Annual Report 2017-2018

The mission of Study Abroad at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock is:

  • for students to expand their educational experiences and intellectual perspectives by participating in a Study Abroad experience;
  • for students to actively participate in new cultures and experience critical, first-hand engagement with global challenges, which in turn, help them become effective and influential leaders in our global society; and
  • to engage the diverse student population to become intentional learners who have a heightened sense of global awareness.

The UA Little Rock Office of Study Abroad Values:

  • Affordability and Accessibility
  • Curricular Relevance and Academic Rigor
  • Experiential Learning
  • Excellence and Quality Service to all units, students, and faculty
  • Serving the needs for International Knowledge across UA Little Rock
  • Facilitating UA Little Rock's engagement with partners worldwide
  • Cultural Awareness and Respect for others

The Office of Study Abroad aspires to cultivate a climate of global awareness at UA Little Rock through the promotion of international educational experiences that are inclusive, affordable, and substantive. Our hope is that all UA Little Rock students will participate in an international experience before graduation.

1) Enhance recruitment and retention efforts to increase enrollment

  • 82 students participated in an international education experience from summer 2017 through spring 2018. UA Little Rock still has a high percentage of students who participate in faculty-led embedded trips, which is comparable with the national trend of students participating in short-term study abroad experiences.

2) Strengthen student-friendly operations and customer service

  • In June 2018, the Office of Study Abroad strategically restructured the program offerings available to the UA Little Rock student population. Based on student feedback, we went from 1,000 programs to 650 programs, including 5 partner institutions, to allow for an easier program selection for students.  In 2018-2019, staff will continue to work with departments on campus to have featured programs that have been curriculum mapped in advance to ensure that students have an easier time selecting and applying for study abroad.

3) Improve diversity and inclusion efforts to provide a safe and inclusive environment for students

  • The Office of Study Abroad works diligently with scholarship programs and departments on campus to ensure that the information about study abroad is being shared to the entire UA Little Rock student population. Staff regularly do presentations with the Chancellor's Leadership Corps, PEAW, and Orientation, and also participate in International Celebration Week.
  • In fall 2017, we added a privilege activity to pre-departure orientation so students could critically analyze their own behaviors before they traveled abroad. This allowed for students to have a more open mind and new perspective on how they could positively impact and integrate with their host culture on all types of international experiences.
  • The Director of Study Abroad is an active member of the Safe Zone Committee on campus.

4) Align financial and human resources to operate more effectively and efficiently

  • In Spring 2018, the Office of Study Abroad hired an Administrative Specialist III, therefore doubling the staff of the office.  This new will be essential in marketing, promoting, and recruiting for study abroad in the 2018-2019 academic year.
  • The Director of Study Abroad continues to be active in NAFSA and the Forum on Education Abroad. She presented a session on building collaborations for successful short-term study abroad experiences at the Arkansas State NAFSA Meeting in April 2018. In October 2018, the NAFSA Region 3 conference is being held in Little Rock, and both the Director and Study Abroad Assistant plan to volunteer and present at the conference.

5) Promote student development, engagement, and leadership

  • Financial assistance is the largest barrier keeping UA Little Rock students from studying abroad at a higher rate. The Office of Study Abroad will continue to offer the Trojan Travels Scholarship, which awards $5,00 annually to UA Little Rock students to study abroad, twenty one UA Little Rock students were awarded the Trojan Travels Scholarship this year, and will continue to offer scholarship workshops and information sessions to share information on the abundant external financial assistance available for students interested in studying abroad.

6) Other

  • UA Little Rock had students awarded Gilman Scholarships during 2017-2018. Kristen Gregory was awarded $4,500 to study abroad in Greece for summer 2017, Rebecca Hallet won $4,500 to study abroad in the Czech Republic for fall 2017.
    • Kristen Gregory turned down her scholarship due to personal matters. This is an unfortunate realty for our campus, as students can't get courses pre-approved, or have to withdraw due to family or personal matters.
    • For Summer/Fall 2018, we have had three winners and an alternate, which is a sharp increase from summer/fall 2017. We also had the first Fund for Education Abroad Scholarship winner in the state of Arkansas.
    • The Office of Study Abroad will continue to work with programs like the Gilman Scholarship, Fund for Education Abroad, Freeman-Asia Scholarship, and other external scholarship programs to educate UA Little Rock students on the the external scholarship dollars that are available for study abroad experiences.
  • In the fall of 2017, the Office of Study Abroad was relocated to Education 101A, with International Student Services. More publicity will need to be done to advertise the location of the office to the campus community, as this is the fourth physical location for study abroad since February 2016.

Type of assessment: Pre-test/Post-test

SLO:

#2B: Identify self-advocacy skills

#2C Practice personal accountability

#4A Assess obstacles to change

Describe assessment method and implementation

The Office of Study Abroad assessed pre-departure Orientation in December 2017 for students leaving for a full semester experience in spring 2018. We utilized pre and post-tests to see what students learned during the presentations.  Presentations were given by Counseling Services, Health Services, Department of Public Safety, Dean of Students Office, and the Director of Study Abroad.

Data collected

  • 1 of the 5 students scored perfect on the pre and the post, 4/5 increased their score by 2 questions each.
  • We had five students complete both pre/post tests in fall 2017.

Assessment items:

1. Health Services question

a. It’s okay if I leave my medication at home because I can easily get it in my host country.

b. I need to bring all the medication I’ll need for the trip with me.

c. I should hide my medications in different packaging to help keep it from getting stolen.

2. Counseling Services question - Traveling abroad is emotionally stressful when: (circle all that apply)

a. planning the trip.

b. departing the United States.

c. arriving in the host country.

d. preparing to head home.

e. arriving back in the states.

3. Public Safety question

a. The safety precautions used where I’m going are the same for the United States.

b. It’s safer where I’m going than it is in the United States, so I can let my guard down and enjoy myself.

c. It’s more dangerous where I’m going than it is in the United States, so I need to stay in my host family’s house as much as possible.

4. Student Conduct question
While studying abroad,

a. there’s a separate list of conduct expectations for me to follow.

b. I must follow the UA Little Rock Student Code of Conduct.

c. there are no specific conduct expectations.

5. The best place to exchange United States Currency for International Currency is: (circle the correct statement):

a. At the airport.

b. At a grocery store.

c. At an international bank.

d. At a hostel.

6. Grades question

a. My grades earned while studying abroad count towards my GPA, and I need to have my transcript sent to my house.

b. My grades earned while studying abroad do not count towards my

GPA, and I need to have my transcript sent to the Office of Study Abroad.

c. My grades earned while studying abroad do not count towards my GPA, and I need to have my transcript sent to Records.

d. My grades earned while studying abroad do count towards my GPA, and I need to have my transcript sent to the Office of Study Abroad.

7. While studying abroad, it is best to immediately contact the Director of Study Abroad in these situations:

a. I am lost in the city, don’t like the food, or can’t use the public transportation.

b. I lost my passport, have been involved in a serious accident, or have been seriously injured.

c. I lost my cell phone, can’t use the public transportation, or missed class.

d. I lost my passport, I’m failing a class, and I’m lost in the city.

8. If I choose to travel outside of my host country, I should make sure to (circle all that are correct) :

a. Carry a copy of my passport in addition to my original.

b. Notify the Office of Study Abroad and my host program of my travel plans.

c. Check for Visa Requirements for the countries you intend to visit.

d. None of the above- we’re not permitted to travel outside the host country

Open Response

  • What do you anticipate your greatest single challenge to be while studying abroad?
  • What are some behaviors that will help you gain a greater understanding of the country and its people?
  • (Post-test only) What additional questions do you have before you depart?

Interpretation of data

Most movement was in the area of student conduct, as students were unaware that they could be held accountable for any serious misbehavior abroad once they returned to campus.

On the post test, one student answered the safety question incorrectly, which leads one to believe that more needs to be done to stress that the locations we are sending students to are safe, and that information shared is for students to practice safe personal safety behaviors, not to scare them, whether intentionally or unintentionally.

80% of the participants increased their post-test scores, so data indicates that they learned something in pre-departure orientation.

Communication of results

Internal

How results will lead to improvement

The results from the fall 2017 surveys were utilized to better pre-departure orientation for spring 2018. More information was given to students in areas of: experiencing an airport for the first time, being respectful of host cultures, adapting to host families, food,


Type of assessment:

Operational

Describe assessment method and implementation

During Summer 2017, two site visits were completed on two partner institutions.

Data collected

See Reports below.

Interpretation of data

See Reports below.

Communication of results

University of Orleans Site Visit Report

Abat Oliba Report

How results will lead to improvement

At the end of May 2018, our exchange agreement with Abat Oliba expired, and we decided after this site visit to pursue other exchange partners in Barcelona due to the desired level of student support we need for UA Little Rock students who participate in study abroad experiences not being met.

We will continue to utilize site visits to increase the quality of study abroad experiences and our international partnerships to ensure students have the high quality experience they deserve.


Type of assessment:

Operational
SLO

#1A Demonstrate respect for cultural and demographic differences

#2A Define personal values

#2B Identify self-advocacy skills

#3D Explore issues of purpose and meaning within the context of higher education

Describe assessment method and implementation

At the end of their semester abroad, four students filled out a post-study abroad evaluation through the Terra Dotta Application Management System. Not all students have responded to all questions, nor did all students who studied abroad answer the survey, after numerous reminders.

Data collected

Each evaluation consists of 20 questions, both closed and open ended questions, rating questions, and multiple choice questions.  Four students completed the evaluation, a white male who studied in the Netherlands, an Asian female who studied in South Korea, a white female who studied in Czech Republic, and a Hispanic female who studied in France.

What benefits did you receive from studying abroad?

  • Student 1: "I learned more about my area of study in this semester than I have in all of my other classes."
  • Student 2: "Gaining more language skills in a direct environment and practicing it often with my host family."
  • Student 3: "I was able to be independent, gain friends from around the world, gain new ideas and perspectives, learn a new language, and find myself."
  • Student 4: "Increased communication skills, ability to adapt and problem solve, interview and research skills, and interpersonal skills."

What was the most satisfactory part of studying abroad?

  • Student 1: "Meeting new people from different cultures and learning about the world through interactions with them."
  • Student 2: "Not only passing my B1 level of French, but making lasting relationships that I will treasure forever."
  • Student 3: "I thought I had a grip of what South Korea would be like, but it wasn't what I expected and it was a lot more challenging, but I overcame the barriers!"
  • Student 4: "The chance to be in another part of the world and learn about a new, unfamiliar culture."

What advice would you share with other students who are considering studying abroad?

  • Student 1: "Be prepared to deal with more problems than you have ever experienced in your life. Request your money for the semester from financial aid a full semester in advance so that you will have it on time."
  • Student 2: "Don't just consider it... GO! It seems unattainable and a bit out of your comfort zone, but it is for all of us, I promise. Yet, going during your University experience makes it much more incredible. There is so much to learn, so many places to explore, and new culture, people, and horizons that you need to encounter!"
  • Student 3: "It's going to be hard-- you will experience depression, culture shock, homesickness, and probably even reverse culture shock. You don't get a lot of opportunities to study abroad while in college with scholarships. Take advantage of it!"
  • Student 4: "Go for it."

Ideas for how the Study Abroad Office can better prepare students for their overseas experience.

  • Student 1: "I think the Study Abroad Office did a great job at preparing me and helped a lot with dealing with all of the administration problems UALR throws at students who venture off the beaten path."
  • Student 2: "Although I had previously gone overseas, the preparing courses were such a great idea for those who haven't!!!! So way to go! I cannot think of others right now."
  • Student 3: "If they do commit to studying abroad, please try to push them to have their passports done first. Also, I think it would be helpful if they would hear from other student's opinions and experiences before going abroad."
  • Student 4: No Answer.

Interpretation of data

After reviewing the four evaluations, I want to highlight a few of the most interesting questions that yielded the best student data: "What advice would you share with other students who were considering studying abroad?" was the best questions asked.  We have found through this assessment and anecdotal data that students like hearing stories and information about prior students' study abroad experiences. These quotes can be utilized in information sessions and in pre-departure orientations moving forward to emphasize the transitional issues students face on their study abroad programs.

As we continue to improve advising and pre-departure programs, this direct student feedback will help Study Abroad staff provide ample resources and guidance to ensure students are successful on their study abroad experiences.

Communication of results

Due to potential privacy issues, this information will be shared via the annual report, and if the students give permission, we will use their quotes/pieces of advice on future presentations and marketing pieces.

How results will lead to improvement

Overall, the student evaluation feedback was highly positive in nature, and for some questions that went unanswered, we will review those to see if they could be better phrased or reworked to be answered in a better format. Student feedback is highly valued in the office, as they have the first hand experience of the programs and on a campus as small as UA Little Rock, word often spreads faster via word of mouth versus official marketing campaigns.  We hope to utilize some of the students from fall 2017 and spring 2018 to recruit for the office in the upcoming year.

Feedback (via this form and via a student email) has already been utilized to follow up with a program provider to clarify how health and safety and academic support information is shared with students once they arrive abroad, as those were two big issues noted by the students who studied abroad in South Korea.

As previously mentioned, site visits with all of our program providers are necessary to understand how students are prepared on site to transition to their temporary home abroad.  We are consistently reviewing our pre-departure orientation and advising materials to ensure that students are getting the newest, most relevant information to prepare themselves to spend any amount of time abroad.  We also work with all six of our program providers to ensure that we are in the know about their procedures in country so that students are aware of what they have available to them once they arrive abroad.

  1. Increase participation in international education experiences. The desire is to increase participation in both independent student experiences (semester long, internships, and research) and faculty-led experiences. We will continue to work towards this goal by establishing and executing a comprehensive marketing plan, which targets students by major, scholarship program, and students who have previously shown interest in studying abroad.
  2. Increase external scholarship applications and awards. UA Little Rock saw an increase in external scholarship applications and awards in 2017-2018 and hopes to utilize those students who were awarded scholarships to help potential study abroad participants through the application process. Information sessions and targeted outreach will also be utilized.
  3. Work with the Study Abroad Advisory Council to develop policies and procedures to streamline the study abroad process for all types of study abroad programs.
  4. Complete more Site Assessments/Visits. In 2016-2017, the Office completed several site visits to exchange institutions and with program providers, which assisted with the program portfolio restructure and helped with advising students. In 2017-2018, no site visits were completed.
  5. Continue to assess programs, student experiences, and pre-departure orientation to ensure that all study abroad experiences are high quality experiential learning programs, and that our students are prepared for the transition to spend any amount of time abroad.

2017-2018 Study Abroad Participation 

Summer 2017

Summer Semester Experiences: 5

Internship Participants: 4

Faculty Led Participation: 18

Fall 2017

Independent Experiences: 12

Faculty Led Participation: 6

Spring 2018

Independent Experiences: 5

Faculty Led Participation: 32

Total Students who Participated in Study Abroad: 82

Countries visited: Argentina, Austria, Australia, Bahamas, Cambodia, China, Costa Rica, Czech Republic, France, Ireland, Japan, Mexico, Netherlands, Rwanda, Scotland, Spain, Vietnam