Master of Arts in Higher Education (MAHE) Theses

Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)

First Advisor

Scott Gaier

Second Advisor

Tim Herrmann

Third Advisor

Scott Moeschberger


Understanding the connection between a students’ short term missions (STM) and study abroad (SA) experience to his or her academic engagement proves necessary for higher education professionals desiring to enhance the benefits of a co-curricular college education. As students return from various trips, their interaction with different cultures, exposure with diverse ideas, and involvement in service work create an opportunity for engagement with deeper life-long learning. Higher education professionals should capitalize on these positive learning outcomes and transfer them into the classroom, further impacting students’ academic engagement. The present study researched key themes evidenced by student participation in STM and SA trips and the ways they impact students not only in their worldview and global mindedness but also in their ability to better engage academically. Participants in the research expressed a connection between their trip experiences and better academic engagement in and out of the classroom. Some of the key themes coming out of the research included a better knowing and understanding of the world around them and how it connects students to what they learn and study in the classroom. Participants also could better apply what they experienced directly to their own academics and vocational pursuits, often answering questions associated with the pursuit of their particular area of study. Effective communication and critical thinking in and out of the classroom also emerged as significant to their academic engagement. Participants expressed an increase in their ability to communicate with faculty and fellow students what they learned from their experiences and an ability to better contribute to overall classroom discussion. These positive outcomes prove beneficial for both student affairs and academic affairs professionals alike who seek ways to enhance academic engagement through student participation in these trips.