Through Students’ Eyes: Perceptions and Aspirations of College of Agriculture and Life Science Students Regarding International Educational Experiences
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This study examined perceptions and aspirations of 956 students concerning international educational experiences. Drawn as a purposive critical case, respondents were enrolled across 29 undergraduate majors and 24 graduate majors in Texas A&M University, College of Agriculture and Life Sciences (COALS) during 2009. Sample demographics were consistent with the student population (N=6,470) of COALS. Questionnaires were administered across 13 academic departments. Respondents revealed strong interests in international educational experiences. Two-thirds of respondents held positive perceptions of international experiences and identified preferred countries. Students preferred faculty-led programs or similar campusoriginated and directed experiences. Students were receptive to a variety of other international experiences. Respondents sought international experience to enhance their overall life experience, for the opportunity to live in another culture, and to increase their employability. Influencing factors included affordability, the country itself, and subject matter. Financial issues were perceived as difficulties. Pragmatically, students recognized challenges in paying for programs and added living expenses. Despite these challenges, 70% of the students believed that international experiences would improve their competitiveness. A positive relationship existed between willingness and competitiveness. The authors posit four deductive recommendations: COALS provides experiences that prepare students for their future. Consequently, a global curriculum will result in a better-prepared person. Faculty members communicate values. Consequently, faculty should provide early and consistent messages that help students actualize their plans. Learning transitions from safe environments to real-world experiences. Consequently, applying simulations within traditional courses will facilitate global engagements. Simplifying the international experience is crucial. Consequently, accessible assistance will encourage broader experiences.
author list (cited authors)
Briers, G., Shinn, G., & Nguyen, A.