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Evaluating A Short Term, First Year Study Abroad Program For Engineering And Business Undergraduates: The Impact On The Student Learning Experience

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2009 Annual Conference & Exposition


Austin, Texas

Publication Date

June 14, 2009

Start Date

June 14, 2009

End Date

June 17, 2009



Conference Session

International Study Abroad Programs

Tagged Division


Page Count


Page Numbers

14.588.1 - 14.588.12



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Paper Authors


Kristine Lalley Univerity of Pittsburgh

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Kristine Lalley is the director of international engineering initiatives at the Swanson School of Engineering at the University of Pittsburgh. She designs international education programs for undergraduate engineering students in collaboration with engineering faculty. Prior to her position at the University of Pittsburgh, she was an instructor and adviser in the College of Engineering at the Pennsylvania State University.

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Josephine Olson University of Pittsburgh

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Josephine Olson, professor of business administration at the University of Pittsburgh, teaches courses in managerial economics and international economics, and has conducted study trips to Europe and South America. She is director of the International Business Center and an associate of The Center for Latin American Studies, the European Union Center, the Center for Russian and East European Studies, the Asian Studies Center, and the Global Studies Program. She was secretary of the University Senate from 2002 to 2005. From 1979 to 1983 she was director of MBA Programs and from 1996 to 2001 she served as associate dean. Prior to coming to the University of Pittsburgh, she was on the faculty of Bernard M. Baruch College, City University of New York.

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Brant Hawk University of Pittsburgh

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Brant Hawk is a senior undergraduate student in the College of Business Administration and the College of Arts and Sciences at the University of Pittsburgh.

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NOTE: The first page of text has been automatically extracted and included below in lieu of an abstract

Evaluating a short-term, first-year study abroad program for engineering and business undergraduates: The impact on the student learning experience


This paper presents findings from a study of engineering and business students at a large public research university, who during their first year of studies had participated in a short term study abroad program in 2005 or 2006. The intent of the study is twofold: 1) to determine if the program is meeting its goals of influencing participants to pursue additional study abroad opportunities later in their college career, inspiring students to further study foreign language and culture, and encouraging students to become involved in additional international activities; and 2) to assess learning outcomes of the participants two to three years after the time of participation in the short term education abroad program.

Quantitative and qualitative data were collected in the study, and are presented in this paper. The researchers provide an analysis of both the quantitative and qualitative data, and discuss implications of the results.


Incorporating an international experience into engineering and business undergraduate education is becoming an increasingly common practice. Although the number of engineering students who study abroad in the U.S. is significantly smaller than the number of business students who study abroad, both disciplines recognize the benefits of having students include an international experience as part of their education. For the first time in nine years, the percentage of U.S. students studying abroad who are engineers increased from a flat 2.9% of the total to 3.1% of the total 1in 2007. Although this is a small increase, it points to progress being made in the efforts to have more engineering students study abroad.

The University of Pittsburgh developed a short term study abroad program for first year students from both the Swanson School of Engineering (SSOE) and the College of Business Administration (CBA). The rationale for bringing engineering and business students together is that these constituencies will inevitably work together as full time employees, and thus should learn how to interact on teams at an early stage of their academic development. Moreover, most engineering and business students will work internationally and therefore should have an early educational experience in an international context that is relevant to both their academic and career development.

Study abroad programs for first year students present a unique set of challenges. Because these students typically have not yet developed content-specific knowledge in a particular field of study, programs must take into account that participants have a less-developed knowledge base about global issues, especially about global engineering and business practices. The University of Pittsburgh has developed this program with these constraints in mind; students are introduced to global engineering and business practices at a level at which they can relate their developing knowledge to what they experience during the program. Because the overseas portion of the program is short (two weeks), topics covered are very tightly focused and presented at an introductory level to students.

Although short term study abroad programs have become a more dominant model of study abroad in higher education in recent years2 and several studies have demonstrated the benefits of the short term program

Lalley, K., & Olson, J., & Hawk, B. (2009, June), Evaluating A Short Term, First Year Study Abroad Program For Engineering And Business Undergraduates: The Impact On The Student Learning Experience Paper presented at 2009 Annual Conference & Exposition, Austin, Texas. 10.18260/1-2--5242

ASEE holds the copyright on this document. It may be read by the public free of charge. Authors may archive their work on personal websites or in institutional repositories with the following citation: © 2009 American Society for Engineering Education. Other scholars may excerpt or quote from these materials with the same citation. When excerpting or quoting from Conference Proceedings, authors should, in addition to noting the ASEE copyright, list all the original authors and their institutions and name the host city of the conference. - Last updated April 1, 2015