The Value of Study Abroad: Intended Outcome Goals and Evaluation Instruments of the High School Study Abroad Industry

Date of Graduation

Spring 2005


Master of Global Studies



Committee Chair

Beat Kernen


Thousands of high school students participate in study abroad and exchange programs each year. The organizations that arrange these programs market many positive impacts that students can expect to receive from their experience abroad. There is scant empirical evidence, however, to support these expectations. This project seeks to find out where organizations base their claims what instruments they use to evaluate the outcomes. This study is based upon the assumption that those aspects of study abroad that are valued will be evaluated. A discussion of two elements of study abroad, historical outcome goals and evaluation instruments, compose a framework for understanding the survey data presented later in the thesis. A survey of 77 high school study abroad organizations supplemented by personal interviews provided information about current practices and values. Findings show that the primary motivation for evaluation is to determine student satisfaction with the experience and to meet certification standards. A majority of respondents does not use both pre and post travel evaluation instruments. Findings indicate that student safety and enjoyment are the most widely assessed outcomes of study abroad. Therefore, an implication of this research is that respondents value these aspects more than advertised benefits. Cultural and academic outcomes receive far less attention from study abroad evaluations. Also implied in this study is the notion that study abroad organizations advertise impacts of international programs with litter empirical evidence to support their claims.


study abroad, evaluation instruments, outcome goals, international exchange, survey, expectations for study abroad

Subject Categories

International and Area Studies


© Jennifer L. Wiley