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Wendy Knight

CCE 588
Final Research Proposal
June 9, 2014

Research Proposal

7) What is your research question, or the specific hypothesis?
This quantitative research study seeks to identify the factors that impact a full-time Western
Washington University undergraduate students decision to participate in a study abroad
What perceived barriers impact or influence a Western Washington University students
decision not to participate in a study abroad/international education program?
A study abroad experience will be defined as one that has an educational component for
academic credit and does not include primarily travel as a tourist.

8) What are the potential benefits of the proposed research to the field?
According the NAFSA Association of International Educators (2012), ensuring that college
students are able study abroad is an important facet of becoming globally competitive and should
be a national priority. Given that only about one percent of college students study abroad, many
our missing out on developing foreign language skills, cross-cultural skills competence, and
other capabilities (NAFSA, 2012). Thus, this study intends to add to the body of work on why
students are not taking advantage of study abroad opportunities. Western students may perceive
institutional issues (such as transfer credit policies) as a barrier to studying abroad. If this is the
case, then it is possible that the studys outcomes may influence institutional policy changes.

9) What are the potential benefits, if any, of the proposed research to the subjects?
Participants in the research may not receive direct benefit from the study, but their involvement
may impact future Western students if post-research modifications are made to institutional
policies or other barriers are addressed. Another possible benefit is that completing the survey
may serve as a self-reflective process for participants, which may help develop a desire to study
abroad in the future as part of graduate studies, employment or volunteer work.

10 a) Describe the population your research is designed to study, including the number of
This research study will involve stratified random sample of current fulltime Western senior
students who have not participated in a formal, international education/study abroad experience
since they were admitted as freshmen. In fall 2013, Western reported 3,742 fulltime seniors so
the planned sample size is 350 participants to reach a 95% confidence level. This sample will
likely be representative demographics of general Western students, who are 56% female, 22.3%
students of color, and have an average age of 22 (Western Washington University, 2013).
Stratified random sampling will help account for the slight female predominance in the

b) Describe how you will recruit subjects from your population of interest. You should include
specific details about your sampling strategy (e.g. selection of cases from telephone or web
lists, classes, or clinics). I f appropriate, explain how you will contact key individuals who will
facilitate access to the sample subjects (e.g. group leaders). Any materials to be used for
recruitment (e.g. advertisements, web pages, contact letters or emails) should be included, in
addition to a description of any use of compensation.
Research participants will be determined by initially contacting Western Washington
Universitys Institutional Research and/or Registrars Office to obtain a list of eligible seniors
names and student email address. Eligibility will be determined based on transcript and
registration records in the Universitys Banner database which will indicate any credits earned
from a study abroad experience. Eligible seniors will receive an emailed consent form outlining
the purpose of the study and what types of information that will be garnered through the study.
The survey will also include introductory language that reiterates the consent information.

11) Briefly describe the research methodology. Attach copies of all test
instruments/questionnaires that will be used. Note: All attachments must be in final form;
drafts are unacceptable.
A list of all eligible students will be determined by analyzing registration records of Western
students classified as fulltime seniors who have not engaged in a study abroad program. From
this list, a small group will be identified to pilot test the survey instrument to ensure
understanding of questions and enhance greater validity of the instrument. Data from this pilot
study will not be included in the final survey results.
After the sample population is identified and student consent is received, the researcher will send
out a survey to 950 student email addresses with a two week deadline to complete the survey.
The researcher will send a reminder to the student email address one week in to the response
period. If 350 responses are not received, the survey will be sent to another 950 students until at
least 350 responses are received or all eligible participants have been contacted. These
additional groups, if needed, will be contacted within the same academic quarter in an effort to
avoid participant sample maturation.
The survey will be web-based, distributed via Survey Monkey. The instrument will include
demographic questions (such as gender, race, class level, major, home town) and a list of Likert
scale questions with optional text responses to clarify response or add additional information. A
statement of consent to participate in the study will be included at the top of the survey.
After the survey completion deadline passes, the researcher will download all responses from
Survey Monkey and will analyze results, tallying Likert Scale questions and demographic
information. Statistical analysis, including Chi-square tests, will be conducted on demographic
categories. Open ended written responses will reviewed and will look for common/frequently
occurring answers.
12) Give specific examples (with literature citations) for the use of your test
instruments/questionnaires, or similar ones, in previous similar studies in your field.
A custom electronic questionnaire will be developed for this study, but most questions will be
developed by reviewing results of several studies. A primary initial question will allow students
to indicate if they ever wished to study abroad or if they had no interest or intention of studying
abroad during their undergraduate studies.

This study intends to use a quantitative questionnaire, a format that was also used by researchers
studying the decline of Japanese students studying abroad (Lassegard, 2013). A few questions
in this study will reflect topic areas used by Lassegard (2013), such as financial resources,
language abilities, academic progress (delayed graduation), and employment factors. Given that
a lack of financial resources was reported as the top answer in the Lassegard (2013) study as to
why interested students were unable to study abroad, this survey instrument will include multiple
questions to tease out where financial difficulties occur for Western students (self-provided
resources, parental resources, loans, credit card debt, financial aid, scholarships, etc.).

Question format may also be similar to those used in a study of business student willingness to
study abroad which includes the use of Likert scale responses (Hackney, Boggs, & Borozan,
2012). A sample of the Hackney et als question is displayed below:

The Hackney et al study, also performed at a public university, also found gender to be indicative
of student willingness to study abroad, with males being less willing. This research studys
instrument will include basic demographic information including gender in an effort to determine
if this trend is applicable to Western students.
Given that major selection may impact student perception of or willingness to study abroad, the
survey instrument will also inquire to student major and programs (Toncar, Reid, & Anderson,
2006). Similarly, Hackney, et al., (2012) found that study abroad program length can influence
willingness to study abroad, so this study will explore whether perceived barriers differ if a
program is shorter or longer in length.

A web based format will be used to reduce researcher administration time, participant
completion time, and analysis time as well as providing a high level of accuracy of data (Durrant
& Dorius, 2007). This type of format will also allow for possible integration with existing
student data contained in University systems. Furthermore, Western students have access to
computers in computer labs across campus as well as access to Wi-Fi in many areas, including
residence halls and most classrooms. A web-based questionnaire will also help reduce
administration costs as there are free or low-cost web hosting sites.

13) Describe how your study design is appropriate to examine your question or specific
hypothesis. I nclude a description of controls used, if any.
This quantitative study design is appropriate to examine the research question because it allows
for a broader sampling of the population than a smaller qualitative study would provide. This
study, by using a quantitative web-based survey, is a widely accessible format for college
students and may lead to a greater participation rate than other formats. As a descriptive study,
this study primarily seeks to discover frequency of attitudes or perceptions about barriers to
study abroad, so there isnt a planned experiment or intervention.

There are some limitations to this study design. It does not allow for in-depth anecdotal
information from participants and may deter any participant who does not have familiarity with
web based surveys. And while surveys will be sent to specific Western student email addresses
which are password protected, there is the possibility that a student could report inaccurate
information or respond multiple times, although there does not appear to be an advantage to do
so. Furthermore, this study will use a custom survey instrument that has not been validated by
outside sources.

Further, as noted by Toncar, Reid, & Anderson (2013), student perceptions of study abroad can
be quickly altered by external forces or current events. Finally, the study also has limited
generalizability outside of Western Washington University. Provided that the sample is
constrained by one sample group from one public comprehensive university, it would not be
appropriate to generalize nationally or to other types of universities (private, large research
institutions, etc.).

14) Give specific examples (with literature citations) for the use of your study design, or
similar ones, in previous similar studies in your field.
This study seeks to add to the approaches used to determine barriers or influences in student
choice in study abroad. Previous studies have included longitudinal quantitative and qualitative

Intent to study abroad has been researched from longitudinal perspective with a focus within
liberal arts programs (Salisbury, Umbach, Paulsen, & Pascarella, 2009). In this study, the
Wabash National Study of Liberal Arts Education instrument as well as the National Survey of
Student Engagement and an additional student experience questionnaire was used to study
factors in student choice to study abroad. While a longitudinal study would provide information
on changing attitudes regarding perceived study abroad barriers over time, this study will focus
on a snapshot of perceived attitudes during senior year. A longitudinal study also requires more
resources, both in time spent by researcher and participants as well as funding. Given the limited
time and financial resources for this study, a quantitative study is more appropriate.

Qualitative studies have been utilized to study student choice as well (Eder, Smith, & Pitts,
2010). Eder, Smith & Pitts (2010) presented data collected via in-depth interviews via online
student chat from foreign students deciding to study abroad in the United States. This type of
qualitative study does allow for a greater depth in analysis of the participants, but is generally
limited by a smaller sample size. This study seeks to gain a broader picture of student
perception the majority of Western seniors, so a larger sample size, facilitated by a quantitative
study is beneficial.

After completing their research of study abroad perception by comparing business students to
non-business students, Toncar, Reid, & Anderson (2008) encouraged future research that would
include a sampling of students in multiple disciplines. To that end, this quantitative study will
allow for a larger sample size across multiple disciplines.

15) Describe how you will address privacy and/or confidentiality.
Participants will be providing personal demographic data and personal opinions. Thus, the
researcher will protect individual confidentiality by reporting grouped data or individual data
without names attached.

Electronic records will be kept on a password-protected file and password-protected Survey
Monkey web site. If any print records are maintained that disclose individual data, they will be
kept in a locked file when stored. Printed records/data will be shredded prior to disposal.

Durrant, M. B., & Dorius, C. R. (2007). Study abroad survey instruments: A comparison of
survey types and experiences. Journal of Studies in International Education, 11(1), 33
53. doi:10.1177/1028315306286929
Eder, J., Smith, W. W., & Pitts, R. E. (2010). Exploring factors influencing student study abroad
destination choice. Journal of Teaching in Travel & Tourism, 10(3), 232250.
Hackney, K., Boggs, D., & Borozan, A. (2012). An empirical study of student willingness to
study abroad. Journal of Teaching in International Business, 23(2), 123144.
Lassegard, J. P. (2013). Student perspectives on international education: An examination into the
decline of Japanese studying abroad. Asia Pacific Journal of Education, 33(4), 365379.
NAFSA Association of International Educators (2012, March). Issue brief: Ensuring the global
competency of U.S. college graduates. Retrieved from
Salisbury, M., Umbach, P., Paulsen, M., & Pascarella, E. (2009). Going global: Understanding
the choice process of the intent to study abroad. Research in Higher Education, 50(2),
119143. doi:10.1007/s11162-008-9111-x
Toncar, M. F., Reid, J. S., & Anderson, C. E. (2006). Perceptions and preferences of study
abroad. Journal of Teaching in International Business, 17(1-2), 6180.
Western Washington University, Office of Institutional Research (2013). Student profile report.
Retrieved from https://admin-rptnet.wwu.edu/student/StudentProfile.aspx