International Educator - March/April 2013 - 20

IN Brief
Student Learning Abroad:
What Our Students Are Learning, What They’re
Not, and What We Can Do About It

BOOK NOTES

By Michael Vande Berg, R. Michael Paige, and Kris Hemming Lou
Reviewed by Martin Tillman

INTERNATIONAL EDUCATOR M A R + A P R . 13

S

20  

tudent Learning Abroad offers an
in-depth analysis and set of recommendations, backed by a summary
of applied research that education abroad
professionals, faculty, and senior administrators could adapt in reexamining the
perceived versus actual learning outcomes
of their education abroad programs. This
volume describes how different academic
institutions and nonprofit organizations
have developed approaches to education
abroad that seek to intentionally align
desired learning outcomes with their education abroad models.
For many years, the international education community has tried to address the
nettlesome issue of why the number of U.S.
undergraduate students studying abroad
remains low as a percentage of all students enrolled in higher education in the
United States. If increasing numbers was
tied solely to financing education abroad,
which has happened at Goucher College
in Baltimore, Maryland, numbers would
surely increase throughout the country.
But what if there is a more fundamental
academic issue to address that questions
long-held assumptions about the merits
and impact of study abroad? For those interested in such a reexamination, I highly
recommend Student Learning Abroad.
This book addresses the core issue facing faculty and administrators responsible
for assessing the impact of international
educational experience at their institution:
What did the student learn? The editors
state that despite growing evidence from
available research, administrators and
faculty have not acknowledged that “…a
dispassionate review of the evidence will

leave little room for doubt: Far too many
U.S. undergraduates are not learning and
developing (as a result of their participation in study abroad programs) in ways
that most members of our community
typically believed they did as recently as
a decade or two ago (my emphasis).”
While they question, at the outset, the
meaning [if not the accuracy] of student
statements—upon return home and to
campus—about how they have been
“transformed” or “changed” as a result of
their education abroad experience, the
editors do not dismiss them as without
meaning. They write, “The important
questions, though, are not about whether
students are learning anything or not;
they are about what students are learning, about how they are learning, and
about whether the process—the experience—of learning abroad is allowing them
to develop competencies they might not
have if they had stayed at home.” On this
point, the editors acknowledge that the
study abroad field has, for many decades,
maintained an uneasy coexistence of two
different narratives: the optimistic view
of those students claiming their overseas
experience taught them many “useful
things” and the other, that too many students were “not learning very well.”
The editors have brought together authors who discuss, in great detail, three
specific types of evidence to support the
above finding: (1) research findings on
study abroad; (2) insights from different
disciplines that offer “new understandings
about human learning and development;
and (3) six “concrete” examples of education abroad programs or courses that

“intervene” (a central tenet of the book is
how essential it is to design programs that
intentionally shape the learning outcomes
for students) in the learning process by
purposefully (my word) “applying the
interdisciplinary insights and research
findings” (i.e., found to most likely support student learning).
The book is organized around four
chapters that review recent research and
assumptions in the education abroad field;
review foundations of teaching and application of learning theory; discuss and describe
six academic and study abroad provider
initiatives (the American University Center
of Provence’s Experiment in Holistic Intervention, University of Minnesota-Twin
Cities online course, “Global Identity: Connecting Your International Experience to
Your Future,” a case study of intercultural
experiences on the Scholar Ship (no longer in operation), and the CIEE elective
credit-bearing Seminar on Living and
Learning Abroad, which illustrate methods
of intervening in student learning; and lastly,
present conclusions and “closing insights.”
In this brief space, I cannot do justice
to the book’s complex chapters discussing learning theory, which are framed
around three “master narratives.” They
are positivist, relativist, and experiential/
constructivist narratives that reflect the
evolution of the education abroad field
over the decades. The first focuses upon
student learning through experience
abroad in and of itself (e.g., the Grand
Tour metaphor applies). The second
focuses through deep immersion in another culture (with a more intentional
set of experiences to engage the student:



Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of International Educator - March/April 2013

International Educator - March/April 2013
Contents
From the Editors
Front Lines
In Brief
Emerging Giant
Local Goes Global
Accelerating Global Learning at Home and Abroad
Foreign Student Affairs
Partnering
In Focus
Intenational Educator Language Supplement
Contents
New Tools of the Trade
Intensive English Language
Intensive Foreign Language
International Educator - March/April 2013 - International Educator - March/April 2013
International Educator - March/April 2013 - Cover2
International Educator - March/April 2013 - Contents
International Educator - March/April 2013 - From the Editors
International Educator - March/April 2013 - 3
International Educator - March/April 2013 - Front Lines
International Educator - March/April 2013 - 5
International Educator - March/April 2013 - 6
International Educator - March/April 2013 - 7
International Educator - March/April 2013 - 8
International Educator - March/April 2013 - 9
International Educator - March/April 2013 - In Brief
International Educator - March/April 2013 - 11
International Educator - March/April 2013 - 12
International Educator - March/April 2013 - 13
International Educator - March/April 2013 - 14
International Educator - March/April 2013 - 15
International Educator - March/April 2013 - 16
International Educator - March/April 2013 - 17
International Educator - March/April 2013 - 18
International Educator - March/April 2013 - 19
International Educator - March/April 2013 - 20
International Educator - March/April 2013 - 21
International Educator - March/April 2013 - Emerging Giant
International Educator - March/April 2013 - 23
International Educator - March/April 2013 - 24
International Educator - March/April 2013 - 25
International Educator - March/April 2013 - 26
International Educator - March/April 2013 - 27
International Educator - March/April 2013 - 28
International Educator - March/April 2013 - 29
International Educator - March/April 2013 - 30
International Educator - March/April 2013 - 31
International Educator - March/April 2013 - Local Goes Global
International Educator - March/April 2013 - 33
International Educator - March/April 2013 - 34
International Educator - March/April 2013 - 35
International Educator - March/April 2013 - 36
International Educator - March/April 2013 - 37
International Educator - March/April 2013 - 38
International Educator - March/April 2013 - 39
International Educator - March/April 2013 - 40
International Educator - March/April 2013 - 41
International Educator - March/April 2013 - 42
International Educator - March/April 2013 - 43
International Educator - March/April 2013 - Accelerating Global Learning at Home and Abroad
International Educator - March/April 2013 - 45
International Educator - March/April 2013 - 46
International Educator - March/April 2013 - 47
International Educator - March/April 2013 - 48
International Educator - March/April 2013 - 49
International Educator - March/April 2013 - 50
International Educator - March/April 2013 - 51
International Educator - March/April 2013 - 52
International Educator - March/April 2013 - 53
International Educator - March/April 2013 - Foreign Student Affairs
International Educator - March/April 2013 - 55
International Educator - March/April 2013 - 56
International Educator - March/April 2013 - 57
International Educator - March/April 2013 - 58
International Educator - March/April 2013 - 59
International Educator - March/April 2013 - Partnering
International Educator - March/April 2013 - 61
International Educator - March/April 2013 - 62
International Educator - March/April 2013 - 63
International Educator - March/April 2013 - In Focus
International Educator - March/April 2013 - Cover3
International Educator - March/April 2013 - Cover4
International Educator - March/April 2013 - Intenational Educator Language Supplement
International Educator - March/April 2013 - SCover
International Educator - March/April 2013 - Contents
International Educator - March/April 2013 - New Tools of the Trade
International Educator - March/April 2013 - S3
International Educator - March/April 2013 - S4
International Educator - March/April 2013 - S5
International Educator - March/April 2013 - S6
International Educator - March/April 2013 - S7
International Educator - March/April 2013 - S8
International Educator - March/April 2013 - S9
International Educator - March/April 2013 - S10
International Educator - March/April 2013 - S11
International Educator - March/April 2013 - S12
International Educator - March/April 2013 - S13
International Educator - March/April 2013 - S14
International Educator - March/April 2013 - S15
International Educator - March/April 2013 - Intensive English Language
International Educator - March/April 2013 - S17
International Educator - March/April 2013 - Intensive Foreign Language
International Educator - March/April 2013 - S19
International Educator - March/April 2013 - S20
International Educator - March/April 2013 - SCover3
International Educator - March/April 2013 - SCover4
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