Publication Date

2005

Abstract

This capstone research project explores the outcomes of short-term experiential education abroad programs as revealed through the narration of student's experiences. The case study resulted in reflective stories of student's experiences, process and outcomes that can inform program design and delivery. This case study took place on the campus of Maryville College, a small, private, liberal arts college in Maryville, Tennessee. The main subjects of this study were students who participated in one of three January-term programs, and the faculty leaders of the programs. Methods of data-gathering included: student participant surveys, individual interviews of both faculty and students and review of program documents, literature and course journals. The outcomes expressed by students were grouped into several categories: personal identity, appreciation of different perspectives, role as a global citizen, knowledge of cultural differences, and desire to travel. Data analysis demonstrated that various program elements including host interaction, faculty role, and opportunities for reflection played a role in helping students find meaning in their experiences. While some students have not yet figured out how to apply the learning to their lives, other students have taken specific steps to implement their learning in their lives. Findings from this study may be used to instigate discussions around strategies for identifying and utilizing teachable moments, informing short-term program curriculum development and outcome assessment strategies. As institutions attempt to achieve institutional goals, target non-traditional groups of students, and develop new program types, data on assessment of student outcomes will become increasingly relevant and even essential.

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