Experiential Study Abroad:
Student Learning Assessment and
Linda Goff, Executive Director, National Society for
James Beighle, Director of Admissions, SIT Study Abroad
Experiential Study Abroad
Overview of Experiential Education
Experiential Education in the Study Abroad Context
Assessing Student Learning
Course Credit and Credit Transfer
What is Experiential Education?
Experience ≠ Education
Critical Analysis and Reflection are
required to make experiences educational
It is a process of learning
The Experiential Learning Cycle
Experiential Education in the
Context of Study Abroad
“. . . involves ‘carefully chosen experiences
supported by reflection, critical analysis,
and synthesis,’ which are ‘structured to
require the learner to take initiative, make
decisions, and be accountable for the
- Lutterman-Aguilar and Gringerich (2002) quoting from Itin (1999)
SIT Study Abroad: The Multicultural
Society in Melbourne, Australia
From the (42 page) syllabus and Academic Director Bill
“If you were expecting a semester of 100% out-of class
activities and venues, I fear you will be disappointed. On
the other hand, if you anticipate a semester in which
diverse settings for learning are built upon a rigorous
counterpoint of lectures, readings and other
assignments, then we trust that you will find the
semester to be everything you had hoped.…”
Opportunities to integrate readings, lectures
and experiences through reflection, critical
analysis, and synthesis:
– Written Assignments
– Group and Individual Projects
Examples of Structured
Experiences in Study Abroad
Academic Structure of
Experiential Education Abroad
Traditional coursework with internship
component, service learning, etc.
Full semester internship with
processing/review sessions during term
Straight field/independent research
SIT Study Abroad Academic Structure
SIT Study Abroad – 4 courses – language,
thematic seminar, field study seminar and
independent study project
Out of class activities designed to complement
lectures of the week
Individual and group projects based on primary
sources – student driven
Course/semester designed to place
responsibility on students for learning
SIT Study Abroad
Fieldbooks, journals, etc.
Directed writings and
Written papers and exams
Attendance and participation
Assessing Student Learning on
Experiential Education Programs
Measuring achievement of stated goals
Grading the products of the processing stages
(esp. the conceptualization or “what does this
SIT Study Abroad
Class Hour Calculation
Semester hour system
4 credits = 60 contact hours
Lecture (tutorials, synthesis) format – 1
hour = 1 contact hour
Field excursions, organizational briefings,
museum visits – 2 “real” hours = 1 contact
SIT Study Abroad Transcripts
Courses established pre-program
Course codes developed through systematic
Semester hours/grading guidelines along
Access to supporting course materials
Experiential Study Abroad: Does it
Work at your Institution?
Important Issues & Questions:
How does Study Abroad Fit Within the Home
How Does Experiential Learning Fit Within the
Home Campus Curriculum?
Is Either One A Requirement or An Elective?
What Does the College/University Catalogue
Is it specific or somewhat ambiguous?
Transferring Credit to the Home Institution
CREDIT OR NON-CREDIT BEARING?
Grade or P/F Basis?
Grades Computed Into the GPA, Or Only
as a Block of Credits?
Credit Bearing Internships & Service-
How many Credits = Hours at Site Placement?
• Is it in the Catalogue?
• If not:
1 credit = total 40 hours at supervised site
3 credits= total 120 hours
6 credits= total 240 hours
9 credits= total 360 hours
12 credits= total 480 hours
Home School Credit Approval
Who’s Responsible for What?
Roles of Responsibility Vary with Size and
Organization of Institution
Identification of and Roles of Key Decision-
makers: Is it?
• The Registrar
• The VPAA/AVPAA/School Dean
• Department Chair
• Study Abroad Office
• Experiential Education/Internship Office
• Combination of A,B, or C; OR
C,D, but not A?
Critical Relationships: A Student Centered
What are the Relationships?
Who are the Key Players?
Study Abroad Office of the Faculty Department Academic Student Affairs/
Office Registrar Advisor Chair Dean's Office Life Dean
Keys to Making Experiential Learning
Work: The Ideal World
• Good Academic Advising
• Pre-Departure Approval of ALL Study Abroad
Credits including Experiential Learning
• Apples ≠ Apples
• Apples = Pears, sometimes!
• There is no ‘Just so Story’
• Tylenol in the lower right hand corner or your
Sources of Distress & Heartburn
• No Prior Course/Credit Registration
• Can I Get Credit Questions?
• Insufficient Number of Site Placement Hours =
Number of Credits Registered for or Required
• Internship/Service-Learning Placement Crashes &
• “W” and “WF”issues
• Who has the final decision-making authority?
Experiential Education and Credit
“The core methodology of
experiential learning is designed to
promote a sound academic
agenda, where legitimate grades
can be given, academic credit can
be awarded, and concrete
experiences are integrated into the
- Montrose (2002)
Is this your institution?
Lynne Montrose (2002) writes:
“ Many study abroad programs simply
transfer academic credits from one
traditional discipline-based educational
institution to another without intentionally
utilizing the international experience itself
as a basis for learning.…”
“…When the international experience
becomes the foundation for academic
credit and grades, then the tools of
experiential learning and practice may be
used to assess study abroad learning.”