The assumption that sending students abroad for extended periods of time will lead to increased understanding of others, one's place in the world, and increased skills required to navigate cross cultural interactions does not hold up in the literature. Recent research in the field of international and intercultural education calls practitioners and policy makers to integrate a formal intercultural education component into the study abroad experience. There is still much to be learned about the effectiveness and impacts of these "interventions". Through an investigation of one of the largest and most established online cultural mentoring courses offered, Global Identity (University of Minnesota), this study aims to show student perceptions and impacts of online cultural mentoring at various stages of the experience. The research questions are: 1) In what ways and to what degree does an online cultural mentoring intervention influence the in-country learning experience? 2) In what ways and to what degree does on-line cultural mentoring influence broader intercultural competencies (intercultural development and/or global-mindedness)? 3) In what ways and to what degree does an on-line cultural intervention influence the way in which participants value, see relevance in, identify and articulate intercultural skills and perspectives in their lives today? A mixed methods approach is utilized, using both quantitative and qualitative methods for purposes of triangulation of data as well as achieving deeper understanding and further explanation of quantitative findings. The population consists of students who studied abroad between Fall 2008 and Fall 2011. Using a matched pair design, students who also participated in an online cultural mentoring (OCM) course were matched statistically to students not exposed to the course. Results suggest significant positive effects of OCM on in-country learning and broader intercultural competencies and skills. These findings, in combination with its relatively low operating and administration cost, suggest that OCM shows promise as a feasible and scalable cultural mentoring option. Qualitative analysis largely supports the quantitative findings and sheds additional light on subtle but important differences in how OCM participants articulate and value intercultural skills and perspectives, compared to non-OCM participants. Policy implications and research recommendations are offered.
University of Minnesota Ph.D. dissertation. December 2013. Major: Organizational Leadership, Policy, and Development. Advisors: R. Michael Paige,
Gerald Fry. 1 computer file (PDF); xi, 180 pages, appendix p. 162-180.
Smith, Ann Lynn.
Mentoring in the Moment: Influences of online cultural mentoring on in-country learning and intercultural competencies.
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