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So What Did You Learn in London?

With assessment and accountability at the center of policy discussions in Washington and elsewhere, international educators emphasized an increased need for research on measurable study abroad outcomes and what particular program characteristics cause student learning gains at several sessions during this week’s annual NAFSA: Association of International Educators conference in Minneapolis.
“It is no longer a fringe activity,” with more than 200,000 American college students going abroad each year and new federal funding initiatives for international study, Richard C. Sutton, senior advisor for academic affairs and director of international programs for the University System of Georgia Board of Regents said Wednesday afternoon. “But that money will not be free. It will come at the price of accountability and assessment measures.”
In a session on “Changes That Occur Abroad,” Sutton highlighted Georgia’s systemwide research of study abroad outcomes, the Georgia Learning Outcomes of Students Studying Abroad Research Initiative (or GLOSSARI). The ambitious six-phase, six-year-old project covers a lot of ground, including:
1.Comparing learning outcomes of study abroad participants with those of their peers who stay stateside.
2.Tracking learning outcomes of study abroad participants by administering pre- and post-tests.
3.Comparing the experiences and learning of students taking a particular course abroad versus those taking that same course at home.
4.Performing a statistical analysis on graduation and persistence rates relative to study abroad participation.
5.Identifying and conducting case studies on study abroad programs that produce strong results in student learning.

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