Persistence Profiles and Institutional Initiatives: Helping Students Become Ready for the World

Persistence Profiles and Institutional Initiatives: Helping Students Become Ready for the World

Sally J. McMillan (University of Tennessee, USA) and Cora D. Ripley (University of Tennessee, USA)
Copyright: © 2017 |Pages: 16
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-2145-7.ch017
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This chapter presents multiple ways of understanding who does and does not study abroad. The authors introduce the concept of persistence profiles as a way of understanding which students may struggle to find a way to study abroad. Positive outcomes were found for students from all persistence profiles in terms of the impact of study abroad on academic success and in developing mentoring relationships with faculty. The chapter also profiles both scholarship and small grant programs that can be instituted at relatively low cost to an institution and that can help students become Ready for the World. The authors suggest future directions for testing relationships between persistence profiles, learning outcomes, scholarship support, and small grant programs.
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To address the chapter objectives, it is important to understand who studies abroad, what students gain from that experience, and the linkages between study abroad and persistence to graduation. Following is a brief review of literature related to the population of students who study abroad, the benefits of the study abroad experience, and the importance of persistence to graduation.

A recent survey of the literature on who studies abroad (Twombly, Salisbury, Tumanut, & Klute, 2012) reported that socioeconomic status is one of the most important factors influencing a student’s decision to study abroad. Students from low-income families with low levels of parental education are far less likely to study abroad than are those from families with higher income and education levels. Students from elite private universities often think of study abroad as a normal part of the college experience. Lower-income students do not usually have the same expectation. Multiple studies have also looked at who does not study abroad and found that students of color, males, community college students, disabled students, students pursuing engineering and other professional degrees, students who plan on graduate study, and students who live with family while attending school are less likely to study abroad (Dessoff, 2006; Stroud, 2010)

Thomas (2013) notes that much of the problematizing of the study abroad population has been around issues of race rather than other student characteristics such as gender, socioeconomics, or field of study. Multiple variables such as human capital, precollege social and cultural capital, and the higher education institutional context have been used to understand differences in intent to study abroad for different racial groups (Salisbury, Paulsen, & Pascarella, 2011). Simon and Ainsworth (2012) found that race and socioeconomic background are tied to a complex set of factors that lead to low participation by non-white and low-income students. Student’s social networks and cultural capital as well as their ability to navigate institutional structures served as mechanisms for reproducing inequality in the university setting – particularly in the context of pursuing study abroad opportunities.

Most students who study abroad report that the experience had a positive impact on their personal development, academic commitment, intercultural development, and career development (Dwyer & Peters, 2016). Students who approach a study abroad experience with a sense of global wonderment were more likely to achieve desired outcomes such as global knowledge, open-mindedness, and attentiveness in interacting across difference (Engberg, Jourian, & Davidson, 2015). But students who study abroad do not always experience a shift in world view (Bloom & Miranda, 2015). And other high-impact educational practices such as undergraduate research, service learning, and internships have also been shown to increase intercultural effectiveness (Kilgo, Ezell Sheets, & Pascarella, 2015). The literature also suggests a linkage between study abroad and persistence to graduation (Kilgo et al., 2015; Kuh, 2008).

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