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AN OPINION ANALYSIS FOR STUDY ABROAD PROGRAMS

K. Kotani, M. Uchida

Kansai Gaidai Univeristy (JAPAN)
This study compares students’ opinions about study abroad programs in Likert scale answers and open-ended comments. Universities have offered study abroad programs as a response to academic globalization, and assessment of study abroad programs has been investigated from both conceptual and empirical perspectives (Savicki et al. 2015). Assessment improves the quality of study abroad programs, and enhances students’ learning outcomes by providing feedback to students. For instance, a goal of study abroad programs is to enhance students’ cross-cultural communicative competence (Engle et al. 2004), which can be assessed by rubric (Stevens et al. 2005) such as Intercultural Knowledge and Competence VALUE Rubric (Association of American Colleges and Universities 2016).

Another assessment method uses statistical analysis for students’ opinions about study abroad programs. Quantitative assessment becomes available as a result of the increase of the number of students who participate in study abroad programs. Chang et al. (2011) proposed a fuzzy statistical analysis for opinions about the importance of and readiness for study abroad. Their study employed answers given to questionnaires in a Likert scale by approximately 200 Asian university students who were to participate in study abroad programs in Europe or North America.

In our study, questionnaires were administrated to approximately 700 university students from Europe or North America who completed study abroad programs in Asia. The response rate was 85%. The questionnaires asked the satisfaction of study abroad programs with respect to:
(i) language and non-language courses,
(ii) housing, and
(iii) interaction with local students.

The questionnaires were designed using a five-point Likert scale and an open-ended comment. Comments contained more than 45,000 words in total: approximately 18,000 words for (i), 14,000 words for (ii), and 13,000 words for (iii).

The results demonstrated different attitudes between the Likert scale answers and comments. In the Likert scale answers, the study abroad programs were positively accepted, because the first two positive answers were chosen by more than half of the students (it ranges from approximately 60% to 90%) in the three types of question areas (i) to (iii). In the comments for (i), however, students pointed out potential possibilities for improvement. Students demonstrated their satisfaction with the study abroad programs for the question types (ii) and (iii), which was consistent with the Likert scale answers. Also, investigation of comments provided linguistic properties such as vocabulary and grammar for students' positive and negative opinions about the study abroad programs. For instance, students tended to use first person subjects for (i), and third person subjects for (ii) and (iii). These findings are useful in developing an automatic opinion analysis for study abroad programs.

References:
[1] Association of American Colleges and Universities 2016. Value Rubric Project.
[2] Chan, D.-F. et al. 2011. Evaluating college students’ perceptions of study abroad using fuzzy logic.
[3] Engle, L. et al. 2004. Assessing language acquisition and intercultural sensitivity development in relation to study abroad program design.
[4] Savicki, V. et al. (eds.) 2015. Assessing Study Abroad.
[5] Stevens, D. D. et al. 2005. Introduction to Rubrics.