Degree Type


Date of Award


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy





First Advisor

Linda S. Hagedorn


The purpose of this research is to answer questions pertaining to the design of study abroad programs at Iowa State University and determine which types of programs result in positive change in student development as it relates to intercultural competence and employability. The study implements the administration of an assessment instrument selected as part of a Capstone project with study abroad stakeholders at the university. The instrument selected, memo©, was piloted with groups of Iowa State University students studying abroad in the spring, spring break, and summer terms of 2016; of the 1221 students studying abroad during these terms, 115 completed both the pre and post assessment survey, a 9% response rate.

The findings show that overall, students improved four of the ten memo© factors that are evidence of intercultural competence and employability. Longer programs tend to result in growth in intercultural competence, but not employability or overall memo© Total values. Pre-departure preparation and reflection activities while abroad did have a positive impact on memo© Total values, and students in this study felt more prepared, on average, after they returned from their study abroad program than they did before they departed. This may indicate that the pre-departure orientation activities they completed did not create a false sense of preparedness.

Based on the findings, the researcher has concluded that an assessment team should take additional steps at the home institution to vet the instrument and the statistical analysis of the data. Additionally, the assessment team should add customized questions to provide a clearer picture of which program characteristics result in the most positive change. Finally, the assessment team should focus on providing information about the instrument to stakeholders in order to increase the response rate.


Copyright Owner

Katie Marie Davidson



File Format


File Size

155 pages