Assessing the Academic Benefit of Study Abroad

Teresa Cisneros-Donahue, Kathleen A. Krentler, Bruce Reinig, Karey Sabol


Study abroad is a growing phenomenon in higher education. Although such growth is typically lauded, efforts to
measure the impact of international experiences on student learning have been limited. This study assesses the
academic benefit of a study abroad program, offered by a U.S. university, with measures of self-reported learning.
Study abroad participants were tested before and after completing their program and results are compared to a
control group that did not study abroad. Study abroad students reported significantly greater knowledge than
stay-at-home students on two of five cognitive dimensions. Further, study abroad students reported greater
knowledge upon return than they did pre-departure on all five cognitive dimensions. The enhancements in
knowledge were not significantly affected by sex, major, or ethnicity. Results of the study offer support for the
value of study abroad in improving student perceptions of the learning experience. Implications for researchers
and practitioners are discussed including additional steps that could be taken for study abroad assessment.

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Journal of Education and Learning   ISSN 1927-5250 (Print)   ISSN 1927-5269 (Online)


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