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How Family Cultural Capital Is Related to Study Abroad Participation: Insights from First-Generation U.S. College Students

How Family Cultural Capital Is Related to Study Abroad Participation: Insights from First-Generation U.S. College Students


A recent study by Dr. Radomir Ray Mitic, a 2019 recipient of an IOE SemyonovAward fellowship in higher education research, delves into the intricate dynamics shaping study abroad decisions among first-generation U.S. college students. The research offers compelling insights into the pivotal role of family cultural capital. Leveraging data from the Educational Longitudinal Survey (ELS: 2002), Dr. Mitic analyzes precollege and college-related factors influencing students' propensity to engage in international educational experiences.

With methodological rigor, the study navigates the vast terrain of longitudinal data, meticulously examining variables ranging from parental nativity to the frequency of family vacations. Through sophisticated modeling techniques, including hierarchical modeling and interaction effects analysis, the study illuminates the multifaceted interplay between family cultural capital and study abroad participation.

Results from this research paint a vivid picture of the profound influence wielded by family cultural capital on study abroad decisions. Notably, parental nativity and the frequency of family vacations emerge as robust predictors of students' likelihood to embark on international academic journeys. Moreover, the nuanced findings reveal intriguing dynamics at play, particularly for first-generation college students, where parental academic involvement assumes a complex role in shaping study abroad aspirations.

Nevertheless, amidst the wealth of insights there lies a recognition of certain limitations inherent in the study. Questions loom over the applicability of findings in the contemporary educational landscape, given the age of the dataset. Additionally, nuances in the operationalization of family cultural capital variables beckon further scrutiny to ensure a comprehensive understanding of the constructs under investigation.

In the corridors of academic discourse, the discussion sparked by this study reverberates with implications for practice and policy alike. It underscores the imperative for tailored interventions to promote study abroad opportunities, particularly among historically marginalized groups such as first-generation college students. As institutions navigate the post-COVID educational terrain, this study serves as a beacon, illuminating pathways for fostering diversity and inclusion in international education.

In sum, this research uncovers new vistas in the study abroad landscape, offering fresh perspectives on the intersection of family cultural capital and educational mobility. As scholars and practitioners alike chart their courses in pursuit of global engagement, the insights gleaned pave the way for a more equitable and enriching educational journey for all.

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About the author

About the author

Dr. Radomir Ray Mitic

Dr. Radomir Ray Mitic is a leading scholar in education research, specializing in higher education policy and student outcomes. He is currently an Assistant Professor of Higher Education at the University of North Dakota.

A Ph.D. in Higher and Postsecondary Education, Dr. Mitic focuses on the complex interplay of socio-demographic factors, family dynamics, and institutional structures on students' academic trajectories. His work spans quantitative analysis, survey design, and qualitative inquiry, providing nuanced insights into pressing issues in education.

As an accomplished researcher, Dr. Mitic has published extensively in peer-reviewed journals and contributed to the development of evidence-based policies and interventions. His expertise extends to international education, where he explores cross-cultural perspectives on educational systems and student experiences. Dr. Mitic's commitment to bridging research and practice has led to collaborations with educational institutions, government agencies, and non-profit organizations.

Dr. Mitic has received multiple awards and grants for his academic pursuits, underpinning the significance of his work in advancing our understanding of education's role in shaping individuals' lives and society. He was among the inaugural winners of the 2019 IOE SemyonovAward early-career fellowships in higher education research recognizing his contribution to civic studies.

Actively engaged in professional associations and conferences, he facilitates knowledge exchange and networking opportunities, driving positive change in education systems worldwide.