The number of undergraduate students participating in short-term experiences in global health (STEGHs) abroad has increased dramatically in recent years (Eyler 2002, Drain et al. 2007). These experiences, in tandem with classroom learning, are designed to help students master skills related to global health competencies, including cultural humility and sensitivity, collaborating with community partners, and sociocultural and political awareness. Although STEGHs offer potential benefits to both students and to sending institutions, these experiences can sometimes be problematic and raise ethical challenges. As the number of students engaged in STEGHs continues to increase, it is important to better understand the impact of these programs on student learning. Current ethical and best practice guidelines for STEGHs state that programs should establish evaluation methods to solicit feedback from students both during and on completion of the program (Crump et al. 2010). However, there is currently no established method for gathering this feedback because of the many different global health competency frameworks, types and duration of programs, and different models of student engagement in such programs. Assessing the quality of a STEGH is a profoundly important and difficult question that cannot be answered as succinctly and quantitatively as classroom performance, which has more standard and established assessment metrics. The goal of this project is to identify the most appropriate and useful assessment metric(s) for determining educational quality and impact for STEGHs at ASU by comparing a typical quantitative evaluation tool (pre-post survey with brief open-ended questions) to a more in-depth qualitative method (key informant interviews). In performing my analysis I seek to examine if the latter can produce a richer narrative of student experiences to inform ongoing program evaluations. My research questions are: 1. What are the current qualitative and quantitative evaluation methods available to assess student learning during short-term experiences in global health? 2. How can current methodology for assessing student experiences with short-term experiences in global health be adapted to collect the most information from students? 3. How do student knowledge and attitudes change before and after their short-term experience in global health? Why is understanding those changes important for adapting programs? My end goal would be to use these new, optimal assessment methods for gathering student perspectives and experiences to adapt pre-departure trainings and post-experience debriefings for study abroad programs, both of which I believe will lead to more sustainable partnerships and a healthier understanding of global health work for students.
- What Students Say Can Pave the Way: Creating Open Dialogue for Study Abroad Experiences