Study Abroad Works

Study Abroad Works - Academic Outcomes of Study Abroad In...

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Academic Outcomes of Study Abroad July 13, 2010 In 2000, researchers began an ambitious effort to document the academic 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. “The skeptics of study abroad have always made the argument that study abroad is a distraction from the business of getting educated, so you can enter the economy and become a contributing member of society,” said Don Rubin, professor emeritus of speech communication and language education at the University of Georgia and research director for GLOSSARI -- the Georgia Learning Outcomes of Students Studying Abroad Research Initiative. “I think if there’s one take-home message from this research as a whole it is that study abroad does not undermine educational outcomes, it doesn’t undermine graduation rate, it doesn’t undermine final semester GPA. It’s not a distraction. “At worst, it can have relatively little impact on some students’ educational careers. And at best it enhances the progress toward degree. It enhances the quality of learning as reflected in things like GPA.” The GLOSSARI project is of impressive scope and scale, and not every finding shows a positive impact of study abroad -- self-reported knowledge of world geography, for instance, actually decreased across time both for study abroad students and for a control group, and researchers found no significant difference in knowledge of global interdependence between the two sets of students. Rubin and Richard C. Sutton, director of the GLOSSARI project, executive director of international programs at Western Kentucky University, and formerly assistant vice chancellor for international programs at the University System of Georgia, presented these and other findings in a “final report” on the GLOSSARI project at the recent NAFSA: Association of International Educators conference in Kansas City. Among their findings: Graduation Rates and GPA: Researchers compared graduation rates and grade point averages for 19,109 study abroad students, from across the state system (which includes community colleges, research universities and institutions in between), with a control group of 17,903 students selected to match the institution, semester of study and class standing of the students who’d studied abroad. “What we’ve tried to do in this project is to be very, very careful about who we compare with study abroad students,” said Rubin. “There are all these arguments that say the reason why graduation rates are higher for study abroad students are they are of higher socioeconomic status, or they may be more industrious, or they
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Study Abroad Works - Academic Outcomes of Study Abroad In...

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