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Assessing Short-Term Learning Abroad

Poster 2

5/21/24, 9:30 PM

This presentation explores unique methods for assessing student learning in short-term international
learning experiences, as such programs eclipse traditional long-term study abroad in popularity.

Courtney Carlson

University of Wyoming


Education Abroad,
Educational Evaluation

This presentation explores effective methods for assessing student learning in short-term international education experiences. While extensive scholarly attention has been given to assessing learning in traditional semester- and year-long learning abroad programs, there's been limited focus on short-term courses despite their increasing popularity. (According to the 2023 OpenDoors report, the majority of American students abroad during the 2021-2022 academic year participated in programs lasting fewer than eight weeks.) For short-term international education to be recognized as a credible endeavor in higher education, it will require robust assessment activities demonstrating clear and compelling impacts on students' learning.

Hear it from the author:

Assessing Short-Term Learning Abroad


Short-term study abroad is gaining popularity, particularly among US college students, offering
invaluable cultural immersion and experiential learning in programs lasting eight weeks or fewer.
However, there's a notable gap in what we know about how best to assess the academic and
personal impacts of these unique programs.

Standardized evaluation practices are crucial for assessing student learning in short-term study
abroad, because those drive better program design and demonstrate their credibility to a range
of stakeholders including prospective students and families, administrators, and even donors.
But methodological and philosophical obstacles to standardization have prevented researchers
from charting a clear path for assessment in these distinctive contexts.
This literature review highlights the promise of short-term international programs for academic
rigor and personal transformation, showing that they potentially surpass traditional,
longer-duration ones. To capture these special impacts, I recommend employing methods like
interviews and written reflections for a more holistic approach to assessment of student

Ultimately, a research agenda incorporating longitudinal and case studies will be necessary to
understand effective assessment strategies and long-term impacts, enrich program
development, and ensure students derive maximum benefit from international experiential

Higher Education, 85(2), 341–357. 

Kosman, B. A., de Jong, D. C., Knight-Agarwal, C. R., Chipchase, L. S., & Etxebarria, N. (2024). Development and validation of an assessment tool for higher education learning abroad programs: A qualitative Delphi study. Nurse Education Today, 132, 106030–106030. 

Savage, M. P., & Wehman, T. L. (2014). Assessing the Impact of International Experiential Education on the Critical Thinking Skills and Academic Performance of College Students. International Journal of Arts & Sciences, 7(1), 1-18.

Davis, K. A., & Knight, D. B. (2023). Assessing learning processes rather than outcomes: using critical

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