International Business: Research, Teaching and Practice 2010 4(1

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STUDY ABROAD: VALIDATING THE FACTOR ANALYSIS OF STUDENT CHOICES
Douglas W. Naffziger
Ball State University 2000 W. University Ave., Muncie, IN 47306

Ball State University 2000 W. University Ave., Muncie, IN 47306

Jennifer P. Bott

Stetson University 421 N. Woodland Blvd., DeLand, FL 32723

Carolyn B. Mueller

As universities seek to increase enrollment in study abroad programs, nationally less than 2 percent of all students participate. Understanding how university students view study abroad opportunities will help program developers and promoters to design programs that draw more students. This study seeks to validate results from an earlier factor analytic study into the causes of, and obstacles to students’ study abroad participation. Emergent factors in the current study, which accounted for approximately 50 percent of the variance, included Fear of the Unknown, Curricular Issues, and Financial Concerns. Results were similar to those of the earlier study.

Telephone: (765) 285-5312 Email: dnaffzig@bsu.edu

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self-report data were collected from 471 undergraduate business students at a medium-sized Midwestern university. professors of appropriate classes offered an extra credit incentive for 73 . safety. with international program directors. Students were introduced to the project during classroom visits by the researchers. Furthermore. curriculum. and openness to study abroad opportunities. such as frequency of parental and personal travel. Sample One To briefly review the 2008 study. After the classroom information sessions. 471 undergraduate business students at a mid-sized Midwestern university completed a 66-item survey. 2008) surveyed college business students to determine the specific factors that influence study abroad decisions by students. level of parents’ education. the results suggest that a number of potential barriers might be overcome through planning and individualized treatment of students. and a factor analysis identified six acceptable factors that explained 54 percent of the variance of two dependent variables: interest in. an additional sample was surveyed at a small private university in the Southeastern U. As mentioned. Participation was voluntary and the students were assured that all responses would be confidential and would be reported only in aggregate form. The group of 57 items included questions that dealt with issues relating to finances. and students’ educational aspirations beyond an undergraduate degree.S. Nine were standard demographic items such as age. Statistical analyses indicated that the decision to participate is influenced by several factors. family. In order to determine whether this six-factor solution is generalizable to a larger student population. students received emails with brief reviews of the instructions and a web-link to the survey. a survey of students was conducted at a mid-sized Midwestern university. The dependent variables and survey items contained Likert-type response continua ranging from not at all (response score = 1) to. Bott & Mueller Study Abroad: Student Choices INTRODUCTION A recent paper by the current authors (Naffziger. year in school. and data were collected via a webbased survey software package. and cultural concerns. to a very great extent (response score = 5). In the earlier study. The survey also included other factors identified as relevant by previous researchers of the topic. the survey instrument included 66 items. In most cases. and major field of study. and Mueller. SAMPLES AND DATA COLLECTION PHASE ONE To answer questions about why students do or do not include studying abroad as part of their college curriculum. Bott. The survey also included 57 items that were developed from conversations with faculty who were experienced in developing or leading study abroad experiences. and with students themselves.Naffziger.

International Business: Research.001 and $75. 221] = 4. family income. The majority of respondents in the second sample were male (60 percent) and Caucasian (71 percent). who has a moderate level of extracurricular commitment (F [4.000. Only 12 percent of the respondents were seniors.001) and 74 .001). Only 17 percent of the respondents were seniors.000 (26 percent). The largest group of respondents were sophomores (35 percent). p < . spoke no foreign languages (61 percent).94. no freshmen were included in this sample. and age were not related to either dependent variable.99.001 and $100. The largest group of respondents were sophomores (42 percent). Caucasian (87 percent). followed by incomes over $100. The majority of the respondents was male (53 percent). race. Sample Two Three items were related to interest in study abroad experiences: knowledge of other languages. previous travel experience. and intent to study beyond undergraduate education. Teaching and Practice 2010 (4)1 student participation in the online survey.S. The participants in the second sample were directed to a separate page on the same survey website used in the first study. Respondents typically had visited one to three other countries (43 percent) and either were partially fluent in one other language (42 percent) or spoke no foreign language (41 percent). RESULTS Prior to conducting the factor analyses. Interestingly. Nine demographic variables were evaluated.000 (37 percent). followed closely by juniors (40 percent). we were interested in examining demographic differences for two dependent variables: openness to and interest in study abroad opportunities.000 (31 percent). and freshman (21 percent). The profile of someone in this group is a student who has some foreign language skill (F [3. In fact. and had visited one to three other countries (51 percent). amount of extracurricular activities. students from each group saw a home page with their respective school logo and a tailored welcome message. parental education. The same percentage of respondents (21 percent) identified their family incomes as either under $50. As in the first sample. and 29 percent of respondents‘ parents both had graduated from college.000 or between $75. gender. PHASE TWO Sample Two Self-report data were collected from 224 undergraduate business students at a small private university in the Southeastern U. 221] = 5. most professors offered an extra credit incentive for student participation in the online survey. They were not aware of the earlier study. with four yielding significant results. followed closely by juniors (31 percent). p < . Household income for respondents most frequently fell between $50. The level of household income for respondents was most frequently greater than $100.

211] = 3. accounted for 7 percent of the variance and included items that involved financial aid and program cost.05). the profiles for openness and consideration were very much the same as here except those more open and more considering were likely to be younger students and more likely female in the current sample. and who also plans to study beyond an undergraduate degree after working for a few years (F [2. 218] = 2.05). and openness to study abroad. six factors were confirmed which explained 48 percent of the variance. Factor loadings for each question are presented in Table 1. 221] = 2. therefore a Principal Axis Factoring confirmatory factor analysis was employed. As can be seen in Table 1. accounted for an additional 4 percent of the variance and included three items that represented social roadblocks to traveling abroad. work. p < .05) and work (F [4. eigenvalues greater than 1. Scree plot.06).06). and who plans to study beyond his/her undergraduate degree after working for a few years (F [2. p < . Social Obligations and Concerns. all reliabilities were greater than the recommended threshold of 0. 1978). 75 . Bott & Mueller Study Abroad: Student Choices work obligations (F [4. Factor 3. Previous Travel Experience.60. In the previous study. Factor 4 contained four items that represented incompatibilities with major and lifestyle (e. p < .g. p < . In this effort. This factor accounted for 13 percent of the variance. Similarly. The sixth factor. The fifth factor. Reliability analyses (coefficient alpha) were conducted. and nervousness about interacting with foreigners. As can be seen in the table. who has a moderate commitment to extra-curricular activities (F [4.70 (Nunnally.0). the authors were interested in replicating relationships between factors and the two dependent variables: interest in. 218] = 2. housing). Factor 1 was named Fear of the Unknown and contained 16 items. Curricular Issues.40. the authors were primarily concerned with confirming a previously derived factor structure..91. This factor explained 14.221] = 4. alphas are located on the diagonal of Table 2. included five items and accounted for 4 percent of the variance. fear of mixing with other ethnicities. p < .. included 15 items that linked study abroad to academic credit in a student’s major or minor field of study or promoted career development or personal goals.e. 221] = 2. Using Varimax rotation and common methods of extraction (i. this factor included items that indicated a fear of the unknown. the profile of an individual who is open to the idea of studying abroad is a student who has fluency in a language other than his/her primary language of English (F [3. We called this factor Commitments.58. FACTOR ANALYSIS AND VALIDATION OF THE MEASURE As part of the validation effort. fear of anti-American sentiment. labeled Financial Considerations.Naffziger. which accounted for an additional 6 percent of the variance.05).21.97.73 percent of the variance. Factor 2. p < .

Teaching and Practice 2010 (4)1 76 .International Business: Research.

Naffziger. Bott & Mueller Study Abroad: Student Choices 77 .

Teaching and Practice 2010 (4)1 78 .International Business: Research.

01). p < . The overlap in factor structure between the two samples of respondents is high (see Table 3). Bott & Mueller Study Abroad: Student Choices Based on these factors. Four of the six factors were significantly correlated with interest in study abroad programs.18. In many cases.01) were positively related to interest. p < .001) were positively related to openness to study abroad programs.) Based on the similarities between factor structures derived from the two samples.01) and Previous Travel Experience (r = . These items failed to load on any of the six factors and included course credit but not toward major. Curricular Issues (r = . four of the six factors were predictive.01) and Social Obligations (r = -. the first in 2008 and the current study. Table 3 presents these correlations.01) were negatively related.e. if students are fearful of the unknown and feel their social obligations are too great. However. p < . At a surface level. In many cases. programs too short and extracurricular commitments. Interestingly. In terms of openness to the idea of study abroad. we are confident that most survey items are generalizable across the two different sample populations.25.40.01) and Social Obligations (r = -. three survey items were eliminated from analysis.20. p < .01) were negatively related. p < . if a study abroad program fits with students’ degree progress and they have travel experience.36. These findings support those discussed earlier for interest in study abroad programs. and Fear of the Unknown (r = -. we conclude that this measure of interest in. this information was gathered in similar items throughout the questionnaire. and interest in study abroad. p < . These relationships were all in directions that confirm intuitive thinking. These factor scores were then correlated with the dependent variables of interest: openness to. and openness to study abroad is generalizable and provides usable information about what factors contribute to students’ levels of openness and interest in study abroad experiences. Fear of the Unknown (r = -. Factor 1 with this sample. they are less likely to consider studying abroad. p < ..29. they are more likely to consider study abroad programs as a beneficial part of their educational experience. Although the extraction patterns were slightly different. and interest in study abroad (see Table 3). in other cases. Curricular Issues (r = . the relationships between those four factors and openness were stronger in some cases than the relationships between those four factors and interest in study abroad.Naffziger. the students at the Southern private 79 . FACTOR CORRELATIONS Scores for the six factors were created by averaging responses on items within each factor. the same factors emerged completely. FINAL FACTOR STRUCTURE Based on the two sets of analyses. a common set of factors emerged that explains approximately 50 percent of the variance in the dependent variables: openness to. that is. factors identified in the first sample were collapsed into a single factor in the second sample (i. p < . and Previous Travel Experience (r = .21.22.

S. The two studies (2008 and the current study) have identified a fairly consistent factor structure when using the same 57-item survey instrument. one being a mid-sized Midwestern public institution and the other being a small. and language skills. parental income and education. Empirically. The generalizability of the factor structure across these two samples is noteworthy and indicates that these factor structures will likely remain predictive across future samples. Many factors. As expected. Although the differences between the backgrounds of the samples are significant in terms of international exposure. that the six factors composed of 35 items be retained and tested across larger and more diverse samples of students to confirm predictability as well as to determine if these factors are unique to U.International Business: Research. Comparison of Factor Structures between Two Samples Variance Explained (%) 15 13 9 8 5 4 15 13 7 6 4 4 Number of Items 15 9 7 3 4 5 16 15 3 4 5 6 Factor Name Sample 1: Mid-sized Public University Curricular/Career Issues Fear of the Unknown/Travel Incompatibilities Financial Concerns Previous Travel Experience Social Obligations Fear of the Unknown/Travel Curricular/Career Issues Financial Concerns Commitments Previous Travel Experience Social Obligations Sample 2: Small Private University DISCUSSION AND CONCLUSIONS The results of this study have both empirical and practical implications. The important factor to note here is the difference between the two samples. we have demonstrated that students hold a relatively consistent view of the factors that influence decisions as to why they do or do not study abroad. Teaching and Practice 2010 (4)1 university are very different demographically from students at the larger Midwestern university. the students at the private school tend to come from families with higher income levels and a higher percentage of collegeeducated parents. such as cost and time away. private Southern school. have been regarded as influential factors over the years. students. therefore. the results of the factor analyses are strongly 80 . We recommend. Table 3. however there exists little empirical evidence to support such regard.

(1978). and marketing.. financial considerations. and travel are substantial concerns of students at both universities. the top three factors dealt with fear of the unknown and travel. though not in the same order. J. While the perspective of age and experience give the former group one view. REFERENCES Naffziger. Nunnally. Teaching and Practice 2(1). administrators. For both samples. C. C. J. Bott. Bott & Mueller Study Abroad: Student Choices similar. but that their reservations need to be understood and dealt with appropriately. With that in mind. the latter group may be looking at the idea entirely differently. energy. the issue is not that students will view the study abroad opportunity negatively. As universities work to increase their study abroad participation.Naffziger. curricular and career concerns. Study abroad programs compete with numerous activities for the students’ time. In that case. and finances. design. and faculty need to be cognizant of how students view these opportunities. Previous travel experience and exposure to study abroad and social obligations were also consistent across the samples. McGraw Hill: New York. directors. fear of the unknown. Psychometric Theory. and curricular issues. International Business: Research. the current results have practical implications and significance for faculty and university officials to consider and incorporate into their program development. 39-52. 81 . (2008). D. & Mueller. Factors influencing study abroad decisions among college of business students. Financial considerations.

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