Group Dynamics and Study Abroad: A Case Study of Group Development in a Field-Based “Island” Study Abroad Program

Degree Name

MA in International Education

First Advisor

William Hoffa


Group dynamics have enormous impacts on students’ overall study abroad experience on field-based “island” programs. However, these impacts are largely under-researched in both the field of international education and group dynamics. This capstone aims to explore group dynamics in field-based “island” study abroad programs, and specifically how models of group development apply to student groups.

This case study was conducted during one semester-long School for Field Studies (SFS) study abroad program in Australia. Students participated in group building activities and underwent a brief training in Tuckman’s model of group development during program orientation, and later completed questionnaires to capture their perceptions on their group development over the course of the semester. Findings largely indicated that students misunderstood their group development and the application of Tuckman’s stages to their own experience. The results could influence SFS program design and their prioritization of student group development within the larger experiential academic curriculum. Students’ general reflections on how group dynamics affected their overall study abroad experience could have implications for scholars and professionals in group dynamics and international education.


International and Comparative Education

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