The Global Engagement Measurement Scale (GEMS): A New Scale for Assessing the Impact of Education Abroad and Campus Internationalization


  • Noel L. Shadowen
  • Lisa P. Chieffo
  • Nancy G. Guerra



Global Engagement Measurement, Assessment, Impact of study abroad, Study abroad, Education abroad, Campus internationalization


We describe the development and validation of a new instrument to measure the non-academic impact of education abroad, the Global Engagement Measurement Scale (GEMS). Based on a review of the extant literature, we developed a 37-item instrument containing scales for four specific constructs of interest: a) cultural engagement; b) ambiguity tolerance; c) knowledge of the host site; and d) diversity openness. The measure was piloted with 263 education abroad students before and after a 5- week education abroad program. We examined the scales’ underlying factor structure, reliability, and sensitivity to education abroad program effects. Results indicate strong reliability and statistically significant increases across all scales following education abroad experiences. The GEMS instrument is brief and easy to administer, publically available, and includes important constructs for assessing the impact of education abroad. Additionally, the GEMS could be used to assess campus internationalization efforts with domestic and international students.


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Author Biographies

Noel L. Shadowen

Noel Shadowen is a Ph.D. student in Clinical Science at the University of Delaware, focusing on cultural and international issues and mental health. Her current research examines links between trauma and negative mental health outcomes with marginalized elementary children in India. At the Institute for Global Studies Noel works on research involving both international students and education abroad student outcomes. Noel received her MA in International Development Studies from The George Washington University.

Lisa P. Chieffo

Lisa Chieffo is Associate Director for Study Abroad in the Institute for Global Studies at the University of Delaware. Overseeing some 70 global programs enrolling about 1,300 students annually, she is responsible for program development, crisis management, policy development and implementation, and assessment.  With 20 years’ experience in education abroad, Lisa has published widely and presented at multiple conferences. She earned her MA in German and Ed.D. in Educational Leadership from the University of Delaware.

Nancy G. Guerra

Dr. Nancy Guerra is the Director of the Institute for Global Studies at the University of Delaware and a faculty member in the Department of Psychological & Brain Sciences. Dr. Guerra workson many international projects funded by The World Bank, The IADB, and USAID. These projects emphasize improved educational and youth services in Latin America and the Caribbean. She has also served on several national panels. She received her doctorate from Harvard University.


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How to Cite

Shadowen , N. L., Chieffo , L. P., & Guerra , N. G. (2015). The Global Engagement Measurement Scale (GEMS): A New Scale for Assessing the Impact of Education Abroad and Campus Internationalization. Frontiers: The Interdisciplinary Journal of Study Abroad, 26(1), 231–247.



Research Articles