Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

An analysis of study abroad as a factor to increase student engagement and reduce dropouts in higher education institutions
by Di Maggio, Lily M., Ed.D., Saint Peter's University, 2016, 200; 10108237
Abstract (Summary)

Study abroad has been a part of the curricular and co-curricular programming of higher education since 1875. Yet, despite the long history, a literature search revealed that study abroad is the least examined of the high impact practices (HIPs) related to engagement theory. Further, despite its promise as a retention strategy, study abroad has never been fully explored as a solution to the retention ills of higher education. Therefore, using data from the 2011 National Survey of Student Engagement (NSSE), this study analyzed the engagement and retention value of higher education, principally through the use of MANOVAs and Mann-Whitney U tests. To learn more about the engagement practices of students who study abroad and elucidate learning style characteristics of study abroad participants, an analysis using Chi-square testing was conducted about students’ participation in study abroad, other voluntary high impact practices, and co-curricular activities. The results of the analysis illuminated that study abroad participants have a significant, impactful tendency to hyper-participate during and after their study abroad experience, suggesting an overall positive effect on the outcome variables. Students who studied abroad made significant gains in relation to Tinto’s construct of social integration; this was consistent across race/ethnicity, academic major, and gender factors. The students made different gains in retention, albeit to varying degrees, as measured by level of academic integration and positive feelings about institutional actions. Finally, students demonstrated engagement gains that were mostly significant; these differed by race/ethnicity, academic major, and gender. As a result of these findings, leaders in higher education should consider study abroad as a tool to help students socially integrate, increase their engagement, and, among certain student populations, increase retention. If study abroad were integrated as a part of the core curriculum, study abroad would stifle the high dropout rates currently plaguing American higher education.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Turi, David M.
Commitee: Smolin, Margaret, Tharp, Carla
School: Saint Peter's University
Department: Education
School Location: United States -- New Jersey
Source: DAI-A 77/10(E), Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Higher Education Administration, Educational leadership, Higher education
Keywords: Engagement, Ethnicity, Gender, Major, Retention, Study abroad
Publication Number: 10108237
ISBN: 978-1-339-71600-8
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