Evaluating Saint Michael’s College Short-Term Program To Ghana For Impact On Students’ Personal Development Based On The Principles Of Transformative Learning

Degree Name

MA in International Education

First Advisor

David Shallenberger


This capstone research project evaluates the impact of an embedded short-term study-abroad program to Ghana through Saint Michael’s College by utilizing Mezirow’s transformative learning theory. The case study resulted in participant quotes of personal development which informed future program design and delivery. The study-abroad program to Ghana was led twice, once in May/June 2005 and once in December/January 2006/07 with eight participants per program. Out of 16 total participants, 10 completed a written survey and seven completed an interview to determine if a change in the participants’ frame of reference occurred as a result of participating in the program. The responses were compiled and coded based on Mezirow’s contexts of learning. It was shown that Mezirow’s contexts of learning are the backbone of a transformative experience. If a participant reflects critically on their past experiences in light of their new experiences, is motivated to learn, has a command of the language, and a good self image, personal development leading to learning can occur. Through the research conducted for the paper it was determined that all respondents gained personal development through participation in the program to Ghana. The lasting effects of the transformation gained through participating in the program to Ghana have yet to be determined as this is beyond the scope of this study. The research conducted for this paper will inform future short-term programs abroad through Saint Michael’s College, as a list of best practices has been determined from the data. In addition, this paper provides support for the transformational effects of embedded short-term programs abroad.


Educational Psychology | International and Comparative Education

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