Many IHEC Blog readers and colleagues know that I am very interested in the scholarly side of the field of international education with particular research interests focusing on U.S. students studying abroad. While my research interests have been changing over the last several years I’m still very interested in the micro level outcomes that study abroad programs have on students. The following two articles published in International Education Forum (former journal of AIEA) in 1997 not only sparked my interest in the scholarly side of the field but put forth a framework that as guided my thinking since.
Stimpfl, Joseph R., and David Engberg. “What to Know Before You Go: Creating a Comparison for Research on Study Abroad Programs,” International Education Forum, 17 no. 1 (1997): 7-21.
Stimpfl, Joseph R. and David Engberg. “Comparing Apples to Apples: An Integrated Approach to Study Abroad Program Assessment,” International Education Forum, 17 no. 2 (1997): 97-109.
In my opinion, it is a flawed research design to compare study abroad programs without calling attention to the difference between the programs. Study abroad programs share some characteristics but there are huge differences between programs. Can we really compare the student experiences on a six to twelve month homestay immersion program in China with courses taught in Chinese by local faculty/instructors to the student experiences of a three to six month program in Spain with courses taught in English by home institution faculty in our research/assessment activities?
There is not a clear set of categories that allow us to relate study abroad programs. Other research and work has been done in this area, most notably the work Lilli Engle and John Engle on study abroad levels and classification of program types, but nothing is currently being utilized in the field and research.
A question that comes to my mind when I read research studies on study abroad is: How do the factors that affect change relate across study abroad programs?
What are your thoughts on this?
Previously posted to IHEC Blog on January 11, 2010