Friday, July 10, 2009

Growth of Research on U.S. Students Abroad

One of my main interests/activities in the field of international education has been compiling annotated bibliographies on a variety of topics and primarily on U.S. students studying abroad. All of my bibliographies are available on my consulting website here. Five years ago I decided to count and chart the number of research based articles, reports, books and presentations per decade found on the three main annotated bibliographies focusing on research on U.S. students abroad which you can access here. The following chart shows the steady increase in research based literature on U.S. students abroad from 1950 through 2003.

I’m slowly working on updates to my bibliography work in this area as well as creating new bibliographies including one on international education and public diplomacy/soft power. I’m also researching and searching for more international education literature from the late 1800’s up to the start of World War II. I’m finding some very interesting pieces from this time period and it is largely unknown to both colleagues and researchers in the field that I communicate with. Additionally, I believe that there are still many pieces of literature from the 1950’s and 1960’s (and possibly into the 1970’s) that are waiting to be discovered. I plan to eventually update the chart above as I discover new resources but it will be in several years. For now, I stand by my review and count as documented in the chart above!

On a related note…back on July 24, 2008 I posted to IHEC Blog on what I believe to be the first research study on outcomes of study abroad conducted by Roxana Holden and published in 1934. Holden analyzed statistics and statements from alumni participants of the first ten years of the Junior Year Abroad programs. You can read more of my post entitled “First Research Study on Outcomes of Study Abroad” here.

If anyone knows of any older research or avenues I should pursue in my quest to locate historical literature on international education please contact me...I want to hear from you!

[1] Data for the chart was compiled from a review of the three main research bibliographies on study abroad (U.S. students). Weaver, Henry D. (Ed.). Research on U.S. Students Abroad: A Bibliography with Abstracts. (Council on International Educational Exchange; Education Abroad Program, University of California; Institute of International Education; and National Association of Foreign Student Affairs, 1989); Chao, Maureen. (Ed.) Research on U.S. Students Abroad, Volume II, A Bibliography with Abstracts 1989–2000. (NAFSA: Association of International Educators/SECUSSA (Section on U.S. Students Abroad) 2001); and, Comp, David. (Ed.). Research on U.S. Students Abroad, Volume III, 2001 to 2003 with Updates to the 1989 and Volume II Editions. (Loyola Marymount University, 2005).
[2] The 2000-2003 total includes research identified through May, 2003. A conservative estimate is that by the end of 2009 there may well be over 1,000 research-based articles, reports, books and presentations on U.S. study abroad.


  1. Interesting stuff, David. Have you looked into bilingual education policy in the U.S. circa the 1960s? Perceptions about bilingualism (cognitive benefits, e.g.) have changed quite a bit since then, and this might have influenced international education.

  2. @Molly ~ Thanks for your note. I haven't looked into bilingual education policy. I will check into it!

  3. The citation for the chart is from page 99 of the following:

    Comp, D., Vande Berg, M., Stephenson, S., Gladding, S., & Rhodes, G. (2007, March). Education Abroad Outcomes Assessment Literature and Resources. In M. Bolen (Ed.), Guide to Outcomes Assessment in Education Abroad, 97-135. Carlisle, PA: The Forum on Education Abroad/Frontiers: The Interdisciplinary Journal of Study Abroad.

  4. Thank you very much for the historical data and sourcing information regarding study abroad opportunities. I am presently continuing to research this area and the information has been helpful. I discovered an article which addressed study abroad from the community college perspective and realized there is a different level of involvement here in comparison to 4 year institutions. Would you happen to know about any opportunities for associates level students or for community colleges in terms of becoming involved in study abroad adventures? Also, the below source also has some historical data from the early 1900's forward on this area-perhaps it would be useful to you.


    Raby, R. L., & Valeau, E. J. (2007). Community college international education: Looking back to forecast the future. New Directions for Community Colleges, 2007(138), 5–14

  5. @canj ~ Many thanks for your comment and link to the Raby & Valeau article. I will check it out!

  6. David, hello. Thanks for your important work. I am searching for data as it relates to the affects of high school students and studying abroad, or even short international experiences. Are there resources available?

    I would like to see if there is evidence that experiences abroad affect high school graduation rates for under-resourced students as they do in colleges.

  7. Hi Jamie ~ Thanks for your message. The two bibliography/database resources I suggest searching are:

    All the best with your research!