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The Politics Behind Study Abroad. Michael Rothschild PLSC 374: Dr. Wang. Abstract.

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The politics behind study abroad l.jpg

The Politics Behind Study Abroad

Michael Rothschild

PLSC 374: Dr. Wang


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Abstract

Attending a school like the University of Richmond, it is apparent that many of its students study abroad, either for a summer, semester, or full year. There has not been much research conducted in the past looking at the differences (if any) among those students who sojourn to another school and those that prefer to stay at their home institution. This study analyzes the political views and activities of both students who went abroad and those that did not. It is done in a survey format that went out to 78 Richmond students, 44 of which participated in a study abroad program. The experimental and simple post-test design will help to shed light on the mindset of those students before they went abroad and after. Also, included is an elite interview with the Dean of International Education that provided some background information and thoughts about how a semester overseas may affect a student. The findings are crucial to international educators because it will allow them to better understand the views and opinions of the student body they are trying to reach.

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Research Questions

  • Does a relationship exist between one’s political views and their propensity to study abroad?

  • What are the differences in political thinking of those that studied abroad and those that did not?


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Part I

Independent Variable  One’s political

views (i.e. Liberal vs. Conservative)

Dependent Variable  Did that person study abroad

Part II

Independent Variable  Did that person study abroad

Dependent Variable  2004 Presidential election, Iraq War, foreign policy goals, morals, ect…..


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Literature Review

Background Info

Albach (1970)

  • The history of study abroad is rooted heavily in politics

  • Cold War battle of ideologies

    Critical of US

    Carlson and Wideman (1988)

    Carlson, Burn, Useem, and Yachimowicz (1990)

  • Split on how returnees viewed the US


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Literature Review

Political Views

Nash (1976)

  • Controlled experiment

  • Experimental subjects significantly more liberal

    Austin (1989)

  • No significant findings that attitudes shifted upon return


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Literature Review

Who goes abroad?

Hull, Lemke, Huong (1977)

  • Previous research holds that demographics and field of study more important determinant

    • Parental achievement

    • Humanities and Social Sciences

      Dowd (2004)

  • Geography can signal political views


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Gaps to be Filled

  • No real info on liberal vs. conservative and going abroad

  • Effects of study abroad on UR students

  • Research is conducted after a heated election with students overseas

  • Many students are coming back from countries that are aggressively anti-Bush and anti-U.S.


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Data and Method

Research Design

  • Experimental

    • Experimental Group: Study abroad students

    • Control: Non study abroad students

    • Treatment: Time spent in another country

  • Simple post-test

    • Look at affects on students who went abroad

    • How it changed their political views


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Data Collection

  • Analysis of aggregate data

    • 2004 Open Doors Report

  • Elite Interview

    • Dr. Uliana Gabara, Dean of International Education

  • Survey research of UR students


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Variables

Comparatively Between Groups

Political Views (Liberal vs. Conservative)

US Involvement with other countries (Internationalist vs. Isolationist)

Registered to vote?

Party Registration

Voted in 2004 election?

For whom?

Approve Bush’s job as President

Was Iraq a mistake?

Was it worth going to Iraq?

Developments on the war in Iraq/Terrorism

Importance of US foreign policy goals

Moral Issues (Abortion and Death Penalty)


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Variables

Within Abroad Students

Before and after political views

Before and after US involvement

Liberalizing effect of study abroad?

More or less critical of US foreign policy

More or less critical of US overall


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Hypotheses

Comparatively Between Groups

  • H1: Students who consider themselves liberal will be more likely to go abroad

  • H2: Students who consider themselves internationalists will be more likely to go abroad

  • H3: Students who went abroad will be more likely to be registered as a democrat

  • H4: Students who went abroad will be more likely to have voted for John Kerry

  • H5: Students who went abroad will be more likely to disapprove of the way George W. Bush is handling his job as president


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Hypotheses

Iraq War

  • H6: Students who went abroad will be more likely to think going to war in Iraq was a mistake

  • H7: Students who went abroad will be more likely to think it was not worth going to war in Iraq

    Moral Issues

  • H8: Students who went abroad will be more likely to think abortion is morally acceptable

  • H9: Students who go abroad will be more likely to think the death penalty is morally wrong


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Hypotheses

Within Abroad Students

  • H10: Students who went abroad will be more inclined to label themselves as more liberal after their experience

  • H11: Students who went abroad will be more inclined to label themselves as internationalist after their experiences

  • H12: Students will agree that studying abroad has a liberalizing effect on students

  • H13: Students will come back more critical of US foreign policy

  • H14: Students will come back more critical of the US overall


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Elite Interview with Dr. Gabara

  • Compared national and UR statistics

    • Trends

  • Big difference is gender

  • Location will have an effect on the student

  • Limitations and Recommendations


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Survey: Sample

  • Convenience and Quota Method

    • Could control for variables

    • Personally handed out survey

    • High response rate

  • N = 78

    • 44 Abroad, 34 Non-abroad

      Limitations

  • Surveyed mainly students I knew

    • Friends, classmates

    • Males over-represented

    • Female Non-Abroad underrepresented

  • Not entirely random



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Iraq War Statistics

  • Study abroad students more likely to think:

    • Going to Iraq was a mistake (barely)

    • Things are going bad (moderately + very) for the US

    • It was not worth going


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Iraq Abroad vs. Non-Abroad





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2004 Presidential Elections

Abroad

Bush- 27.6%

Kerry- 72.4%

Non-Abroad

Bush- 59.1%

Kerry- 40.9%

  • Only variable that was statistically significant





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Main Hypothesis

Abroad vs. Non-Abroad Political Views

  • Means

    • Abroad  3.59

    • Non-Abroad  4.12

  • HOWEVER,

    • Statistical Significance  1.45 =FAIL TO REJECT THE NULL


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Summary of Findings

Statistically Significant  Can reject the null for H4, H12, H13, H14

  • Bush or Kerry in 2004

  • Abroad students feel:

    • Study abroad has a liberalizing effect

    • More critical towards US foreign policy

    • More critical towards US overall

      Close to Statistical Significance however, fail to reject the null

  • Feelings on the developments in Iraq and Terrorism

  • Abortion

  • Students coming back more liberal in self assessment


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Limitations on Research

  • Sampling Issues

    • Too small, not completely representative, not random

    • Lack of resources: Time and Print Credits

  • Questionnaire

    • Some questions leading

    • Too long and not all questions necessary

    • Problems with self-reflective questions (and looking in the past)

  • Statistical analysis

    • Beginner at SPSS

    • Two years removed from statistics


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Conclusions

Based on the statistical data:

  • There is no significant difference in the political views of those that went abroad vs. those that stayed at UR

  • You are more likely to vote for John Kerry if you went abroad in 2004-05

  • Students who went abroad do sense a (small) liberalizing effect

  • Students abroad during that time frame came back more critical of the US


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Future Research

  • Should look at personality characteristics along with political views

    • i.e. propensity to go rock climbing and go abroad

  • Look at time series data from elections not as polarizing as 2004

  • Do a pre- and post- test of students’ views who go abroad

    • Cultural effects along with political

  • Look more at the geographic choices and their effects

  • Do studies at different schools


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THE END

Any Questions?


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