Integrating Undergraduate Research and Study Abroad: Students’ Perceptions on the Effects of Undergraduate Research Abroad on Student Development

Degree Name

MA in International Education

First Advisor

William Hoffa


Preparing students to succeed in today’s increasingly global and competitive world is a declared objective of many colleges and universities in the U.S. However, the disconnect between higher education and the preparation of undergraduate students to succeed professionally still remains. To address this issue, an increasing number of colleges and universities have created opportunities for more integrative learning, including opportunities to participate in undergraduate research and study abroad programs.

A review of literature shows that although the benefits of students’ participation in study abroad programs and undergraduate research projects have been discussed in a number of publications, the integration of undergraduate research and study abroad and its effects on students’ development and vocational choices still remains unexplored territory. The objective of this paper is to examine the effects of U.S. undergraduate students’ participation in undergraduate research abroad on their skill development and subsequent career and educational choices. Self-reported data from undergraduate students who have participated in the independent study (research) project of an SIT Study Abroad program were analyzed.

The results of this study emphasize that the skills students were able to gain during the program had an overall positive, and in many cases long-lasting effect on their future endeavors. Undergoing changes in the way students view themselves within an intercultural context and the resulting identity development and clarification of values and goals clearly contributes to the overall development of the student along Chickering’s seven vectors. Based on the results of this study, it can be argued that this development can be accelerated through participation in a study abroad program that fosters self-directed learning.


International and Comparative Education

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