Title

Tourism or unique learning opportunity? : issues in short-term study abroad programs

Publication Date

1-1-2000

Degree Name

MA in International and Intercultural Management

First Advisor

Linda Gobbo

Abstract

In 1999, as a study abroad advisor at the University of Massachusetts-Amherst I traveled to Northern Ireland with a group of 18 undergraduate business students, during spring break. This experience led to my interest in short-term study abroad programs, particularly those embedded in an on-campus course. The study abroad experience is essentially the "lab of the course". I surveyed the literature in the field of study abroad, and conducted extensive searches of short-term programs and from those searches I developed my research questions. What is a model of short-term study abroad programs which integrates cultural awareness into the coursework? My sub-questions were: Which strategies can make these programs as enriching as possible? What do study abroad advisors think students gain from short-term study abroad programs? What obstacles hinder study abroad advisors from integrating cultural awareness into short-term and embedded programs? I conducted semi-structured interviews with three study abroad advisors and two faculty leaders of embedded programs. I then developed a survey which I sent out on SECUSS-L. From this survey I discovered that faculty lead and initiate the creation of these programs 95% of the time, study abroad offices are doing 75% - 95% of the administrative work for these programs, 100% of institutions survey conduct a pre-departure orientation, and study abroad advisors believe that students' attitudes are influenced positively as a result of their participation in short-term programs. In addition, I created a new model of embedded short-term programs, and uncovered obstacles to its implementation. This model was an adaptation of Kolb's experiential learning cycles and contains four components: goal setting, fact-oriented information, orientations, and the learning-how-to-learn approach. Obstacles to this model are the institutions' level of centralized or decentralized short-term program administration; and the experiential model of learning could be difficult for faculty members to utilize in their coursework.

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