U.S. higher education institutions, professionals in the field of international education exchange, and the federal government recognize the importance of a study abroad experience for American undergraduate students. While the total number of U.S. undergraduate students studying abroad has continually increased since the 1980s, the number of participating students of color remains low. The purpose of this study is to move beyond the barriers and outcomes of study abroad, and focus on those students of color who have made the decision to participate and the factors that influenced their decision. The barriers between applicants and non-applicants are also explored in order to recognize similar or different factors between the two groups.
Using Fishbein and Ajzen's (1970) theory of reasoned action, this study seeks to address the personal, social, and institutional factors positively influencing students of color to decide to study abroad; how the factors differ by demographics; and the barriers applicants and non-applicants encounter in their decision.
Using a mixed methods approach this study focuses on two groups of students. The first group consisted of undergraduate students of color who had recently been accepted to a study abroad program through the University of California, San Diego in 2008. The second group included all sophomores and above, regardless of race, who had decided not to apply for a study abroad program.
The personal and social factors were found to be the primary factors influencing the student's decision to apply. Finances and academics were the main barriers students in both groups faced in their decision. Despite these barriers and family or cultural resistance, the students in the first group overcame the obstacles through information seeking, use of external messengers, personal determination, and internal drive in deciding to participate in study abroad.
University of Minnesota Ph.D. dissertation. August 2009. Major: Educational Policy and Administration. Advisor: Gerald W. Fry. 1 computer file (PDF); ix, 208 pages, appendices A-F.
Factors influencing the decision to study abroad for students of color: moving beyond the barriers..
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