Assessing Student Learning in Study-Abroad Programs : a Conceptual Framework and Methodology for Assessing Student Learning in Study-Abroad Programs.

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Educational Assessment, Evaluation, and Research | Educational Psychology | International and Comparative Education


Conventional wisdom dictates that international education promotes student development and the acquisition of worthwhile knowledge, skills, and attitudes. Accrediting agencies, however, demand concrete evidence to substantiate such claims. This article describes the development of a conceptual frame work and methodology for the academic assessment of student learning in study-abroad programs with reference to knowledge acquisition, skills acquisition, attitudinal development, and social development. Conceptually, the framework is derived from the developmental theory of Erik Erikson and the tax onomies of educational objectives developed by Benjamin Bloom and his associates. Methodologically focus groups are employed to generate assessment data, in a procedure akin to small-group instructional diagnosis (SGID). Based on data collected in two focus groups conducted as a pilot study, more narrowly circumscribed coding categories were constructed within the broader domains of cognitive learning, behavioral skills acquisition, affective learning, and social development. The responses of students in the two pilot groups suggest that educational gains in study-abroad programs occur primarily in the affective and social domains of learning, including values clarification, attitude change, personal development, and social maturity.