Transformative learning : a framework for outcomes assessment of university study abroad experiences

Degree Name

MA in International Education

First Advisor

Linda Gobbo


The focus of this capstone is the transformative potential of a study abroad experience in university students' lives. The study, carried out with four returning study abroad students from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro, utilized a phenomenological approach in which in-depth interviews were conducted and fully transcribed. The qualitative data collected through this purposeful sample resulted in a thorough and in-depth analysis of the perceived outcomes of returning study abroad university students. The students' perceptions, analyzed within the transformative learning framework, allowed the researcher to determine that the study abroad experience indeed triggers a transformational learning process. In the light of the transformative learning theory, this paper proposes a framework for a model of outcomes assessment of study abroad experiences. The study delineates recommendations for the development of an outcomes assessment within the higher education context. The conclusions aim to contribute to the field of international education with the hopes of improving pre-departure and re-entry programs addressed to study abroad students.

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