Study Abroad: The Experience of American Undergraduates

Study Abroad: The Experience of American Undergraduates

Study Abroad: The Experience of American Undergraduates

Study Abroad: The Experience of American Undergraduates

Synopsis

Distilling the findings of a long-term evaluation project, this work is the first to provide systematic, comprehensive documentation of the impact of overseas study programs on American undergraduates. The study focuses on the acquisition of foreign language proficiency, knowledge of foreign cultures and attitudes toward them, concern with international issues, attitudes towards their own country, and career objectives and accomplishments. The authors examine the implications of their findings in the context of our times and society and recommended some new policy directions for making overseas study programs more effective in the years ahead.

Excerpt

The number of American undergraduates who study abroad has increased significantly in the last decade. More and more students believe that a study abroad experience will make an important difference in obtaining a job after completing their studies and in pursuing internationally related careers. Many seek an overseas experience for personal enrichment and development. Faculty members and senior administrators in American colleges and universities increasingly recognize that study abroad and exchanges can make a major contribution to students' knowledge of other countries and cultures and their foreign language proficiency.

In an interdependent world, study abroad is thought to be an important vehicle for producing an internationally aware and concerned citizenry. It may also develop the cross-cultural skills and knowledge that are needed to enhance the global competitiveness of American business and the effectiveness of the United States in its relations with other nations. In the widespread concern to reassess general education and liberal education, some institutions are giving priority to study abroad on the assumption that it may contribute to achieving such educational goals as expanded analytic abilities, awareness of cultural diversity, and the capacity to deal with ambiguity.

Despite widely held convictions and assumptions on study abroad, little hard data and comprehensive research have documented the actual contribution that it makes to students and their educational development. Little is known about the conditions under which students profit most from study abroad and in what ways. The Study Abroad Evaluation Project (SAEP), the subject of this volume, was launched in 1982 in order to undertake the kind of systematic and . . .

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