Evaluation Methods for Study Abroad, Mission Trips, and Service Learning Programs

Thursday, 25 July 2013: 8:50 AM

Danielle Briscoe, SN1
Rachel Graham-Howard, SN1
Victoria Pennell, SN1
Claire Villaroman, SN1
Marilyn D. Klakovich, DNSc, RN, NEA-BC2
(1)School of Nursing, Azusa Pacific University, Azusa, CA
(2)School of Nursing, Azusa Pacific University, California State University, Fullerton, University of Phoenix, Azusa, CA

Learning Objective 1: Describe three outcome measures for study abroad, mission trip, and service learning program evaluation.

Learning Objective 2: Discuss the value of combining quantitative and qualitative methods to evaluate study abroad, mission trip, and service learning programs.

Background: Our faith-based university has a strong service mission and initiatives to ensure that all students have a global or domestic intercultural experience. Despite an extensive infrastructure to support these initiatives, insufficient attention has been directed toward identifying and assessing outcomes of experiences.  The purpose of this project was to determine effective evidence-based evaluation methods for assessing students’ intercultural experiences.  

Methods: Databases searched included ERIC, SocINDEX, and Teacher Reference. Search terms included study abroad, service learning, missions, outcome measures, and program evaluations. Out of 293 articles screened, only 9 met the inclusion criteria of full text articles addressing both a form of service learning and evaluation.  Additionally, 12 universities and their service learning programs were surveyed about their evaluation methods and tools. Three universities responded.

Results:  Articles were compared regarding types of evaluation methods, their effectiveness, and outcomes.  Findings from the best practices survey were synthesized with the integrative review findings to make the following recommendations.  Establishing learning outcomes early in the program is vital. Examples of effective outcomes include improved self-efficacy, higher sense of justice, greater awareness of diversity, or increased likelihood of future service in the community.  Hold service implementation and final reflection sessions.  Adequate reflection time is invaluable to service learning because the student has more time to think, grow, and gain vital life lessons from the experience that will eventually benefit the community. Both qualitative and quantitative methods should be used for evaluation including surveys, questionnaires, interviews, and essays.

Conclusions: Findings support the importance of cross-cultural experiences resulting from these programs and the need for standardized assessment tools. The synthesized recommendations from this project can be used to enhance evaluation methods of these programs. The hope is that recommendations will be used to enrich the cross-cultural experiences of students participating in these programs.