Short-term study abroad, often in the instructor-led model, is growing nationally with 60% of students enrolling in programs of this length in 2012-13 (IIE, 2013). Higher education institutions’ mission statements often state that creating individuals who respect diversity or have an “international and global understanding” is a goal (Meacham & Gaff. 2006, p. 9). Study abroad is viewed as a premier vehicle to guide students to achieve this more sophisticated worldview. Current education abroad research is not clear on whether intercultural sensitivity can be increased through a short-term, instructor-led program experience. Previous studies often use metrics to compare year-long or semester length programs to short-term study abroad programs. This comparative focus has led to very little research on interventions that may enhance intercultural learning on short-term, instructor-led programs. This study examines eight instructor-led programs and aims to examine if intercultural learning can occur on an instructor-led program and what influence the instructor may have on this important learning outcome. The research questions are: 1) How does the program instructor influence students’ cultural gains and learning during instructor-led study abroad? 1a) What is the impact of guided reflection on students’ cultural gains? 1b) What is the impact of debriefing or not debriefing critical incidents during time abroad? 1c) Does the leader’s intercultural sensitivity level influence students’ intercultural sensitivity? 2) What other factors influence students’ intercultural learning? 2a) Does prior language learning influence students’ intercultural sensitivity? 2b) Does gender influence students’ intercultural sensitivity? 2c) Does challenge, including location, during study abroad influence students’ intercultural sensitivity during instructor-led study abroad? 2d) Does interaction with host-country locals influence students’ intercultural sensitivity during instructor-led study abroad? A sequential quantitative to qualitative mixed methods design was employed to understand first if students could increase their intercultural sensitivity during an instructor-led program and second if these gains were related to the instructor. The population consisted of 105 students who studied abroad on three and a half week instructor-led programs in May and June of 2014. The results of the pre to post study abroad scores on the Intercultural Development Inventory showed the population made significant gains of 6.7 points, 28% made gains into another stage and overall 73% of students made positive movement on the IDI. There was, however, much variability among the programs. The interviews from instructor and students showed that students having a basic understanding of intercultural frameworks, along with frequent and spontaneous facilitation by the instructor was the best method to mentor students to make greater intercultural sensitivity gains. Policy implications and research recommendations are offered to conclude the study.
University of Minnesota Ph.D. dissertation. May 2016. Major: Organizational Leadership, Policy, and Development. Advisor: Gerald Fry. 1 computer file (PDF); vii, 207 pages.
Instructor Influence on Student Intercultural Learning During instructor-led, Short-Term Study Abroad.
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