Education Abroad Research Topics

June 16, 2009 By: Bea Szekely and Sabine Klahr

In response to questions from graduate students and others who have inquired about possible data-related research topics, members of the Data Collection Working Group have put together the following list:

  • Outcomes of study abroad
  • An outcomes assessment of the real benefits derived from studying abroad as reported by students could be done in focus groups or in a survey format. Benefits could include: impact on post-graduate employability, impact on academic success, impact on social attitudes, intergroup behaviour patterns, etc.

  • Foreign language enrollment and study abroad
  • What types of study abroad programs are students participating in after what levels of language study on home campuses? How many students abroad take all course work in a foreign language, language course work in a foreign language and other English-taught courses, or all course work in English?

  • Study Abroad Program Types
  • How does study abroad in various countries correlate with program types: direct enrollment in post-secondary institutions, transnational course-based programs, transnational or freestanding research and field study, and internship programs?

    How do program types correlate with major fields of students abroad? with language study and use? with types of sending institutions?

  • Study abroad and Security Issues
  • How many students study abroad in countries for which the US Department of State has a current travel warning? What types of programs?

  • International student participation in study abroad
  • What countries are international students from who study abroad? where and what do they study?

  • Work Abroad
  • How do we begin to categorize, count and analyze work and service abroad by young Americans in a yet-to-be-determined number of years after graduation with a bachelor's degree? Can we correlate work abroad programs with study abroad programs? And/or work abroad country destinations with study abroad host countries?

  • Academic areas and study abroad
  • Do students take courses toward their majors while studying abroad, especially in the non-traditional academic areas among students who study abroad (engineering, education, mathematics, computer sciences, agriculture, etc.)? What study abroad programs offer courses in non-traditional academic areas? Do students change majors to an international field upon their return?

  • Do study abroad returnees seek international employment or employment with an international focus?
  • What are the effects of study abroad after their return career/employment choices and opportunities?

  • Decision Criteria
  • When (and how) do students first learn about study abroad opportunities? When do they make the decision to pursue the opportunity? What factors (major, home institution, year in school, family background, age, gender, etc.) have more/less influence on their decision to study abroad?

  • What makes certain destinations more popular than others with students?
  • Sample questions: Why do students choose very expensive programs, for example in Italy, over less expensive ones elsewhere that are just as suited to their studies? What is the attraction of Australia? Why is Austria not a common destination? etc.

  • Demographic diversity among study abroad participants
  • How does diversity of various types (e.g. gender or diversity) correlate with undergraduate major fields and study abroad destinations and with Carnegie types of sending institutions and regions of the United States? What types of programs do students with special needs utilize and why?