Thursday, January 28, 2010

How can we Establish a National Longitudinal Survey on Study Abroad in the United States?

This question has been on my mind for several years and I thought I would post some of my random thoughts on this topic to IHEC Blog. My interest in a national longitdinal study abroad survey dates back to the Roundtable for International Education Researchers held by the American Council on Education (after the 2004 NAFSA conference in Baltimore) that I was invited to participate in. I was excited because I found myself on a list of invitees of some of the best higher education and international education scholars around and I was asked to present a brief overview to the group of scholars on what research is needed to promote better practice and to assist practitioners in the field.

One of the scholars invited to the Roundtable but was unable to attend was George Kuh from the School of Education at Indiana University. If you don't who George Kuh is you might know of his work on the NSSE: National Survey of Student Engagement (he founded NSSE). I was hoping to engage Mr. Kuh in a discussion on the feasibility of such a similar study on study abroad in the United States and to generate ideas to move forward on this. I, of course, was disapointed that I was not able to meet him.

So here we are six years later and the idea of a national longitudinal survey on study abroad continues to enter my mind from time to time. The topic comes up from time to time in discussions I have with colleagues at conferences but I don't hear more talk about this on a national level. We, of course, have the Open Doors Report on International Educational Exchange which I think is a great data collection effort but what I'm thinking about is different. This national longitudinal study on study abroad is only part of a much larger operation I dream about and what some of us have referred to as a Clearinghouse on Sudy Abroad and what inspired me to start collecting literature for my "Bury Book International Education Library & Archive".

Some of the questions that come to my mind as I type this include:

- How do we go about starting such a study?

- How much would this all cost?
- Where would be the home base for such a study?

- Is such a study even needed for the field of study abroad in the U.S. and, if so, what data do we want to collect?

- How can I start/contribute to this effort with a full-time job and a dissertation to write?

I'm curious what other IHEC Blog readers think about this?

Photo credit: Jamiesrabbits

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