2014 Heiskell Award Honorable Mention: Study Abroad
Nomination submitted by: Nobi Hayashi, Director of Study Abroad Program
While a number of U.S. institutions have begun developing study abroad programs for first-year students, this is still a relatively recent concept in the field of international education. DePaul University’s FY@broad program, now in its fifth year, has combined the university’s first-year seminars with short-term travel excursions to produce a successful model that integrates study abroad into the students’ academic experience, with demonstrated benefits in retention and graduation rates for participating students.
DePaul’s FY@broad programs comprise three phases—pre-travel preparation and course work, academically engaged travel, and post-travel reflection. This sequence of course delivery exposes first-year students to a variety of disciplinary approaches, improves their writing skills, engages students intellectually in settings that take advantage of the site, and develops students’ critical thinking skills.
The FY@broad program is a collaboration between the First Year Program, the Study Abroad office, and faculty, with the objective of integrating global and transnational perspectives into the first year of the Liberal Studies Program core curriculum. Recruited from across the university, select staff professionals also join the program to contribute their international expertise and global competence in their facilitation of the pre-departure Global Hour curriculum, designed to foster intercultural competence and prepare students for increasingly globalizing world. The close coordination serves as a way for the students to make close connections with the DePaul community, and as an international professional development opportunity for staff.
Students who participate in FY@broad at DePaul have shown growth in areas of academic achievement and retention as well as language acquisition. DePaul’s data shows the retention rate for FY@broad students has been higher for three of the first four cohorts. And, significantly, the first FY@broad group that took part in the program in 2009-10 graduated this past summer had a graduation rate of 75.5%, compared to the 56.4% rate among the general population.