Jul 162014

Study Abroad Articles Supporting Student Success;

Gain, Engage, Retain and Graduate Students at a Higher Rate

How Studying Or Working Abroad Changes The Way You Think:

How does studying or working abroad change you? You return with a photo album full of memories and a suitcase full of souvenirs, sure. But you may also come back from your time in another country with an ability to think more complexly and creatively—and you may be professionally more successful as a result. Read More



Why Study Abroad?

• Earn college credit in a new environment.
• Experience and appreciate other cultures.
• Meet and travel with other college students.
• Offer employers a resume with intercultural experiences.
• Gain a better understanding of your own country and way of life.



Why to Strategically Implement a Community College Study Abroad Program:




New study makes the link between study abroad and employability:

“Amidst a backdrop of considerable concerns around youth employment in many parts of the world, a new European Commission study released this month finds that young people who study or train abroad not only gain knowledge in specific disciplines, but also strengthen key skills highly valued by employers.”




The March 2014 Terra Dotta Newsletter discussed research focused on community college study abroad:

“since 1999, we confirmed our suspicions: there were double-digit increases in retention and graduation rates of SSS students who participated in international education, even when controlling for GPA”




California Community College Student Outcomes, Study Abroad, Research Project:

“In a study recently completed by the University of Minnesota, data showed that of the Fall 1999 and Fall 2000 freshmen, only about 50% of those who did not study abroad graduated in five years, where over 85% of those who studied abroad graduated in five years”.

“Indiana University data shows 95.3% of students who study abroad (using the entering cohort from 1999) graduated within 6 years as compared to 68.5% for the students who did not study abroad”

The GLOSSARI data reflecting the Georgia higher education system data reports several interesting findings. Students who study abroad have a 17.8% higher 4-year graduation rate. Students-of-color who study abroad have a 17.9% higher 4-year graduation rate. In particular, African-American students who study abroad have a 31.2% higher four-year graduation rate and African-Americans who study abroad achieve 6-year graduation rates that are roughly the same as white students who study abroad (84.4% vs. 88.6%). Additionally, students who study abroad have higher grade point averages in their subsequent and final semesters, with the improvement in GPAs most pronounced among students who entered colleges with relatively lower SAT scores and high-school grades (glossari.uga.edu)”

“Findings from this research lend empirical support for this assertion, adding that it is not enough to send students to study abroad without intentional pedagogy focused on outcomes of intercultural effectiveness.”

“Results confirmed the hypothesis that students who study abroad exhibit a greater change in intercultural communication skills after their semester abroad than students who stay on campus. Results also indicated that exposure to various cultures was the greatest predictor of intercultural communication skills”



California Community College Student Outcomes, Study Abroad, Research Project:

Regression-adjusted outcomes (as well as non-adjusted) between study abroad and non-study abroad students showed study abroad students had higher outcomes on:

• One-year retention
• Two-year retention
• Transfer English completion
• Transfer math completion
• Mean transferable units completed
• Transferable GPA
• Degree and certificate completion
• Transfer rates

“While study abroad courses are intended to enrich and broaden students from an international perspective, previous studies suggest there may be a positive effect on student outcomes (Indiana University, 2009; Sutton & Rubin, 2010”

The UNC Undergraduate Retention Study:


Building a Culture and Systems that Support Student Success; A Plan for Significantly Improving Undergraduate Retention and Graduation Rates at UMass Boston:

“Improving student success must be the university’s highest priority if we are to achieve the goal of becoming a great student-centered, urban public research university. Failure to improve undergraduate graduation rates may undermine the university’s aspirations in other areas by weakening its reputation and even its financial well-being”.

“The Graduation Rates Committee believes that campus work on improving graduation rates is at the very core of our mission and identity, and must therefore be a central focus of our strategic efforts”


“The Work Group’s plan for improving the university’s retention and graduation puts forward seven major recommendations aimed at building a new system and culture that places students on track and keeps them on track, integrates students’ academic and social experiences and connects them to networks from the beginning. Two themes overarch the Committee’s recommendations”

We also recommend the identification of and support for teaching and learning that promotes the retention of freshmen and increases opportunities to extend learning and engagement (undergraduate research, study abroad, service learning, civic engagement, co- and extra-curricular activities).

We need to develop programming that connects transfer students to the university community early and often. We also need to develop programming aimed at increasing transfer student engagement and success (undergraduate research, study abroad, service learning, civic engagement, co- and extra-curricular activities).

The committee should continue to be chaired by the Vice Provost for Academic Support Services and Undergraduate Studies who would have administrative responsibility for overseeing implementation of the plan. We recommend that the Vice Chancellor for Enrollment Management and the Dean of Science and Mathematics continue to serve as co-chairs. In addition, we recommend that the committee be comprised of 12-15 people and include deans, senior and junior faculty members who have an interest in and/or have contributed to previous retention related efforts, advising staff, enrollment staff, representatives from academic support services, the college retention programs, undergraduate studies/general education, student affairs,
the library, athletics, and institutional research.

The committee believes that improving the graduation rate will demand the committed effort of the entire university, each working in its own way to keep students on-track, engaged, and more satisfied with campus life.



Retention, Progression, and Graduation Plan; Year 2 Report:

Acknowledgement of Diversity: “This commitment to diversity was demonstrated by a more than 5 percent increase in the participation of students in the University’s study abroad programs. The University is committed to increase that participation to over 7 percent during FY 2012. In an effort to accomplish that goal the institution established a Global Access Fee during FY 2011 which will provide funding for a wider range of students to have an opportunity to participate in the study abroad experience.”


Study abroad may lead to better GPA, graduation rates:

“In 2000, researchers began an ambitious effort to document the academic, researchers began an ambitious effort to document the academic outcomes outcomes of study abroad across the 35-institution University System of Georgia. Ten years later, they’ve found that students who study abroad have improved academic performance upon returning to their home campus, higher graduation rates, and improved knowledge of cultural practices and context compared to students in control groups. They’ve also found that studying abroad helps, rather than hinders, academic performance of at-risk students”

“They found that the four-year graduation rate was 49.6% for study abroad students, compared to 42.1% for students in the control group (and 24% for students in the University System of Georgia as a whole). Six-year rates were 88.7% for study abroad participants and 83.4% for students in the control group (and 49.3% system-wide). The effect held across various subgroups of students divided by gender, race and SAT score, but was particularly pronounced for certain groups — most dramatically, four-year graduation rates for African-Americans who’d studied abroad were 31% higher than for African-American students in the control group. Four-year graduation rates for other nonwhite students who’d studied abroad were 18% higher than for their peers in the control group. Nationally, nonwhite students remain underrepresented in study abroad — according to the latest data, from the Institute of International Education’s Open Doors survey, 81.8% of Americans studying abroad in 2007-8 were white.

The GLOSSARI Project found that for students who’d studied abroad, their mean cumulative GPA prior to going overseas was 3.24 and the mean cumulative GPA afterward was 3.30. For the control group over the same period, the mean GPA increased from 3.03 to 3.06. Researchers found a particularly pronounced effect of study abroad on academic performance among students who entered college with the lowest SAT scores. Among students who entered college with a combined SAT score of 800 (on the verbal and math sections), those who studied abroad ended up with a GPA of 3.21 compared to 3.14 for those students who stayed stateside. On the other extreme, for those students who entered college with a perfect SAT score of 1600, study abroad had no effect on their GPA, which on average was 3.25 regardless.

“The conventional wisdom is that students who are at risk should be discouraged from studying abroad altogether,” Rubin said. “But this suggests that study abroad can actually be an intervention to enhance the success for college students who are at-risk. Rather than derailing them, rather than diverting them, it actually focuses them.”

Study Abroad, Graduate on time:

“At the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities, for example, institutional research shows that 64.5 percent of students who study abroad graduate in four years, compared to 41 percent of students who don’t; at the five-year mark the numbers increase to 90 percent for participants, and 58.6 percent for nonparticipants”

“At the University of California at San Diego, five-year graduation rates are 92 percent for study abroad participants, and 78 percent for non- participants”

“Higher graduation rates for students who study abroad can be observed across a wide variety of variables, including race, gender, major, first-generation status, parental income, SAT score, and grade-point average”

“Furthermore, a recent study by Heather Barclay Hamir at the University of Texas at Austin found that the effect of study abroad was particularly pronounced among students with lower freshman G.P.A.s: students with a 2.0 who studied abroad were 30 percent more likely to graduate in four years than nonparticipants, and 45 percent more likely to graduate in five years”

“study abroad is a “high-impact educational practice” that can contribute to increases in student engagement and retention”

“one of the highest-ranked components is, ‘I’ve made new friends that I wouldn’t have made otherwise.’ When you’re connected on a social level on campus it’s harder to leave.”



Impact of Study Abroad on Retention and Success:

Research Findings:

University of Georgia (system wide):

• The University of Georgia System implemented the Georgia Learning Outcomes of Students Studying Abroad Research Initiative (GLOSSARI). The GLOSSARI methodology avoids inflating the impact of study abroad on graduation rates by only comparing students who have persisted to the same stages of their college careers. Thus a student who studied abroad following her junior year was compared only with other students who likewise had completed their junior years (but who chose not to study abroad). For some analyses, the GLOSSARI methodology also uses statistical controls to equate students on the basis of the semester just prior to the study abroad experience.

• Students who studied abroad had a 17.8% higher 4-year graduation rate.
• Students of color who studied abroad had a 17.9% higher 4-year graduation rate.
• African-American students who studied abroad had a 31.2% higher four-year graduation rate.
• African-Americans who studied abroad had 6-year graduation rates roughly the same as white students who studied abroad (84.4% vs. 88.6%).

Indiana University:

• Using the entering cohort from 1999, 95.3% of students who studied abroad graduated within 6 years as compared to 68.5% of students who did not study abroad.
• Study abroad students earned higher grades and completed degrees in four years at a higher rate than their peers.
• The average study abroad student earned a cumulative GPA of 3.21 compared to 3.12 for peers who didn’t study abroad.
• Study abroad students had a probably of .91 of completing a bachelor’s degree in four years compared to .84 for peers.
University of Minnesota-Twin Cities:
• Of Fall 2003 freshmen, 64.5% of those who studied abroad graduated by their 4th year, compared to 41.0% among non-study abroad students.
• 33.3% of this cohort dropped out by the 4th year compared to only 6.0% of those who studied abroad.


Minority Students: Study Abroad and Academic Success:

“Last year, findings were released from GLOSSARI, the Georgia Learning Outcomes of Students Studying Abroad Research Initiative, based on a decade of data. Among the findings:
• Students completing study abroad programs show improved academic performance in subsequent terms
• Study abroad students have higher graduation rates
• Study abroad improves academic performance for at-risk students”



Study Abroad and Student Success:

“Thinking about the majority of students who stay on campus during their years at the University, it is intriguing to consider what leads those nearly 20% of UI undergraduates who study abroad to make that decision and to stick to it”.


Men and Women Differ in How They Decide to Study Abroad, Study Finds

The Iowa researchers also found that:

• The more men interacted with their peers, the less likely they were to intend to study abroad. Peer interactions did not have such an impact on women.
• Women, but not men, who attended regional institutions or community colleges were less likely than those attending liberal-arts colleges to intend to study abroad. The researchers speculated that perhaps “something about the educational culture at regional institutions and community colleges is negatively affecting women’s intent to study abroad,” or that perhaps “women attending these institutions are impacted by additional obligations such as family or parenting responsibilities that preclude the possibility of studying abroad.”


Studying Abroad with Purdue Promise :


The Effect of Study Abroad on College Completion in a State University System:

“In 1995, the U.S. had the highest graduation rates in the world. By 2007, the rates had fallen to fourteenth in the world (OECD, 2009, p.65 ) President Obama responded to the national crisis with a pledge to regain the highest proportion of college graduates in the world by 2020 (Obama, 2009). The President is joined by the National Governors Association, which has made college completion a top priority with their “compete to complete” initiative (OECD, 2009, p.65)”.

Results indicated that the graduation rates for study abroad students exceeded those for domestic students by 7.5%, 7.9%, and 5.3% for four-, five-, and six-year graduation rates, respectively.

Students who study abroad evince higher levels of multiple aspects of engagement, including abstract reasoning, higher order thinking, integrative learning, and social development, (Che et al, 1999; McKeown, 2009; NSSE, 2007). Moreover, student engagement has been consistently shown to improve graduation rates (Astin, 1990; Pascarelli & Terenzini, 2005; Tinto, 1993), and studying abroad has emerged as a “high impact” activity for enhancing engagement. Given that study abroad is one mechanism for improving student engagement, it is reasonable to expect students who study abroad to have higher graduation rates than comparable students who did not.

Contrary to the common supposition that studying abroad diverts students from the timely pursuit of their degrees, our results point to study abroad as a significant contributor to college completion. The impact of study abroad on timely college completion invites serious reconsideration of the place of study abroad in the undergraduate experience


Current Trends in U.S. Study Abroad & The Impact of Strategic Diversity Initiatives (Whitepaper #1)


Exploring Host Country Capacity for Increasing U.S. Study Abroad (Whitepaper #2)


Expanding Education Abroad at U.S. Community Colleges (Whitepaper #3)

White Paper #3 in IIE’s Policy Research Series on Meeting America’s Global Education Challenge (2008):

“Students from America’s community colleges continue to be underrepresented in study abroad.While the number of students at community colleges participating in study abroad for academic credit has grown substantially in recent years – over 6,000 community college students studied abroad in 2005/06 – less than 3 percent of those who study abroad are community college students”

“Education abroad at community colleges has several key characteristics that distinguish it from education abroad at
four-year institutions, and these differences necessitate a distinct approach to expanding study abroad opportunities for community college students”

“The community college mission emphasizes direct learning experiences to teach cognitive and social skills. Few educational
opportunities offer as direct and immersive a learning experience as education abroad. Thus, education abroad is directly aligned with the community college mission; contributes to credit transfer,career and technical preparation and community education; and is student-focused”

According to the American Council on Education (ACE) publication, Mapping Internationalization on U.S. Campuses: 2008 Edition, 73 percent of communitycolleges did not include a commitment to internationalization in their mission statements in 2006, and 80 percent did not include internationalization as a top priority in their strategic plans.15 The IIE/CCIE survey indicates that even those colleges with internationalization strategies may not always include education abroad as a central component of the internationalization process (Fig. 6)



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Tom McDonald, tsm@centurytel.net, 1-608-788-5144

Study Abroad,  Common Questions and Answers

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