Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Higher Education


Catherine Engstrom


First-Year Experience;High Impact Practices;Learning Communities;Study Abroad

Subject Categories

Education | Higher Education


This dissertation explored the experiences of 16 undergraduate students across four cohorts who chose to begin college by participating in a first-year experience program abroad in London, England. Through the use of individual interviews and participant observation, this study sought to understand what influenced students’ decision making to start college abroad, what their experiences were as they transitioned to living and studying abroad in the UK, what shaped their learning as they studied abroad and then how these experiences shaped their transition to and engagement in a traditional American college campus as they moved through college. This dissertation draws upon the experiential nature of education espoused by John Dewey, the concept of holistic learning, and theories related to student learning, development, and engagement. The findings of this study contribute to the gap in literature related to first-year students who study abroad and the intellectual and developmental impacts of integrating multiple high impact practices (Kuh, 2008) in the first year of college and beyond.


Open Access