Graduate Study Abroad: Student Learning, Pedagogy, and Outcomes

Graduate Study Abroad: Student Learning, Pedagogy, and Outcomes

John M. Dirkx (Michigan State University, USA), Kristin A. Janka (Michigan State University, USA), Julie Sinclair (Michigan State University, USA) and Gina R. Vizvary (George Mason University, USA)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-0169-5.ch021
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Graduate-level study abroad represents an important and expanding dimension of efforts to internationalize Higher Education (HE) in the United States (US). Graduate study abroad represents a kind of learning experience that is informed by its location within graduate education. Using transformative learning theory, the authors conducted a qualitative study of 52 doctoral students who participated in study abroad programs in four countries. The findings suggest that students use multiple frames to make sense of these experiences and can be characterized as academic, relational, or deep. These frames reflect varying levels of engagement of the student's self, indicating a complex integration of the personal and professional in the study abroad experience. Analysis of narratives suggests that the dominant impact of the experiences was an expansion of the students' sociolinguistic awareness. Few students provided narratives indicating reflection on and questioning of their psychological frames of reference, suggesting possible constraints of the overall program design, pedagogy, or both.
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Literature Review

In this review of the literature, we argue that that relatively little is known from a scholarly perspective about graduate study abroad and, because of the nature of graduate students and their curricular foci, there is a need to attend to graduate study abroad as a distinct form of practice and research.

Key Terms in this Chapter

Transformative Learning: Transformative learning is a process of enhancing consciousness through transformation of frames of reference or basic world views and awareness and understanding of one’s self. This process is fostered by consciously directed processes such as working imaginatively with symbolic content received from the unconscious and critically analyzing underling premises and assumptions about one’s self and one’s being in the world.

Short-Term Study Abroad: Study abroad that is less than eight weeks in duration.

Faculty-Led: Study abroad programs that are led by faculty/staff in contrast to study abroad programs where students direct enroll in a university abroad.

Graduate Study Abroad: Study abroad that is at the graduate-level (Master’s and Doctoral) and can include group and individual experiences.

Internationalization: The process and means by which educational institutions incorporate an international dimension to the institution including: increasing international content and perspectives in curriculum, increasing international students and faculty at the institution, and opportunities for students and faculty to study and research abroad.

Graduate Learning, Experiences and Outcomes (GLEO): The landscape of graduate study abroad, a research agenda focusing on understanding the nature of graduate-level study abroad including group and individual experiences.

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