Research on Effectiveness

Maximizing Study Abroad Through Language and Culture Strategies

The goal of this research was to field test the three guidebooks in the Maximizing Study Abroad series for study abroad students, program professionals, and language instructors. 

Research Overview

The overarching research question was: "To what degree and in what ways can a strategies-based approach to developing language skills and enhancing ability to function in a new culture, transmitted by means of a set of integrated study abroad guides for students, program professionals, and instructors respectively, promote language gain and cultural adaptation by students abroad?" To understand this question, the researchers examined in depth the following issues:

Students: Do study abroad students use the strategies in the Students' Guide in order to deal with the target language and culture? How, and in which contexts do they utilize these strategies? How frequently do they use the language and culture strategies?

Program Professionals: What are ways that program professionals use the Program Professionals' Guide in student orientation? How do they actually use the guide? How do they perceive the role of this guide in the student orientation process?

Language Instructors: In what ways do language instructors utilize the Instructors' Guide in their language teaching and advising?


Research Design

This research project was comprised of three separate studies:

Students: The Students' Guide study was designed to field test the Students' Guide and to explore the impact of a curricular intervention on study abroad students' second language acquisition, intercultural development, language learning strategies, and culture learning strategies. The study utilized an experimental design in which the sample of 86 undergraduate university students was randomly assigned to the treatment/experimental group or the control group. The students who participated in the study were all studying for one semester in French- or Spanish-speaking countries and had studied the target language (i.e., French or Spanish) for a minimum of 3 semesters prior to going abroad. The sample was made up of two cohorts of students, the first of which studied abroad during spring semester 2003 and the second during fall semester 2003.

Program Professionals: The purpose of this study was to field test the Program Professionals Guide (PPG) with a group of study abroad program professionals who used the PPG to help them prepare and implement pre-departure or on-site study abroad programming. The participants in the study included eight U.S.-based study abroad advisors from seven Minnesota and Wisconsin universities, one U.S. faculty member leading a group of students to Paris for one semester, and four in-country, on-site directors (one each from France, Ghana, India, and Spain).  

Language Instructors: This case study involved four experienced French and Spanish language instructors who used the Language Instructors' Guide to plan and teach a language course. As with the other two parts of the Maximizing Study Abroad research project, the primary goal of this study was to field test the Language Instructors' Guide and to receive feedback from the instructors regarding usefulness of the Guide and how it could be improved.

Research Report

An extensive report on this research project is available as PDF file. The report describes the three research studies outlined above.

Cohen, A. D., Paige, R. M., Shively, R. L., Emert, H., & Hoff, J. (2005). Maximizing study abroad through language and culture strategies: Research on students, study abroad program professionals, and language instructors. Final Report to the International Research and Studies Program, Office of International Education, U.S. Department of Education. Minneapolis, MN: Center for Advanced Research on Language Acquisition, University of Minnesota. 

CARLA Mailing List Signup Contact CARLA CARLA Events Donate to CARLA CARLA on Facebook CARLA on YouTube Twitter
Center for Advanced Research on Language Acquisition (CARLA) • 140 University International Center • 331 - 17th Ave SE • Minneapolis, MN 55414