short-term and Long-term Study Abroad

Long-Term Study Abroad Programs

Short-Term Study Abroad Programs

Purpose of the Research Study

Significance of the Problem

Conclusion

Chapter II: Literature Review

Introduction

Research on College Student Learning

The Effect of Student Characteristics

Involving Colleges

The Role of Student Involvement

Research on Study Abroad

Limitations of Study Abroad Research

Study Abroad Research: Negative Results

Study Abroad Research: Inconclusive Results

Study Abroad Research: Positive Results

Intersection of Research on Student Learning and Study Abroad.................47 Impact of Length of Time Abroad

Summary and Conclusion

Chapter III: Methodology

Review of Research Question and Hypotheses

Description of the Institution

Description of the Sample

Survey Instrument and Variables of Interest

Survey Questions

Validity and Reliability

Data Collection Procedure

The Subjects

ii Administering the Survey

Data Analysis

Scale Creation

Inferential Statistics

Descriptive Statistics

Summary

Chapter IV: Results

Introduction

Description of the Sample

Description of Respondents’ Study Abroad Experiences

Data Analysis: Inferential Statistics

Data Clean-up and Modifications

Reliability

Testing of ANCOVA Assumptions

Analysis of Hypotheses

Ancillary Analyses

Summary

Chapter V: Discussion

Findings and Implications

Summary of Findings

Interpretation of Findings

Hypothesis One

Hypothesis Two

Hypothesis Three

Hypothesis Four

Additional Findings

Practical Implications

Limitations and Generalizability of the Study

Threats to Internal Validity

Threats to External Validity

Other Limitations

Suggestions for Future Research

Summary

Appendix A: NSLLP Survey

Appendix B: Study Abroad Survey

Appendix C: NSLLP Composite Scores

References

–  –  –

Table 1: Estimated Number of Participants According to Program Type.............57 Table 2: Survey Questions

Table 3: Composite Measures

Table 4: Participation in Study Abroad Programs of Varying Lengths: Survey Respondents’ Participation versus the Study Abroad Office’s Estimation of Total Number of Participants

Table 5: A Comparison of the Participants of this Research Study to the 2002-2003 Population of U.S. American Study Abroad Participants.....71 Table 6: Annual Income of Survey Respondents’ Parents by Length of Program

Table 7: Survey Respondents’ Academic Colleges by Length of Study Abroad Program





Table 8: Current Class Standing of Survey Respondents by Length of Study Abroad Program

Table 9: Number of Times Survey Respondents Traveled Abroad Prior to this Study Abroad Experience by Length of Program

Table 10: Longest Amount of Time (In Weeks) Spent in Another Country During a Single Visit Prior to this Study Abroad Experience.................76 Table 11: The Sponsoring Institutions and Organizations of Survey Respondents’ Study Abroad Programs

Table 12: The Extent to Which Survey Respondents’ Study Abroad Programs Required Traveling to Multiple Locations by Length of Program..........78 Table 13: The Location of Survey Respondents’ Study Abroad Programs by Length of Program

Table 14: The Extent to which Survey Respondents’ Study Abroad Experiences Involved the English Language by Length of Program......79 Table 15: The Use of English as the Language of Instruction for the Majority of Survey Respondents’ Classes by Length of Program

Table 16: The Nationalities of Survey Respondents’ Classmates While Abroad....80

–  –  –

Table 18: Survey Respondents’ Answer to Whether or Not Their Program Involved Staying With a Host Family by Length of Study Abroad Program

Table 19: Survey Respondents’ Answer to Whether or Not Their Program Involved Staying in University Housing by Length of Study Abroad Program

Table 20: Survey Respondents’ Answer to Whether or Not Their Program Involved Staying In a Private Dormitory by Length of Study Abroad Program

Table 21: Survey Respondents’ Answer to Whether or Not Their Program Involved Staying In a Private Apartment by Length of Study Abroad Program

Table 22: Survey Respondents’ Answer to Whether or Not Their Program Involved Staying In Hotels by Length of Study Abroad Program...........83 Table 23: Habitation Patterns of Survey Respondents by Length of Study Abroad Program

Table 24: Reliability of Measured Constructs

Table 25: Descriptive Statistics for the NSLLP

Table 26: ANCOVA of Differences in Amount of Growth in Cognitive Complexity by Length of Study Abroad Program..............90 Table 27: ANCOVA of Differences in Amount of Growth in Liberal Learning by Length of Study Abroad Program

Table 28: ANCOVA of Differences in Amount of Growth in Personal Philosophy by Length of Study Abroad Program.................92 Table 29: ANCOVA of Differences in Amount of Growth in Interpersonal Self-Confidence

Table 30: Survey Respondents’ Feelings toward the Length of their Study Abroad Programs

Table 31: Participants’ Feelings toward their Study Abroad Experiences..............95

–  –  –

According to the Institute of International Education (IIE; 2004), a record 174,629 U.S. American college students received credit for studying abroad during the 2002/03 academic year. This marks an increase of 8.5% from the previous year and an astounding 145% increase from 1991/92 totals. These statistics are consistent with the general trend of increased student interest in study abroad, which has been apparent since the middle of the twentieth century, as shown by the increasing number of students studying abroad.

According to the IIE, the number of students participating in study abroad programs has risen concurrent to the proliferation of study abroad opportunities, which have become more “plentiful, varied and more affordable” ( 2).

One of the ways in which study abroad opportunities have proliferated is the introduction of short-term programs. Within the last few decades, short-term study abroad programs have emerged as a popular alternative to the traditional study abroad programs that last for a semester or academic year. Although short-term study abroad has been credited with the rapidly ascending number of U.S. study abroad participants, research has not yet studied the effectiveness of short-term options in facilitating the learning outcomes often associated with their long-term study abroad counterparts.

Accordingly, this study sought to examine potential differences in learning outcomes among undergraduates who participate in study abroad programs of differing lengths of time. Before discussing the research questions and hypotheses of this study in more detail, however, it is important to first provide a historical and contemporary portrayal of the field of study abroad.

Historical Legacy of Study Abroad During the colonial period, international education was only an option for members of the elite class. According to Sell (1983), it was quite common for the adolescent male sons of affluent families to travel to Western Europe for the entirety of their post-secondary education. Even after colleges and universities were founded in the United States, a select number of students continued to travel abroad to receive advanced specialized training at foreign universities (Sell). Not until the time period between the first and second World Wars, when the “Junior Year Abroad” program was established for educational, economic, military and political reasons, did the number and demographics of students participating in international education begin to change (Sell).

The major focus of junior year abroad programs was foreign language instruction. Most of these programs relocated students to Western European countries for the duration of an academic year. However, just as the field of higher education itself began to change after World War II, so too did the purpose and scope of international education.

In 1944, the Servicemen’s Readjustment Act (commonly referred to as the G. I.

Bill) was passed, which provided returning war veterans with financial assistance and the incentive to enroll in colleges and universities as an alternative to looking for employment in the already saturated labor market. As a result of the G. I. Bill, diversity among male students increased dramatically on college campuses, as did the total number of students enrolled in post-secondary education (Thelin, 2003). Another historical influence on higher education that dates back to around this time was the momentous decision of the federal government to begin providing financial aid packages to students and higher education institutions in the 1960s. This succeeded in drastically increasing access to higher education for women students, students of color, students of low socioeconomic backgrounds and nontraditionally aged students (Pearson, Shavlik, & Touchton, 1989; Thelin). At the same time, and perhaps due to the above factors, the nature of study abroad programs and demographics of participating students also began to change after World War II (Sell, 1983). As an alternative to the traditional academic year-long study abroad programs, semester, quarter and summer programs began to emerge. For the first time, students were given the choice of how long to remain abroad, as well as what to study while abroad (Sell). Increasingly, students were able to choose from a variety of academic disciplines, instead of being limited to the traditional option of foreign language and literature (Sell).

Current Status of Study Abroad Profile of study abroad participants. A look at the rank and profile of students who take advantage of the opportunity to study abroad serves to give readers insight into just how much international education has changed throughout the history of the United States. At the same time, this depiction also serves to demonstrate how much work remains to be done in order to reach a level where all college and university students enroll in study abroad at the same rate, regardless of gender, socioeconomic class, race/ethnicity, age and/or ability.

As expected, the data provided by the Open Doors Report (IIE, 2004) reveal that the majority of study abroad participants are undergraduate students. Within the undergraduate population, juniors comprise the largest group of participants (38.0%), followed by seniors (20.2%), sophomores (11.8%) and freshmen (2.9%), respectively (IIE). Of the remaining 2002/03 study abroad participants, 15.3% are classified as unspecified undergraduate students, 3.4% are classified as unspecified graduate students, 4.8% are Master’s students, 2.1% of the students are pursuing their Associate degrees, 0.9% are Doctoral students and 0.7% are designated as unknown/other (IIE).

As stated earlier, study abroad is no longer restricted to foreign language majors.



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