Differences in self-efficacy and global-mindedness between short-term and semester-long study abroad participants of selected Christian universities.
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Kehl, Kevin L.
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It has been suggested that the human experience is an increasingly globalized one in which people have multiple cross-cultural exchanges or interactions. Given the growing the global interdependence and awareness of common problems facing humanity, many educational leaders have advocated for the internationalization of higher education. Student participation in a study abroad program is a common strategy employed to meet this objective. Educational leaders and decision makers are faced with the difficult task of balancing competing programs as stewards of institutional and human capital in an environment of limited resources. This common, yet special challenge, calls us to find an objective means of evaluating the effectiveness of study abroad programs. The calls, for internationalizing university curricula come from within the academy as well as from the increased student demand for international experiences, are being answered in the affirmative as seen in the recent growth of student participation in study abroad programs. Traditionally, study abroad has been thought of as an experience that requires significant interaction with a host culture often consisting of a semester of year in length. Yet one of the areas of greatest growth has been increased participation in short programs, usually consisting of 8 weeks or less. While different program types, length, and objectives vary from institution to institution, in general, it is agreed that internationalizing higher education should help students prepare for living in the 21st century. Two foundational constructs often cited as necessary components of this preparations include global-mindedness and self-efficacy. The purpose of this study was to determine the differences in outcomes of study abroad length and participation on general self-efficacy, and attitudes reflecting global-mindedness of students at three private Christian universities. This study sought to examine the differences between students who had participated for a semester with students who had participated in a short-term program consisting of 8 weeks or less as well as students who intended to attend study abroad prior to their actual participation. Findings and recommendations reflect the context of the current climate of increasing pressures on university budgets and calls to more acurately measure curricular and co-curricular outcomes.