Assessing the Impact of Study Abroad Experiences on Global Competence
Abstract: Study Abroad experiences serve as a High-Impact Practice (HIP) fostering student growth (Kuh, 2008). One component of desired student growth is global competence. Hunter (2018) defines global competence as “Having flexible, respectful attitudes, including self-perspective, and applying knowledge of the historical, geographic, and societal factors that influence cultures in order to effectively interact and build relationships with people around the world”. In 2015/16, over 320,000 students in the United States utilized study abroad offerings to gain academic credit (UNESCO, 2017). This study assess the role in which variations among trip length, size of the traveling group, destination, and course subject of study abroad courses influences student global competence growth. The Global Competence Aptitude Assessment (GCAA) serves as an assessment of student growth from study abroad experiences. The GCAA model is an instrument used to capture an individual’s capacities of global knowledge, skills, attitudes and experiences through eight dimensions divided into two major areas of competence – internal readiness, consisting of self-awareness, open-mindedness, attentiveness to diversity, and risk taking; and external readiness, consisting of historical perspective, global awareness, intercultural capability, and collaboration across cultures. In this current study (n=312) completed the GCAA, pre and post studying abroad.
These results provide insight into factors that potentially affect the development of global competency when studying abroad. The diverse factors associated with study abroad trips displayed varying effects. Overall study abroad trips resulted in a positive effect on student growth and global competence. This information serves as a resource to faculty directors in planning future study abroad experiences. The results also assist in supporting the promotion of study abroad programs as an effective high-impact practice.
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