Growth and Meaning through Study Abroad: Enhanced Perspectives with Mixed Methods

Tanja Seifen, Yolanda Rodriguez, Laura Johnson

Abstract


International experiences are touted as enhancing cultural and global competencies in college graduates, however, findings are mixed depending on outcomes assessed and methods used. This study sought to examine students’ international experience by looking at purpose and meaning, and intercultural and civic skills. A total 123 students completed self-report measures and open-ended questions before and after studying abroad. Quantitative analysis of data indicated no statistically significant changes, except for a decrease in search for meaning. Qualitative data suggested an increase in personal growth and uncertainty about how to interpret the international experience, and a decrease in language gain and host culture knowledge. Findings indicate a gap between quantitative and qualitative assessment, suggesting that open-ended questions give students a better chance to reflect on their personal experiences. More research is needed in order to investigate meaning and growth through study abroad.


Keywords


international education; meaning; student growth; mixed methods

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References


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