This volume of Frontiers contains articles covering a broad range of study abroad topics that I hope readers will find both stimulating and useful. Taken as a whole, this volume provides information and tools that can be used to improve and enhance study abroad programs.
Rexeisen, Anderson, Lawton, and Hubbard utilized the Intercultural Development Inventory (IDI) to assess the impact of a semester study abroad program on the development of cross-cultural sensitivity. Their article, “Study Abroad and Intercultural Development: A Longitudinal Study,” provides evidence that a student’s integration and adaptation to cultural experiences continue after a student returns home after study abroad. In general, this article supports the conclusion that study abroad has positive impact on the intercultural development of students. However, it also found that some of the gains found immediately after study abroad diminish over time.
In his article “Service-Learning in Context: An International Perspective,” Michael Woolf explores the definition and goals of service-learning and its value within a study abroad context. Drawing on his long experience in developing and managing study abroad programs, Woolf advocates for adopting several “strategic objectives” that emphasize the “learning” dimension of service-learning, including parity of esteem with other academic courses and academic credibility. He then argues for and outline approaches to defining learning objectives before offering conclusions about dangers and pitfalls as well as benefits to service-learning within the study abroad context.
Paus and Robinson present a general model of the determinants of study abroad participation and then apply it to isolate the factors that are most important at their home institution, Mount Holyoke College. Their model provides a tool to assess the effectiveness of some of the institutional policies for expanding study abroad participation, and to identify new areas for policy invention. Specifically, their analysis identifies parent and faculty encouragement as key determinants of a student’s study abroad decision. Based on their analysis, the authors discuss the specific role that faculty play to increase study abroad participation.
Nadine Dolby’s “Global Citizenship and Study Abroad: A Comparative Study of American and Australian Undergraduates,” examines how both Australians and Americans undergraduates negotiate their national and global identities in the context of study abroad. Dolby demonstrates the nuances of “global citizenship” as students experience and describe it, and argues for a more complex understanding of the dynamics of nation and globe, and for a paradigm of “global citizenship” grounded in critical self-awareness, mutual respect, and reciprocity. Based on her research, she proposes that global citizenship is inflected differently in diverse national contexts, as demonstrated by the contrasting experiences of the Americans and Australians abroad.’
Harrison and Voelker’s study assess the effectiveness of study abroad programs by identifying and evaluating the factors that contribute to students’ success. Their research, “Two Personality Variables and the Cross-cultural Adjustment of Study Abroad Students,” utilized self-assessments by semester study abroad students to examine the impact of both “emotional intelligence” and “entrepreneurial attitude orientation” on the student’s adjustment to their host culture. The results of the study indicated that sub-dimensions of emotional intelligence is significantly related to both general and interaction adjustment in a host culture, and that entrepreneurial attitude orientation is significantly related to interaction adjustment.
Hoff and Paige’s article, “A Strategies-Based Approach to Culture and Language Learning in Education Abroad Programming,” discusses the results of a study that researched the use of two study abroad guides by study abroad advisors, and resident directors in their pre-departure and on-site programming. The participants in this project were interviewed and discussed the challenges and successes in using the Maximizing Study Abroad Program Professionals Guide and the Students’ Guide. The article presents suggestions for using these guides effectively to impact student learning.
In their article, “Does Language Matter? The Impact of Language of Instruction on Study Abroad Outcomes,” Norris and Steinberg present their study of the impact of students taking courses in the target language versus those who take some or all of their courses in English. Mining data from nearly 50 years of study abroad programming, they conclude that each language environment has its distinctive merits, and that all yield benefits to participants. Drawing on a survey of over 17,000 IES alumni, their research helps us to recognize the value of the various study abroad models.
“Study Abroad and Career Paths of Business Students,” by Orahood, Woolf, and Kruze, assesses the impact of study abroad on business students’ post-graduation career paths by surveying alumni who were five to ten years into their careers. While the authors did not find a causal link showing that study abroad significantly impacts business students’ career paths, they did find that alumni consider the transferable skills (communication, flexibility, adaptation, etc.) that they gained while abroad are valuable life skills. The authors also sought to compare the career paths of alumni who studied abroad to those who did not. They found that, although business students who studied abroad tend to have a significantly greater interest in working for a company with an international component, the number of alumni who found work with international clients/customers was greater for those who did not study abroad.
Together these articles provide important insights and useful information about a number of important areas of study abroad. I would like to thank the authors of these articles as well as the many colleagues who served as manuscript reviewers for this volume.
I would also like to acknowledge the continued support of the institutional sponsors of Frontiers, especially Dickinson College, which has been the home of Frontiers for the past eight years. The sponsors make it possible for Frontiers to continue to serve the needs of the study abroad field and disseminate the journal widely.
Brian Whalen, Editor
The Forum on Education Abroad