Predictors of US college students’ participation in study abroad programs: A longitudinal study
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<ul><li><p>International Journal of Intercultural Relations</p><p>30 (2006) 507521</p><p>Predictors of US college students participation in</p><p>differed signicantly from those who did not in terms of concern about completing their major, study</p><p>ARTICLE IN PRESS</p><p>www.elsevier.com/locate/ijintrel</p><p>0147-1767/$ - see front matter r 2005 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.</p><p>doi:10.1016/j.ijintrel.2005.10.001</p><p>Corresponding author.</p><p>E-mail address: firstname.lastname@example.org (S.B. Goldstein).abroad expectations, ethnocentrism, prejudice, and foreign language interest. Study abroad</p><p>expectations and levels of ethnocentrism distinguished participants from nonparticipants in a binary</p><p>logistic regression analysis. These ndings suggest that participation in international study may be</p><p>facilitated in part by interventions that seek to modify expectations, reduce ethnocentrism and</p><p>prejudice, and help students understand the value of language study.</p><p>r 2005 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.</p><p>Keywords: Study abroad; Ethnocentrism; Prejudice; Language studystudy abroad programs: A longitudinal study</p><p>Susan B. Goldsteina,, Randi I. Kimb</p><p>aDepartment of Psychology, University of Redlands, 1200 E. Colton Ave., Redlands, CA 92373, USAbRhode Island College, USA</p><p>Received 22 June 2005; received in revised form 19 September 2005; accepted 1 October 2005</p><p>Abstract</p><p>This study was designed to identify variables that predict participation in study abroad programs.</p><p>A total of 179 undergraduates were followed through their 4-year college career. At year one,</p><p>students completed a survey packet that included measures of study abroad expectations,</p><p>ethnocentrism, prejudice, intercultural communication apprehension, language interest and</p><p>competence, intolerance of ambiguity, and academic and demographic variables. During the</p><p>students senior year, follow-up data was collected from the college registrars database regarding</p><p>participation in study abroad, including placement and duration. Students who studied abroad</p></li><li><p>ARTICLE IN PRESS1. Introduction</p><p>Despite the wealth of studies investigating the experiences of students who study abroad,little is known about the factors that impact the decision to participate in such programs.Empirical studies of student sojourners have focused almost exclusively on adjustment tothe host culture and difculties upon re-entry (Ward, Bochner, & Furnham, 2001), withinsufcient attention to the characteristics of students who study abroad as comparedwith those who remain in their home country. Research attempting to predict participa-tion in study abroad (e.g., Carlson, Burn, Useem, & Yachimowicz, 1990) hasdevoted much attention to student perceptions about the relevance of internationalstudy to academic and career goals. Carlson and colleagues (1990) reported that inaddition to interest in experiencing new cultures and continuing language study, USstudents were motivated to study abroad by the expectation that the experience wouldallow them to be more competitive in an increasingly diverse and globally oriented jobmarket. These students were signicantly more open with regard to career choice thanthose staying home and viewed study abroad as a critical factor in their careerdevelopment. In contrast, the nonparticipating students viewed study abroad asunnecessary or inappropriate for their major and expressed concern that study abroadwould delay their graduation.This link between academic/career orientation and participation in study abroad has</p><p>been cited by international education professionals to explain the consistent under-representation of male students and physical science and math majors in study abroadprograms (Institute of International Education, 2004). These explanations are based on theassumption that physical science and math majors have less exibility in their academicrequirements than do humanities and social science majors. The gender imbalance hasbeen attributed to the greater representation of female students in the humanities andsocial sciences as well as less rigid career expectations for women (Bloomeld, 2004; Hoffa,1998). The fact that these participation patterns have remained fairly stable over time(Institute of International Education, 2004) despite changes in the career orientation offemale students and the increasing emphasis on global interdependence across thecurriculum indicates a need to explore variables impacting study abroad participationbeyond academic and career concerns.The importance of identifying factors that impact participation in study abroad is</p><p>supported by several decades of research documenting the benets of such programs.These include enhanced cross-cultural skills and global understanding (Kitsantas, 2004;McCabe, 1994), increased foreign language competency (Opper, Teichler, & Carlson,1990) and international political concern (Carlson & Widaman, 1988), greater interest inthe arts, language, and history of countries outside of ones own (Carsello & Creaser,1976), and the ability to see members of different national groups as individuals ratherthan in association with nonpersonal attributes such as food or geographicalcharacteristics (Drews, Meyer, & Peregrine, 1996). By investigating factors inuencingparticipation in study abroad, we hoped to identify avenues for increasing access to thebenets of study abroad programs.In the initial phase of this research (Kim & Goldstein, 2005) we explored rst year</p><p>students expectations of study abroad. Findings indicated that intercultural variables,rather than academic or career goals, predicted positive expectations of study</p><p>S.B. Goldstein, R.I. Kim / International Journal of Intercultural Relations 30 (2006) 507521508abroad. Specically, foreign language interest, low ethnocentrism, and low intercultural</p></li><li><p>ARTICLE IN PRESScommunication apprehension were associated with more favorable expectations of studyabroad in rst year college students. The present study follows these students through theirsenior college year to determine whether intercultural variables and expectations impactactual participation in study abroad programs. It was our intent to identify earlydifferences between students who do and do not study abroad in order to determinewhether interculturally oriented interventions should be explored as a means to increaseparticipation in international programming.</p><p>1.1. Expectations of study abroad</p><p>Retrospective (Black & Gregersen, 1990) and longitudinal studies (Martin, Bradford, &Rohrlich, 1995; Rogers & Ward, 1993) indicate that expectations may play a signicantrole in determining sojourners evaluations of, and adaptation to, intercultural experiences.We suggest that expectations are also crucial to the initial decision to become a participantin a study abroad program. In this study, we focused specically on expectations regardingsocial and personal domains within the context of study abroad (e.g., gaining self-condence), rather than expectations of the sojourn itself (e.g., the ability to adjust to theclimate), because the majority of the rst year students surveyed had not yet been exposedto information on specic international programs. We predicted that more positiveexpectations of study abroad would result in a greater likelihood of participating in aninternational studies program.</p><p>1.2. Ethnocentrism</p><p>Neuliep and McCroskey (1997a, p. 385) identied ethnocentrism as one of the centralconcepts in understanding outgroup attitudes and intergroup relationsy Denitions ofethnocentrism focus on a universal tendency to evaluate other cultures using standardsfrom ones own value system. In one of the earliest denitions, Sumner (1906, p. 13)described ethnocentrism as the yview of things in which ones own group is the center ofeverything, and all others are scaled and rated with reference to it. Ethnocentrism maydiminish intercultural communication competence by reducing culture-specic andculture-general understanding (Wiseman, Hammer, & Nishida, 1989) and creatingmisperceptions about the behavior of culturally different individuals (Gudykunst &Kim, 1997). Neuliep (2002, p. 203) suggested that one result of ethnocentrism is thetendency to yintentionally circumvent communication with persons of differentcultures. In fact, Toal and McCroskey (2001) found ethnocentrism to be a signicantpredictor of apprehension about, and failure to use relational maintenance strategies in,interethnic relationships. Thus, it seems likely that greater ethnocentrism would beassociated with diminished interest in intercultural interaction and as a consequence, lowerparticipation in study abroad programs.</p><p>1.3. Intercultural communication apprehension</p><p>Communicating with culturally different individuals is a key component of the studyabroad experience. Neuliep and McCroskey (1997b) used the term interculturalcommunication apprehension to describe anxiety associated with real or anticipated</p><p>S.B. Goldstein, R.I. Kim / International Journal of Intercultural Relations 30 (2006) 507521 509interaction with others of different cultural backgrounds from oneself. Neuliep and Ryan</p></li><li><p>greater hostility toward and avoidance of outgroup member. A meta-analytic review</p><p>that higher levels of interest in foreign languages would be associated with participation in</p><p>ARTICLE IN PRESSstudy abroad.Language competence is a critical component of intercultural communication</p><p>competence (Chen & Starosta, 1996; Redmond & Bunyi, 1991; Sercu, 2002)and intercultural sensitivity (Olson & Kroeger, 2001), and has been found to beone predictor of successful cross-cultural adjustment (Ward & Kennedy, 1993).Hembroff and Rusz (1993), in their research on US students of color, identiedconcern about language difculties as one factor which may deter individualsfrom participating in study abroad programs. We suggest that individuals with greatercompetence in nonnative languages may be more inclined to participate in a study abroadconducted by Dovidio, Esses, Beach, and Gaertner (2003) supports the associationbetween prejudice and lack of willingness to engage in interracial contact. In terms ofintercultural communication, Spencer-Rodgers and McGovern (2002) reported that highlevels of prejudice are associated with more negative emotions regarding communicationwith international students. We expect that higher levels of prejudice will be associatedwith a desire to avoid intercultural interaction and thus, with lower participation in studyabroad programs.</p><p>1.5. Language interest and competence</p><p>Carlson et al. (1990) found study abroad participants differed from those who remainedat home in their desire to improve their foreign language ability. Hembroff and Rusz(1993) reported that interest in foreign languages is associated with attending internationalprograms on campus and discussing international issues inside and outside of theclassroom. We suggest that interest in foreign languages may be additionally linked withintergroup attitudes in terms of interest in and respect for other cultures. Thus, we predict(1998) suggested that the novelty and dissimilarity associated with intercultural contactsituations creates signicant potential for stress and anxiety. Intercultural communicationapprehension consistently correlates with ethnocentrism (Lin & Rancer, 2003; Neuliep &McCroskey, 1997b). Lin and Rancer (2003) also found intercultural communicationapprehension to be inversely correlated with a measure of intercultural willingness-to-communicate. It seems, then, that individuals with a high level of interculturalcommunication apprehension would be more likely to avoid participating in a studyabroad experience.</p><p>1.4. Prejudice</p><p>Schneider (2004, p. 27) dened prejudice as ythe set of affective reactions we havetoward people as a function of their category memberships. Research has consistentlyindicated that prejudice impacts expectancies about intergroup interaction and tends tolead to avoidance of such interactions (Fiske, 2002). Plant and Devine (2003) suggestedthat a lack of positive previous experiences with outgroup members creates negativeexpectancies about interracial interactions, which result in intergroup anxiety and thus</p><p>S.B. Goldstein, R.I. Kim / International Journal of Intercultural Relations 30 (2006) 507521510experience.</p></li><li><p>ARTICLE IN PRESS1.6. Intolerance of ambiguity</p><p>Budner (1962) dened intolerance of ambiguity as a tendency to perceive ambiguoussituations as a source of threat. Tolerance for ambiguity is consistently reported to be acorrelate of favorable intergroup attitudes and support for diversity programs (Chen &Hooijberg, 2000; Sinha & Hassan, 1975; Strauss, Connerley, & Ammermann, 2003) and acomponent of intercultural competence and adaptation (Cui & Awa, 1992; Leong &Ward,2000). Neuliep and Ryan (1998) found that the anxiety associated with interacting with aculturally different individual creates greater uncertainty about ones own and onespartners future behavior. We thus predict that those with greater intolerance forambiguity would be less likely to study abroad.</p><p>1.7. Travel experience</p><p>The role of previous travel experience in the decision to study abroad is an inconsistentone, both theoretically and empirically. It is possible that travel experience may enhancestudents interest in cultural diversity and provide them with the skills needed to feelcompetent in a study abroad situation. Contradictorily, previous travel that results in agreater awareness of cultural differences and the potential for intercultural miscommu-nication may actually create more anxiety about intercultural interaction and decreaseinterest in study abroad.Unfortunately, the relationship between travel experience and participation in study</p><p>abroad remains unclear due to largely inconsistent empirical ndings on this topic. Tosome extent, prior research has indicated that previous travel experience was not apredictor of study abroad participation (Carlson et al., 1990), or was even inverselycorrelated with students participation (Hembroff & Rusz, 1993). Yet in other studies,travel experience was found to be associated with study abroad (Opper et al., 1990) as wellas sojourners greater perceived intercultural competence (Martin, 1987). Thus, weincluded previous travel experience as an exploratory variable in the present study.</p><p>1.8. Hypotheses</p><p>Based on the rationales provided above, we hypothesized that participation in studyabroad would be associated with favorable expectations of study abroad, lower levels ofethnocentrism, intercultural communication apprehension, prejudice, and ambiguityintolerance, as well as higher levels of language interest and competence. Finally, in anexploratory analysis, we investigated the relationship between previous travel experienceand participation in study abroad.</p><p>2. Method</p><p>2.1. Participants</p><p>Questionnaires were administered to 282 rst year undergraduates at a small liberal artscollege in the southwestern United States. Of these students, 248 volunteered their studentID numbers to allow for follow-up. By their senior year, 179 (72%) of these...</p></li></ul>
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