The communications gap in study abroad credential evaluation

May 3, 2016
  • AACRAO Connect
  • International Education
  • Study Abroad
Two illustrated figures of color sitting down for what appears to be an interview.

Study abroad is on the increase, as evidenced by IIE’s annual Open Doors Report. The kinds of study abroad programs and models are expanding, and many U.S. institutions are beginning to embed study abroad into the curriculum and degree.

With this expansion come new opportunities and challenges for accurate record-keeping.

The scope of the issues

There are varying approaches to study abroad credential evaluation. For example, with faculty-led programs, the course is typically part of the home school system and the challenges may be few. But with exchanges and direct enrollment, credit and grade conversions must be determined. Providers offer programming of multiple kinds – direct enrollment, center based, hybrid, etc. – each with their own transcripting considerations, including school of record relationships.

A necessary conversation

The AACRAO summer Study Abroad Workshop, June 29-30, 2016, in Washington, DC, will bring study abroad professionals together to address these challenges, learn from one another and explore solutions.The AACRAO Annual meetings have always had a series of sessions aimed at study abroad, which have seen an increase in attendance over the years. Many study abroad professionals are asking questions about transcript issues, both there and at the 2016 AACRAO IES Winter Institute for Transfer Credit. These are the major reasons for the creation of this workshop. 

The workshop will offer specific training in credit and grade conversion, including investigation of host educational systems, and how to arrive at equivalencies, such as awarding students a full course load at home for a full course load within the context of the host culture. Attendees will also consider how to allocate and manage resources.

Attendees will tackle specific issues, such as:

  • the use of placeholder courses for study abroad students,
  • processes for pre-approving courses,
  • residence credit versus transfer credit and transfer of credit versus transfer of letter grades for study abroad,
  • how to handle student grade appeals, and
  • quality assurance and vetting program providers.

“The workshop will also address some tougher issues,” said Opal Leeman Bartzis, chair of AACRAO’s Study Abroad Committee and Interim Vice President of Academic Affairs at the Institute for Study Abroad, Butler University, “such as how to support the student’s academic experience when the host university goes on strike or a natural disaster occurs, and the issue of academic ethics as a cultural construct, and how we can prepare study abroad students to succeed within unfamiliar educational environments while finding genuine value in the differences they encounter.”

For more information and to register, visit the page for the Study Abroad Workshop.

And, if you haven’t already, join AACRAO’s International Activities Listserv to connect with colleagues throughout AACRAO.



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