Study Abroad Outcomes Assessment: A Community College Case Study

Study Abroad Outcomes Assessment: A Community College Case Study

Dawn R. Wood (Kirkwood Community College, USA)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-6252-8.ch005

Abstract

The purpose of this chapter is to provide an overview of the literature relevant to outcomes assessment as it pertains to community college study abroad and to provide a case study of Kirkwood Community College's recent project developing institution-specific study abroad learning outcomes. The subsequent outcomes assessment conducted will be discussed along with conclusions from the process and the data gathered. This case study will illustrate how one community college developed student learning outcomes specific to its environment and a unique “home-grown” assessment model for assessing those outcomes comprehensively across all programs. The ability to engage in dialogue at all levels of the institution and speak the language of assessment has provided opportunities for unique improvements and the furthering of global learning goals.
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Introduction

In today’s higher education environment, the development and assessment of study abroad learning outcomes is undoubtedly crucial to improving study abroad program success and integrating global learning into the overall learning outcomes of higher education institutions. Given the focus on outcomes assessment at community colleges (Nunley, Beers & Manning, 2011; Jenkins, Lahr, Fink, & Ganga, 2018), the development and implementation of a quality outcomes assessment method specifically for study abroad is especially necessary. There is no doubt that anecdotal evidence of life-changing experiences through study abroad will continue to be imperative to sharing the story of study abroad impact. The importance of collecting these stories through an empirical method and integrating the process into the community college structure is critical. Outcomes assessment provides complementary tools and additional qualitative as well as quantitative information relevant to institutions and institutional stakeholders’ communities.

According to NAFSA International Education Professionals Core Competencies (2017), intercultural communication is a cross-cutting core competency in the profession of international education. This intercultural communication competency allows international education professionals to “adapt to other cultural norms when appropriate.” Many international education professionals have successfully traveled and/or lived in other cultures around the world to further their competency in intercultural adaptation. These same international education professionals leading internationalization efforts at community colleges operate within the larger context of a higher education institution. As with any institution, a certain organizational culture exists. The culture of the community college includes an “assessment culture” in which international educators must learn to adapt and operate.

It is time for international education professionals to step up, adapt and apply their intercultural skills and core competencies to ensure global learning occupies a prioritized spot in the assessment culture of higher education. Start by recognizing the organizational culture of one’s own institution, learning the language of outcomes assessment, dialoguing with college faculty and leaders about assessment methodology, and ensuring global learning is at the table when the assessment dialogue occurs. By learning the language and culture of outcomes assessment, international educators have the opportunity to weave global learning into the fabric of the community college and create more opportunity for the institutionalization of global learning.

The first part of this chapter will provide an overview of the literature and research that has been conducted relevant to outcomes assessment in general with a focus specifically on community colleges and study abroad. The review of the literature will show that very little empirical research is available in this area specific to study abroad outcomes assessment at community colleges and that more case studies and data are needed to directly address the unique environment and culture of the community college.

The second part of this chapter will present a case study of Kirkwood Community College’s development of study abroad learning outcomes. The subsequent outcomes assessment conducted will be discussed along with conclusions from the process and the data gathered. This case study will illustrate how one community college developed student learning outcomes specific to its environment and a unique “home-grown” assessment model for assessing those outcomes comprehensively across all programs. The ability to engage in dialogue at all levels of the institution and speak the language of assessment has provided opportunities for unique improvements and the furthering of global learning goals.

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