Impacts and Outcomes: What Can Be Expected From International Education Experiences and Initiatives?

By Shanna Saubert posted 08-31-2018 01:01 PM


It seems that everyone, everywhere, is focused on trying to measure and assess outcomes in some form or another. Think of university rankings, global competencies, and workforce development. From the student perspective, outcomes may focus on: subject knowledge, foreign language competence (even English as a foreign language), graduate employability, improving grades, global competence and awareness, and persistence/resilience. Staff and faculty may focus more on the success of learning objectives or program assessments – how they impact students and what improvements can be made for future endeavors. Institutional leaders from all levels may be interested in the effects of comprehensive internationalization and how a campus interacts with the surrounding community. For each case, it is reasonably important for international educators to consider not only what is being measured, but why it is being measured, how it is being measured, and how it relates to other efforts to improve the current status quo.

While reviewing these studies, it may help to consider several questions:

  • How do students, staff, and faculty perceive outcomes and impact?
  • What measurements are appropriate for assessing different types of outcomes and in different environments (program, department, institution, country, region, etc.)?
  • What variables should be considered when thinking about outcomes and impacts?
  • How can collaborations serve to shape and achieve specific outcomes?
  • How can assessments of outcomes and impact improve the experiences of current students, alumni, and future students?

Selections provide a sample of current research on this complex topic. More abstracts on this and other topics can be found in the NAFSA Research Connections community library. Additional updates regarding upcoming events and other resources will be posted in the comments below. Links to individual annotated bibliographies compiled for each KC are also provided.


  • Ivanova, Rossitza. 2018. “Using “where I’m from” poems to welcome international ESL students into U.S. academic culture.” TESOL Journal, Early View:1-15.             RC Link

This article presents a course design and additional programs using “where I’m from” assignments to assist international students in becoming more comfortable, learning more about each other, and integrating better into the academic environment of the university.

  • Coker, Jeffrey Scott, Evan Heiser, and Laura Taylor. 2018. “Student outcomes associated with short-term and semester study abroad programs.” Frontiers: The Interdisciplinary Journal of Study Abroad XXX, 2:92-105. RC Link

Article presents a longitudinal study examining how study abroad relates to student outcomes of student engagement and other high impact practices, using data consisting of responses to the National Survey of Student Engagement (NSSE) and cocurricular transcripts.

  • Caspersen, Joakim, Jens-Christian Smeby, Per Olaf Aamodt. 2017. “Measuring learning outcomes.” European Journal of Education: Research, Development and Policy 52, 1:20–30.              RC Link

This article discusses how learning outcomes are defined and measured and why it matters, using a literature search to draw out important themes.

  • Soria, Krista M., and Matthew Johnson. 2017. “High-impact educational practices and the development of college students’ pluralistic outcomes.” College Student Affairs Journal 35, 2:100-116.                RC Link

This article looks at how students’ involvement in ten different high impact educational practices relate to leadership development and multicultural competence.

  • Hurley, Daniel, Rosalind Lowe, Anne Marie Graham, and Catriona Hanks. 2017. Gone international: The value of mobility. Report on the 2013/14 graduating cohort. London, England: UK HE International Unit.         RC Link

This report looks at how international education experiences relate to outcomes of both academic attainment and employment.

  • An, Brian P., Eugene T. Parker, Teniell L. Trolian, and Dustin D. Weeden. 2016. “A holistic approach to estimating the influence of good practices on student outcomes at Liberal Arts and non-Liberal Arts institutions.” Journal for the Study of Postsecondary and Tertiary Education 1:153-175. RC Link

This article examines how principles of good practice at institutions contribute to and otherwise influence various student outcomes, and how they differ between liberal arts and non-liberal arts institutions.

  • Marconi, Gabriele, and Markus Schwabe. 2016. Attainment and labour market outcomes among young tertiary graduates. OECD Report. Washington, DC: OECD.            RC Link

This report looks at how the range of tertiary education programs (vocational/technical or associate degree programs, as well as bachelors, masters, doctoral degree programs) are perceived across different countries and between different generations within each country.

Annotated Bibliography on Outcomes for EA

Annotated Bibliography on Outcomes for ISSS & IEM

Annotated Bibliography on Outcomes for IEL

Annotated Bibliography on Outcomes for TLS