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International education is universally valued both in academics and the job market because of the perception that those who study abroad have increased intercultural awareness, experience with diversity, and opportunity for personal growth. Given that students who are studying abroad are experiencing increased independence and experience with a new culture, this is a potential time for the development of perspective-taking, empathic concern, non-prejudice, and other forms of personal growth. The present, longitudinal study collected narrative and non-narrative data on these qualities of personality development before, during, and after the participants’ studies. For comparison, we gathered the same measures with a group of students who were taking a summer course on campus. Contrary to popular views of studying abroad, we did not find evidence that summer study abroad facilitated personality development more so than summer study on campus. We did find that students were more likely to report personal growth after studying abroad than studying on campus, but this was explained by the fact that the study-abroad group had higher expectations for personal growth before summer studies.

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John J Bauer

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