AMERICAN STUDY-ABROAD PROGRAMS IN GERMANY AND AUSTRIA: A COMPARISON OF OBJECTIVES AND PERCEIVED LEARNING OUTCOMES
Participation in study-abroad programs has become more and more prevalent in the last fifty years. This increase has created a greater need for research on the effects of study abroad. The objective of this study was to determine participant-perceived learning outcomes of study-abroad programs in Germany or Austria. These outcomes were centered on the social and cultural domain, language acquisition, and career influences. I also analyzed the objectives of the study-abroad programs to determine whether those aims were met. Seven established university programs with similar designs were used for this research. A total of 203 study-abroad alumni completed a carefully designed, online survey instrument. Survey questions asked participants to gauge the impact of the study-abroad experience on their language learning, cultural awareness, and career paths. Program literature from each university was analyzed, and interviews with program administration were conducted to designate the objectives of the programs. Results of the study showed that alumni reported increases in all three learning outcome domains. This perception, however, was strongest within the realm of personal and cultural development. While subjects recognized a degree of language acquisition, a feeling of missed language-learning opportunities emerged. Interestingly, participants did not indicate that gaining job marketability was a main goal for going abroad, and they, consequently, perceived a lower level of job marketability. The three main objectives of the university programs were language acquisition, personal development, and academic immersion. Over 80% of alumni felt a significant increase in their personal development, while 80.3% perceived a great deal of academic immersion, and 72% a significant increase in language acquisition. This study was a first step in objectively verifying the learning outcomes of study abroad. Recommendations for practice and improvement of programs were included as well as suggestions for further research.
School:Bowling Green State University
School Location:USA - Ohio
Source Type:Master's Thesis
Keywords:study abroad learning outcomes germany austria objectives perceived american programs effects of
Date of Publication:01/01/2007