Destination anywhere? : the relationship between racial identity attitudes and study abroad choices in students of African descent

Colleen P. Larsen, School for International Training


Using the Racial Identity Attitude Scale (RIAS) as a framework, this research studied the relationship between the study abroad decisions made by students of African descent and their racial identity attitudes. Specifically, 38 students of African descent participated in a questionnaire survey at one Connecticut public university. Participants were given a "Study Abroad and Social Attitude Questionnaire" consisting of 14 questions regarding geographic and length of international study program duration preferences, in addition to the 50 question RIAS-Long Form in order to evaluate the students' self-perceptions about race. Results suggest that racial identity does play a role in determining the geographic destinations among students of African descent. However, little evidence was found through this study to demonstrate a link between racial identity attitudes and program duration. Recommendations for international educators working to diversify study abroad program offerings, as well as those working with students of African descent are also discussed.