Education Abroad Student Learning Outcomes Initiative

Study abroad is recognized as a “high impact practice” which can have a positive effect on student learning and development.  The Office of International Programs encourages faculty members and students to go beyond their disciplinary focus and utilize the international context of their programs to enhance student learning.

Education Abroad Student Learning outcomes

Keeping in mind the importance of and need for global learning, the Office of International Programs, in collaboration with the Office of Education Abroad, faculty, and the Center for Teaching and Learning, designated the following as the primary desired learning outcomes from UNC Charlotte study abroad programs:

  1. Communicate the global relevance of the education abroad program
  2. Engage with cultural similarities and differences
  3. Critically reflect on one’s own cultural situatedness
  4. Explain global interconnectedness of place and people

Why It Is important

The concept of global learning goes beyond simply thinking about other countries and cultures; it is intrinsically connected to the issues and ideas that shape our world.  This is partly why we refer to “global” learning or education: we don’t want students to think of study abroad as something that is disconnected from their daily lives back in Charlotte.  It is crucial that they understand how these processes and problems they encounter overseas relate to their own experiences at home.

Although study abroad participation has continued to increase nationally and students often return proclaiming that their experiences have changed them, we now recognize that it is not enough to simply send students abroad.  As education abroad professionals and faculty members, we must be more intentional in both what and how our students learn while abroad.

Faculty-Led SLO Pilot Program

In partnership with the Office of International Programs and the Center for Teaching and Learning, the Office of Education Abroad is working to incorporate pertinent student learning outcomes (SLOs) and assessment measures into faculty-led education abroad program design. Utilizing learning outcomes assessment data will help align faculty-led education abroad with department and college internationalization plans, best practices, and goals, while also encouraging the development of thoughtful and innovative program design. The topic of student learning and training in reflective intercultural and globally-oriented practices is of great importance in the field of international education, and recent studies have shown that a focus in these areas supports effective student learning and success in short-term education abroad.

These SLOs also align with the University’s “Shaping What’s Next” strategic plan, specifically objective A.3.2: broaden opportunities for students to gain international exposures and experiences. The Office of International Programs hosts workshops throughout the year for faculty to align their study abroad program objectives to the student learning outcomes. OIP is also conducting a pilot study that examines how faculty are assessing the SLOs in spring break and summer programs. Conducting this study will allow both the faculty and Education Abroad to:

  • Provide valid data on students’ intercultural and global learning, in addition to discipline-specific learning
  • Elevate the quality of faculty-led education abroad programs
  • Contribute to curriculum internationalization at UNC Charlotte

To learn more about the SLO initiative, please contact Briana Casey, Associate Director for Education Abroad (