Publication Date

2001

Abstract

For nearly twelve years Virginia Wesleyan College has supported a study abroad program with Madero University in Puebla, Mexico. This program has experienced both problems and successes. Should the program be viewed as an unqualified success, a limited success, or a failure? College staff members have raised questions about how a program of this kind should be evaluated, measured, monitored and improved. The answers to these questions were not obvious. Thus making it difficult to answer does Virginia Wesleyan's Puebla Exchange Program measure up? A significant research effort was required to understand the program. The research included reading published literature about the field of study abroad, examining relevant college documents, and interviewing program participants and overseers. The program goals, program agreement and participant cultural adjustment are some of the topics discussed in this Capstone paper. I also sought to clarify what criteria should be used to determine how the program is performing. For comparison I examined the Chihuahua Program of Midwestern State University. Through comparing and contrasting the two programs, I came to understand some of the strengths and weaknesses of each program. I also found that some of the circumstances encountered by participants aid in the learning process while others impede the learning process. Identifying and separating the two types of circumstances has clear potential benefits for program improvement. It is hoped that the results of this study will be useful in helping Virginia Wesleyan College to ensure that the Puebla Program effectively meets its goals.

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