Measuring the relative impact of international experiences on engineering students: A benchmarking analysis

Scott C. Streiner, Mary Besterfield-Sacre

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    1 Scopus citations


    Engineering educators and higher education leadership believe those students who are able to work effectively with colleagues across national, cultural, and ethnic boundaries will be more prepared and successful post-graduation. Research has shown that international experiences have a positive impact on students’ global perspectives. Unfortunately, engineering students’ participation in said experiences is relatively low (historically), due to a variety of reasons such as lack of preparation, highly sequenced curricula, and lack of integration. Thus, engineering schools who are investing in internationalizing their programs need to determine whether these investments are producing their intended results and what experiences have the greatest impact. This study explores how engineering students utilize international experiences while in college and which experience types are most effective relative to global perspective development. Results from this study suggest that internships, co-ops, and technical research conducted abroad provide the largest impact to improving global perspectives while also being the least frequent type of experience. Further, the largest gains in global perspectives occurs after one international experience or by participating in a variety of experience types. This study supports a means by which global perspectives should be developed in engineering students—i.e., improving the global perspectives of an increasing diverse student population to what is empirically possible given the opportunities available to them, mediated by their upbringing and background. As institutions continue to invest time and resources into education abroad experiences, it is important to determine how students can get the most out of the available international opportunities, especially as students are presented with more and more options as to the types of activities and educational practices they can engage in during college.

    Original languageEnglish (US)
    Pages (from-to)1503-1517
    Number of pages15
    JournalInternational Journal of Engineering Education
    Issue number5
    StatePublished - 2019

    All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

    • Education
    • Engineering(all)


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