Narrative frames to assess overseas experiences

Tamara Swenson & Brad Visgatis

One issue for study abroad program administrators is understanding the students’ experiences. This paper discusses the use of the narrative frame structure, a tool from qualitative research, to provide a fuller picture of the overseas study experiences of a small group. Narratives frames collect data in the form of a “small story.” This paper discusses the use of narrative frames to assess the overseas experiences of a small group of students’ (N = 4). When combined with other small stories, the data provide more detail about the successes and problems of the study abroad experiences than can be obtained from surveys. This in turn can facilitate improvements in the pre-departure preparation students receive. Use of the narrative frames and suggestions for future use of narrative frames with similar programs are also discussed.