An Investigation of the Transformative Learning Potential of Study Abroad Programs


Material Information

An Investigation of the Transformative Learning Potential of Study Abroad Programs
Physical Description:
1 online resource (90 p.)
Strange, Hannah Elizabeth
University of Florida
Place of Publication:
Gainesville, Fla.
Publication Date:

Thesis/Dissertation Information

Master's ( M.S.)
Degree Grantor:
University of Florida
Degree Disciplines:
Recreation, Parks, and Tourism, Tourism, Recreation, and Sport Management
Committee Chair:
Gibson, Heather J
Committee Members:
Kumaran, Muthusami
Stepchenkova, Svetlana O


Subjects / Keywords:
abroad -- cultural -- distance -- education -- experiential -- international -- learning -- length -- study -- transformation -- transformative
Tourism, Recreation, and Sport Management -- Dissertations, Academic -- UF
Recreation, Parks, and Tourism thesis, M.S.
bibliography   ( marcgt )
theses   ( marcgt )
government publication (state, provincial, terriorial, dependent)   ( marcgt )
born-digital   ( sobekcm )
Electronic Thesis or Dissertation


Recent literature has stated that study abroad is becoming a necessary part of undergraduate education. Despite criticism of their ability to provide the same student development outcomes, students are participating in short-term instead of semester-long programs. This study used transformative learning to investigate impact of program length, type, and cultural distance on perspective transformation. A post-trip online survey was used to measure the degree of transformative learning achieved. Students responded to a transformative learning scale to evaluate their perspective transformation.Participants were asked about program type, learning components, host country,and program length. The primary analysis tools were frequencies, ANOVA, and thematic content analyses. Differences in transformative learning were found between the short and medium, long and extra-long program groups. Programs18 days or shorter had significantly lower levels of transformative learning.Statistics showed that transformative learning was significantly lower in one of the culturally similar groups, compared to the other three cultural distance groups, however this finding is inconclusive. There were no statistical differences among program type and experiential learning on overall transformative learning. This study shows that shorter programs may not achieve the same degree of transformative learning as longer programs, although the results show that students may not need to be abroad for an entire semester. This is the first study to provide empirical support for this much discussed contention and is a starting point for future research in this area. For study abroad programmers this study provides ideas about program length and providing beneficial learning outcomes.
General Note:
In the series University of Florida Digital Collections.
General Note:
Includes vita.
Includes bibliographical references.
Source of Description:
Description based on online resource; title from PDF title page.
Source of Description:
This bibliographic record is available under the Creative Commons CC0 public domain dedication. The University of Florida Libraries, as creator of this bibliographic record, has waived all rights to it worldwide under copyright law, including all related and neighboring rights, to the extent allowed by law.
Statement of Responsibility:
by Hannah Elizabeth Strange.
Thesis (M.S.)--University of Florida, 2012.
Adviser: Gibson, Heather J.
Electronic Access:

Record Information

Source Institution:
Rights Management:
Applicable rights reserved.
lcc - LD1780 2012
System ID:

This item is only available as the following downloads:

Full Text




2 2012 Hannah Elizabeth Strange


3 To my loving parents Sue and John St range, for saying yes, and figuring it out later


4 ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS This study was only accomplished with the continuing support of many individuals. First and foremost I wish to thank my committee chair Dr. Heather Gibson, for introducing me to the world of study abroad. I cannot thank you enough f or int roducing me to a career I already know I am going to love. Thank you also for the countless hours of guidance, reading, and feedback as I completed this project. Thanks also go to Dr. Svetlana Stepchenkova Dr. Muthusami Kumaran, and Liza Berdychevsky for your continued support and statistical guidance. Furthermore I wish to thank Kirsten Laufer, Dena Roberts, and Eleanor Mitchell for your insight into International Education and the opportunities you have given me through the years. I would also like to thank my University of Florida family: the UF Speech and Debate team, specifically Kellie Roberts, Marna Weston, Amy Martinelli, and Idania Herrera. Your encouragement and instruction has been invaluable to me through the last 5 years. Finally, to my family. To my mother, father, grandparents Hannah Rogers You have been an incalculable support to me, providing endless love, enduring many a breakdown and encouraging me to believe in myself. I think I might finally have that 10/10.


5 TABLE OF CONTENTS P age ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS. 4 LIST OF TABLES. 7 CHAPTER 1 C once Transformative L earning T Expe riential L earning T 18 20 2 REVIEW OF THE LITERATURE ....................26 .....................29 3 MET Partic Sample Characteri Instr u ment 4 T ransformative Learning Aspects of S Research Question


6 Open ende d .. 47 Transformative Lea Value systems and global Program L ength Experiential Co mponent A Su 5 5 DISCUSSION AND CONCLUSION 65 Program Len 66 ............... 69 Cultural Di 71 Summary and Im 72 Recommendations for 74 Limitat ions Delimitat 7 Conclu 7 APPENDIX A STUDY ABROAD SURVEY .79 B EMAILS SENT TO STUDENTS REQUESTING PARTICIPATION C UF LIST OF 8 5 9 0


7 LIST OF TABLES Table page 3 1 Sample Characteristics .41 4 1 4 2 57 4 3 One way ANOVA for difference in transformative learning by program length .. .58 4 4 ...59 4 5 Frequencies of learning components experienced by students while on study abroad .60 4 6 Frequencies for study abroad program t ype 4 7 One way ANOVA results for difference in transformative learning among program ...62 4 8 One way ANOVA results for difference in transformative learning across cultural ..63 4 9 Tukey post hoc res


8 Abstract of Thesis Presented to the Graduate School of the University of Florida in Partial Fulfillment of the Requirements for the Degree of Master of Science AN INVESTIGATION OF THE TRANSFORMATIVE LEARNING POTENTIAL OF STUDY ABROAD PROGRAMS By Hannah Elizabeth Strange December 2012 Chair: Heather Gibson Major: Recreation, Parks, and Tourism Recent literature has stated that study abroad is becoming a necessary part of undergraduate education. Despite criticism of their ability to provide the same student development outcomes, s tudents are participating in short term instead of semester long p rograms. This study used transformative learning to investigate impact of program length, type, and cultural distance on perspective transformation. A post trip online survey was used to measure the degree of transformative learning achieved. Students resp ond ed to a transformative learning scale to evaluate their perspective transformation. Participants were asked a bout program type, learning components, host country and program length. The primary analysis tools were frequencies, ANOVA and thematic conte nt analyses. Differences in transformative learning were found between the short and medium, long and extra long program groups P rograms 18 days or shorter had significantly lower levels of transformative learning. Statistics showed that transformative l earning was significantly lower in one of the culturally similar groups, compared to the other three cultural distance groups, however this finding is


9 inconclusive. There were no statistical differences among program type and experiential learning on overall transformative learning This study shows that shorter programs may not achieve the same degree of transformative learning as longer programs, although the results show that students may not need to be abroad for an entire semester. This is the fir st study to provide empirical support for this much discussed contention and I s a start ing point for future research in this area. For study abroad programmers this study provides ideas about program length and providing beneficial learning outcomes.


10 CHAPTER 1 INTRODUCTION It is now wi dely accepted by many US post secondary institutions, if not the students themselves, that study abroad is a necessary component of any undergraduate education (Tarrant, 2010). Once reserved as a luxury for those who sought to invest in a globalized society, Steves (2012) asse rts that given the increasingly intertwined international environment, we must now comprehend that an international education is a necessity if the US is to produce effective leaders and innovators in the 21st century. Furthermore, t he Commission of the Abraham Lincoln Study Abroad Fellowship Program (2005 ) explains that what nations do not know absolutely can hurt them The commission argues that education in the US is critically lacking in globalized expe rience, so for the future of all students, and of the nation, international competencies need to be prioritized. An initial awareness of international education occurred after World War II, but the Institute of International Education (2009) reports that it is in the past five years that we have seen a large increase in the number of program opportunities and partnerships offered to college students. Indeed, i t has been suggeste d that travel as a method of learning is valuable for (Robalik 2006 ) Travel has long been thought to pro vide the stimulation, challenges, and opportunities required for substantive interpersonal and intercultural learning to occ ur (Vogt, 1976 ). One of the most popular modes of educational youth travel in the United States is study abroad (Welch, 2010). UNES CO statistics (2004 ), show that worldwide more than 1.5 million students studied abroad in 2003. In the 200 9/10 academic year, 2 70,604 US students studied


11 abroad (Institu te International Education, 2011 ). This statistic represents a 3.9 % increase from the year before, yet it is still les s than 2% of US students in the higher education system Wh ile the statistics are cautionary in their own right, it is in the outcomes of international education that research is inconclusive The i ntercul tural goals of study abroad programs are ill defined and frequently go unmeasured (Ritz, 2011). Despite the pervasive philosophy that study abroad learning objectives should go beyond academic content, there has been a lack of attention placed on achieving holistic outcomes in large numbers of programs (Pedersen, 2010). Considering that study abroad is a substantial commitment and expense for institutions and students alike, it is important to know the impacts that vari ous types of programs have on students (Hensley & Sell, 1979). At institutions such as Harvard, study abroad wi ll soon be a degree requirement; if this is going to be an indicator of the future of study abroad, it should be deemed necessary to mon itor the impacts of international education (Ta rrant, 2010). In doing this it will be possible to not only guarantee that every student has the opportunity to experience a globalized education, but also ensure that it is bene ficial in preparing them for a n increasingly interconnected world In order to ensure that students who do study abroad are truly benefiting from their programs, it is essen tial to understand whether students are or are not gaining cul tural and academic competencies. Additionally there needs to be an understanding as to what type s of environment are most conducive to providing a transformative education. Mezirow (2003), states that t ransformative learning encompasses a life enhancing change (Brown, 2009). W here students have experienced t ransformative learning, they are often more inclusive, discriminating, open, reflective and emotionally


12 able to change ultimately showing higher connectedness to the global environment (Mezirow, 2003) It is possible that t ransformative learning is more frequently seen in study abroad when an exper iential learning program has been executed (Perry, 2011). Perry further explains that e xperiential learning is defined as the type of education whereby knowledge and meaning are grounded through an active extens ion of experiences. Furthermore, it is possi ble that the cultural distance between the host country and the United States impacts the amount of learning achi eved (Klooster, van Wijk, Go & Rekom, 2008). Cultural distance is defined as a measurement of the overall difference between the subtle, intang ible, and complex nature of two cultures (Shenkar 2001; Galtung, 1965; Kogut & Singh, 1988). Bhawak and Breslin (2000) suggest that where there is a greater cultural distance, culture shock is likely to be higher and thus learning is affected. Through t he use of transformative and experiential l earning theory applied to various programming, including programs in countries with varying levels of cultural distance, perhaps a greater understanding of the academic, personal, intercultural and professional ou tcomes that students are experiencing may be forthcoming Statement of the Problem While there is a collective assertion that effective study abroad programs will result in learning on an academic, personal, professional and intercultural level, there is a distinct lack o f empirical support or consensus as to which type of program is most effective in achieving the s e goal s (Anderson Lawton, Rexeisen, & Hubbard, 2006 ). There are many different types of study abroad programs. L ength can vary from one


13 week to one academic year, programs c an be an exchange program, located through a provider, or faculty led, and to date very little is known about what teaching style is most appropriate for various programs (Hoff, 2005). Research to date has focused almost ent irely on the academic outcomes of study abroad, statistics on participation and satisfaction, motivation, or the opportunity for students to experience change in their g lobal citizenry (Pedersen, 2010; Tarrant, 2010). Subsequently it has been difficult to narrow down any program characteristics that result in more beneficial outcomes for the student and society as a whole. Study abroad has gradually become more attractive to students wishing to experience an international education Unfortunately many stud y abroad workers have not taken into account exactly what is gained through international studies or encourage d quality programming (Hoff). Due to the annual increase in the number of students studying abroad, Hoff indicates that it is essential to now foc us not only on getting students to participate, but a lso on the anticipated outcomes While the proportion of students have increased threefold in the last decade (Institute of International Education, 2011), approximately 50 % of those students are partici pating in programs less than six weeks in length (Chieffo & Griffiths. 2004). Though the popularity of these programs has a positive impact on statistics showing outgoing students, there has been criticism of their ability to provide similar levels of tran sformative learning (Ritz, 2011). Currently, few studies have examined the potential for short term programs to have as much impact as traditional long term programs (Ritz. 2011). In addition while some programs provide 24/7 field experience, lecturer av ailability and a diverse teaching staff, others simply transfer credit from one traditional institution to


14 another (Aguilar & Gingerich. 2002). Some programs do little more than place the students in a practically identical classroom that happens to be in a different country, while others are intense holistic learning experiences. Because of these differences Aguilar and Gingerich argue that study abroad is not experiential by definition and all programs are not created e qual This seems to suggest there i s a lack of knowledge on programming components and their impact on the benefi ts and outcomes of study abroad warrants further study. Another aspect of study abroad that has been overlooked in previous literature is cultural distance. Shenkar (2001) defines cultural distance as a conceptualization of the complex, intangible differences between cultures, where a high cultural distance indicates a large number of cultural differences between the home and host countries. According to Ng, Lee and Soutar (2007) cultural distance can have a significant impact on the amount of culture shock a student experiences, ultimately impacting their overall educational experience. Rohrlich (1991) further explains that depending on the cultural distance, student s will have different relationships with the host country and experience different levels of psychological dist ress and change. Ultimately cultural distance has a potentially significant impact on the student experience and as such warrants further investi gation within the realm of international education. Between the variety of long term programs, lack of r esearch on short term programs and the impact of cultural distance as well as the influx of independent educational travel providers, it is essential t o identify program characteristics that are most likely to contribute to a


15 Conceptual Framework In order to most effectively investigate the potentially transformative and holistic outcomes of study abroad, this study used transformative learning theory and experiential learning theory as combined conceptual frameworks. Transformative Learning Theory Originating out of the adult/continuing education field, transformation was first used by Mezirow in 1978 (Kitchenham, 2008). Mezirow (1991 ) asserts that only through reflection, active learning, and placing ourselves in an uncomfortable situation are we fully able to develop our understanding of the world and of ourselves If students are to be empowered to become globally integrated citizens, a rigorous learning compact should be applied in program design (Aguilar & Gingerich, 2002). Tarrant (2010 ) sugg ests that transformative learning t heory has the potential to provide the critical framework necessary to test the appropriateness of various program aspects currently popular in study abroad. Transformative l earning was born o ut of a constructivist parad igm which means we construct our knowledge based on our experiences in the world (Moore, 2005). Transformative l earning is achieved when a change occurs to our f rame of r eference as a result of an event or experience (Mezirow, 1997). As a consequence of ou r societal, cultural, and personal upbringing we have subconsciously formed a f rame of r eference which refers to the way in which we view and interpret the world, thereby driving our actions (Paga no & Roselle, 2009). Frames of r eference are built up from what Mezirow (1997) terms habits of mind and points of view. Habits of mind are expansive personal theories about the world that are changed with difficulty, such as ethnocentrism. Points


16 of view are smaller scale ideas that are related to our values, judg ments and attitudes towards specific actions or ideas; they are constantly regenerating depending on the world around us (Mezirow, 1997). Mezirow (2003 ) explains that w e define our world based on our frame of reference, where a change occurs to our frame of reference, we can expect to see a subsequent ch ange in action. Mezirow (2003), suggests that b ecause of the existence of these pre conceived notions, learning must occur through a four stage process: 1. Elaborate our existing point of view, 2. Establis h a new point of view, 3. Transform our point of view or 4. Become aware of the world around us and be critically reflective of our environment and actions (Mezirow, 1997). Our ability to change our frame of reference allows us to build professional compet encies such as analytical problem solving, planning and organizing, communication, teamwork and global understanding. Mezirow (1997 ) argues that t ransformative learning encourages us to be more inclusive, self reflective and integrative Having explained frames of r eference, it is necessary to understand the three methods that encourage transformation. Mezirow (1991 ) explains that there are three different domains of learning that are integral in s frame of reference : instrumental, communicative, and emancipatory. Essentially, these domains refer to different methods that students use to promote change. Instrumental learning emphasizes technica l and manipulative learning for instance learning thro ugh a task. Communicative learning is the most frequent as it is achieved through understanding ideas, or assisting others in understanding. Finally, emancipatory learning is where the student is able to independently identify the


17 meaning perspectives that they currently hold and subsequently challenge those that they consider to be distorted (Mezirow, 1991). In the context of study abroad, Taylor (1998) applied p erspective transformation, which is the process of altering our meaning structures. Meaning structures are culturally acquired subconscious perspectives that build our f rame of reference. Perspective t ransformation is achieved through the progression of a ten stage process : 1. Ex perience a disorienting dilemma. 2. Self examine and feel guilt or shame about your perspective. 3. Cri tically assess your assumptions. 4. Recognize tha t these changes occur in others. 5. Explore options for a new perspective 6. Plan new actions 7. Acquire new skil ls 8. Provisionally attempt a new frame of mind 9. Build competence in new ideas and 10. Fully reintegrate into life (Mezirow, 1991). When students experien ce a perspective transformation their new meaning structures become more inclusive, differentiat ing, permeable, critically reflective and integrative of experience (Taylor, 1998). Critical Self Reflection of Assumptions (CSRA) is an essential aspect of Perspective Transformation (Mezirow, 1997) To achieve growth and learning we must be conscious of our own assumptions and the assumptions of others. In order to facilitate the growth of our skills we must practice recognizing different frames of reference, use our imaginations to reconceptualize global problems and consciously participate in cross cul tural discourse (Mezirow, 1997). Frames of r eference that are frequently taken for granted include political orientation, cultural bias, stereotyped attitudes, religious doctrine, moral ethical norms, psychological preference, aesthetic values and occupat ional ideologies (Mezirow, 2003). Study abroad programs that are


18 structured to allow extensive discourse and self reflection are more likely t o allow students to experience t ransformative learning. Professors, lecturers and program designers need to under stand the social aspect of learning and encourage the idea that through the use of group projects, case studies, simulations, debates, and other reflect ive activities, students are likely to become more actively engaged in the class and with each other. Tr ansformative learning theory promotes the idea that educators should act as facilitators, communicating on the same level as students, not as an authority in order to create maximum potential for transformation (Mezirow, 1997). When applied to internationa l education, an overreaching goal of t ransformative learning is to move students from perspectives that have allowed ethnocentrism and dualistic epistemologies and allow the creation of a new f rame of r eference that promotes cultural pluralism (Berwick & W halley, 2000). Experiential Learning Theory E xperiential learning is used widely through study abroad literature and therefore it is essential to understand exactly what is meant by this concept. In its most basic description, experiential education is a way to learn, but also a way of connecting with the community (Pagano & Roselle, 2009). Philosophized by John Dewey (1997), experiential learning emphasizes that contrary to popular belief, experie nces are not educational in their own right, but rather need to be reflected upon and analyzed until learning is achieved (Aguilar & Gingerich, 2002; Perry, 2011). Aguilar and Gingerich further explain that e xperiences have the potential to become knowledg e if they are applied and tested through a ctions


19 Perry (2011) explains that e xperiential learning t heory moves one step on from the definition of experiential learning and argues that there is a four stage process to go through before experiential learn ing can be said to have been achieved First students must have a concrete experience, second students should achieve a reflective observation of the event that occurred, third students need to abstractly conceptualize what can be learne d from the exper ience, before finally actively experi menting with the knowledge they have gained until it has been grounded solidly into what is know n about the world. In an e xperiential framework, learning is understood to be a social process in which students must activ ely engage in order to achieve educational progression (Mezirow, 1997; Tarrant, 2010). In the context of study abroad, experiential learning can make a considerable ability to understand globally complex problems (Kiely, 2004). Ex periential education has the potential to play a critical role in the values and behaviors that students take from study abroad programs, making it essential that programmers fully consider the potential holistic outcomes of their programs and how they are best achieved (Tarrant, 2010; Ritz, 2011). Transformative and e xperiential learning t heory both assert that in order to maximize educational outcomes students need to be afforded the opportunity to interact with the world around them, critically reflect and analyze their experiences before applying them toward new actions. In identifying the elements that most effectively contribute to a t ransformative outcome, students and society c an be more positively impacted and the conceptual foundation for this stu dy can be formed.


20 Purpose of the Study The purpose of the study was to investigate the transformative learning potential of different types of study abroad programs Specific ally, this study examine d the influence o f program length, experiential learning and cultural distance of the destination visited on transformative learning outcomes. Research Questions The research questions addressed in this study are as foll ows: 1. Does transformative learning occur on study abroad programs ? 2. Do es transformative learning differ by program length? 3. Does transformative learning differ by degree of experiential learning offered? 4. Does transformative learning differ by cultural distance experienced?


21 CHAPTER 2 LITERATURE REVIEW Study Abroad According to Anderson Lawton, Rexeisen and Hubbard (2006), the past decade has shown a dramatic increase in the number of institutions offering study abroad or other educational travel opportunities, so much so that various universities are now u sing their study abroad programs as a method of recruiting students to their institution. This increase has likely been born out of a desire to prepare students to compete in a glo balized knowledge economy (Hoff 2005). McCabe (1994 ) explains that while th e push for a globalized education has existed for some time, it is only more recen tly that institutions and administrators of higher education have found it necessary to move the international aspects of curricula from the domestic classroom into an actual international experience Abrams (1960) suggests that due to the similarities between the goals of higher education and study abroad, many higher education professionals have come out in support of educational travel experiences. Higher education is suppo sed to foster intellectual and professional development, personal growth and cultural education (Abrams). All of these goals are reflected in the curricula of study abroad programs, prompting the substantial growth in program offerings in the past 50 years Similarly, Carr (2005) argues that there has been a collective realization amongst students that travel, and particularly educational travel can have an immense impact on their personal and professional growth. Carr explains that students, particularly those under 25 have a high predisposition to participate in travel and tourism regardless of the financial consequences. Furthermore, Carlson and Widaman (1988) discuss that


22 students, as well as academics have begun to realize that study abroad provides t hem with new and diffe r ent perspectives on life, potentially impacting their future. Study Abroad Outcomes Numerous studies over recent years have empirically tested the outcomes of study abroad on the students who participate. One of the most common conclusions is that study abroad programs significantly enhance a ability to see the world through a global perspective and experience cross cultural understanding (Carlson & Widaman, 1988; Dolby, 2004; Hoff 2005; Ritz, 2011). Extensive research has also suggested many other outcomes from study abroad programs. Hoff argues that one of the most fundamental outcomes of study abroad is the ability to understand the world from the viewpoint of ano ther. Carlson and Wid aman explain that this ability to see various points of view is critical as it allows us to pinpoint what our own culture looks like. They suggest that t he ability to define our own culture is essential in order to successfully mediate others, an indispens able skill for the 21st century Furthermore, Anderson et al. (2006) indicate that study abroad prepares students for interacting with people that have alternate political and personal orientations, furthering the idea that programs encourage students to s ee the world from many different viewpoints. Another group of outcomes is centered on students becoming more interactive with the international stage. Research has often found that students returning from international programs are more interested in int ernational affairs, less ethnocentric, and have a higher level of concern for internation al politics (Carlson & Widaman ; Dukes, Lockwood, Oliver, Pezalla & Wilker, 1994; Kitsantas, 2004 ). Carlson and Widaman


23 (1988) also indicate that post program students are frequently more cross culturally cosmopolitan, giving them a heightened ability to not only be interested in cross cultural affairs, but also effectively navigate the international stage Additionally, Kitsantas (2004) multiculturalism that is necessary post graduation. All of these factors indicate extensive international education outcomes produced from study abroad programs. Outcom es can also be seen on a personal and professional development level. Educational travel has been considered a fundamental springboard for personal growth and development (Dukes et al. 1994). Kitstantas found that p rograms increase emotional resilience, o penness and flexibility to change, and personal autonomy ( Kitsantas ). Dukes et al. also state that study abroad allows us to capitalize on earlier senses of purpose ; it prompts self reflection, discovery, appraisal and increases leve ls of self esteem Pro gram Length While there has been a steady increase in number of students studying abroad in the past 16 years, Dwyer (2004) points out that there has simultaneously been a dramatic decrease in the average length of program According to the Institute of International Education Open Doors Project (2011), in the 20 09/10 academic year 56.6% of US students studying abroad were on programs shorter than eight weeks in length, while traditional yea r programs were only 3.9% of the total. Comparatively, in the 1 98 5/6 academic year 17.7% of students were studying on academic year programs (Dwyer, 2004). Furthermore, the National Association for Foreign Student Advisers (NAFSA) Guide to Education for Advisers and Administrators (2002) states short term


24 study abroad p rograms are the fastest growing sector in the international education industry. Considering these trends Engle and Engle (2003) suggest that academia and the study abroad industry need to reorient their focus from sheer numbers to quality of programming. Short term programs have frequently been criticized for requiring little input on the behalf of the student and not producing the same cultural outcomes as more in depth programs as they do not provide adequate time for student attitudes to change (Gadykun st, 1979; Engle & Engle, 2003; Medina Lopez Portill o 2004). Medina Lopez Portillo explains if short term programs are becoming the rule instead of the exception, it is necessary to evaluate them as a new entity of their own. Conventional wisdom in intern ational education has adhered to the ideal that more is better (Dwyer, 2004). There has been considerable skepticism among researchers as to whether short term programs have the ability to increase cultural sensitivity, change worldviews and provide perso nal and professional growth on the same level as long term programs (Anderson et al. 2006). Engle and Engle suggest that since short term program s require little linguistic or cultural preparation, they do not remove students from their comfortable enviro nment in the same way that traditional long term programs d o. The authors continue to demonstrate that students in year long l anguage acquisition programs experience considerably greater gains than students in semester programs. Dwyer supports this idea by stating that students on full year programs achieve outcomes that are more enduring and have a more significant impact even many years post program. Other criticism of short term programs suggests that since students are more likely to study abroad if offered a less academically intense study abroad program,


25 institutions are treating international education as a numbers game, taking students away from the home institution for as little time as possible (Engle & Engle, 2003). In this way insti tutions will be able to maximize profits from students while still maintaining high percentages of students studying abroad. Criticism of this kind has led to the suggestion that trips that are less than six weeks in length should be titled as field trips not as study abroad as they cannot possibly integrate a truly educational experience into such a travel oriented pro gram (Engle & Engle ). While many believe that an extensive duration is instrumental in achieving outcomes (Medina Lopez Portill o, 2004), t h ere has also been considerable argument that short term, non language based progr ams can have similar impact s to the more traditional programs (Anderson et al. 2006). Anderson et al. explain that in a group of participants traveling to England and Irela nd, there was a considerable increase in the inter cultural sensitivity of the students despite the fact that they only participated in a four week program. Similar ly Medina Lopez Portillo points out that on programs to Mexico, there was no difference in st between the seven week group and the 16 week group. Chieffo and Gr iffiths (2003) continue by indicating that short term programs can have a significant present and future impact, and be a gateway to greatly improved international awareness despite their brevity. Dwyer (2004) elaborates by stat ing that short term programs where they are well planned and intensi v e in nature can have a consider able impact on students, especially when they exceed the critical six week mark. Ritz (2011) points out that some goals such as increasing the social connection between students and professors are just as easily achieved through short term


26 programs as they are on those of traditional length. Medina Lopez Portillo (2004) concurs by stating that whether students participate in a short or long term program, either way they are often only seeing the proverbial tip of the iceberg when it comes to cultural unders tandi ng A different perspective on short term programs has indicated that they may be solely positive i n nature considering that they afford students the opportunity to participate in multiple programs across the course of their degree enabling particip ants to not only witness the worldview of one other culture, but potentially experience several (Chieffo & Griffiths, 2003). Furthermore, Ritz (2011) explains that where short term programs are intensely and truly pedagogically designed, there is n o reason that they cannot have as significant an impact as long term programs. Ultimately there is a lack of consensus in the existing research about the ability of short term progra ms to be considered as intellectually, socially and academically valuable as y ea r long programs. Current criticism centers on the fact that intense academic year programs are being placed under the same category as a three week jaunt with no true educational value (Engle & Engle, 2003). Collectively this indicates that a focus on no t only length, but also quality of programming is now necessary. Experienti al Learning C omponents As previously discussed, experiential learning is a method of education that involves learning by doing, and then reflecting on your experiences to enable knowledge to be fully grounded (Pagano & Roselle, 2009). Aguilar and Gingerich (2002) explain that ma ny believe study abroad to be experiential by nature; however they go on to suggest that this is in fact not the case. While study abroad by definition usually


27 involves some form of active l earning, this does not necessarily indicate learning is being ach ieved on an experiential level, some programs do not allow students the critical time for interaction and reflection and simply act as a means for students to gain filler credits (Aguilar & Gingerich 2002 ). Tarrant (2010 ) explains that in order to be an e ffective agent for change, experiential elements of study abroad must me extensively prepared for. Montrose (2002) goes on to explain that currently there is little understanding among study abroad providers and administrators as to exactly what constitu tes experiential learning and how it should effectively be applied to improve program structure. While all study abroad has the potential to provide experiential learning, educative, based on the i dea that no education is neutral (Aguilar & Gingerich). McKeown (2009) explains that vast numbers of current programs lack a critical structure including faculty student engagement, group discourse, and reflective exercises. Aguilar and Gingerich further t his idea by stating that reflection, critical analysis and synthesis are essential elements if programs are to reach their experiential edu cation potential. Tarrant agrees by stating that where programs, even short term ones, are experientially structured, there is a high propensity that students will achieve a new worldview by the end of the program. In order to achieve a truly experiential structure a number of different components must be considered. Montrose (2002) suggests that positively experientia l programs will have a sound academic agenda, achieved through legitimate grading, applicable course credit and allowing students to have concrete experiences while actively engaging with peers and the community as a whole. Aguilar and Gingerich


28 detail a m ore extensive list of requirements in order to achieve structured experiential education. They argue that there must be : 1. Personal integration 2. Problem based academic content 3. Critical analysis and reflection 4. Collaboration and dialogue with others 5. Community interaction 6. Diversity and intercultural communication 7. Action and social transformation 8. Mutuality and reciprocity 9. Facilitation by trained faculty and staff and 10. Evaluation and ass essment. The authors argue that where students are allowed the opportunity to complete and participate in these phases, experiential learning will have been achieved. In order to achieve this goal it is evident that considerable planning and structure is r equired. In instances where traditional classroom learning is unlikely to be effective, such as in second language acquisition, experiential learning as part of a study abroad program can be an incredibly effective method of teaching (Berwick & Whalley, 2000). Montrose (2002) explains that interactions presented in real world situations have a unique ability to challenge prevailing worldviews; additionally the traveling component encourages a per learning. These as pects can play a fundamental role in producing the desired outcomes of international education discussed earlier. Aguilar and Gingerich (2002) argue that a key advantage of th e study abroad medium is that by its nature presents the opportunity for students to test recently understood concepts on their lived experiences, providing a more grounded method for acquiring knowledge Furthermore, Aguilar and Gingerich (2002) discuss the idea that study abroad and experiential education are natural partners, whil e one does not necessarily indicate the other, the y both intend to empower students and embrace the notion of education


29 being achieved through some kind of social transformation Considering this seemingly perfect fit and the evident need for structure to be applied to study abroad programs, particularly those that are shorter in lengt h, it seems advantageous to evaluate programs on their ability to be experiential and to identify the outcomes (Pagano & Roselle, 2009; Montrose, 2002; Tarrant, 2010) Impact of Cultural Distance While modern study abroad programs vary by length, subject and design, the most obvious way in which they are varied is by location. Many universities offer programs on at least five continents and across dozens of countries. Consideri ng the extreme differences in culture that can exist across borders, it is important to consider that the level of change experienced will be different depending on what country a student goes to (Rohr lich, 1991). Ng et al.. (2007) define culture as the co nfiguration and result of learned behavior that is shared through a given society. These learned behaviors are exceptionally varied depending on the country, as well as the ethnic, soci al and regional group (Klooster, van Wijk, Go, and Rekom 2008). Ng et al. suggest that tourists experience cultural differences through observance of food, language, cleanliness, pace of life, formality, recreation, etiquette, standard of living, privacy, transportation, intimacy, and humor. Klooster et al. continue to expl ain that historically culture has been approached from three different perspectives; postmodernist, particularist, and dimensionalist. Dimensionalist researchers are traditionally social scientists and explain cultural variation as emerging from a set of d imensions. Because it is these dimensions that make up the variances, they can


30 similarly be broken down to allow measurement of differences, ultimately leading to the ability to measure the perceived distance between one culture and a nother Since human perceptions of culture are subjective, the notion of cultural distance has been formed in order to more effectively conceptualize and scale the complexities of culture (Shenkar, 2001). Kogut and Singh (1998) developed an index of cultur e that allows cultural distance to be measured by the deviance between the score of the home country and the target country. Their index is based on the four dimensions of national culture described by Hofstede (1980). The four dimensions are power distance, individual ism, masculinity and uncertainty avoidance. Hofstede explains that power distance is measured based on societal acceptance of the unequal distribution of power among institutions and organizations. Individualism is the extent to which a society has loose or closely bound relationships with each other. Masculinity is scaled by the degree to assertive, money focused and uncaring are the institutions and people. The final dimension is uncertainty avoidance, this is defined by the amount a society, or people wit hin a society feel threatened by uncertain and ambiguous situations where uncertainty avoidance is high, people perceive risk as continually higher Kogut and Singh adapted these dimensions to create a measure that could be easily calculated from seconda ry data, enabling a specific measurement of the differences between two given cultures. In order to calculate the distance, Kogut and Singh created a formula that would calculate the arithmetic average of the variance corrected differences between the host and target country. Scores were able to range from 0 to 17.93, though exact scores on the extremes are exceptionally unlikely. On the


31 initial calculation of the index one of the lowest scores was 0.02 between the United States and Australia, whereas one o f highest was 8.22, between Japan and Sweden. Since its conceptualization cultural distance has been applied to a number of different areas including international business and tourism. Ng et al. (2007) suggest that within the tourism industry cultural d istance has been found to impact intention to visit. Where there is a minimal cultural distance, such as that between Hong Kong natives and mainland China, there is a higher intention to visit. They continue to suggest that many tourists will stick to reli gious, social, and political lines to ensure that they do not experience too high o f a cultural distance However it has also been proposed that where tourists visit countries that are highly culturally distant from their own, those tourists are usually h ighly motivated to get a deeper cultural experience and more fully immerse themselves in the alternative culture. Similarly, those that stay in culturally proximate regions sought superficial entertainment and were more likely to stay in a ( Cohen, 1972; McKercher & du Cros, 2003). This application to tourism literature has also enabled cultural distance to be used in the educational travel area of research. Rohrli ch (1991) explains that one important area of concern in international educa tion is the psychological distress experienced by students when culture shock occurs. Rohrlich continues to suggest that the cultural distance often accounts for the level o f distress experienced by students, where distance is high, students do not have th e social skills to appropriate ly negotiate society (Bhawuk & Breslin, 2000). However, it has been suggested that significant cross and confusion (Klooster et al. 2008). Galtung (1965) adds that where cultural


32 differences are low, the level of learning is weak, however if the cultural distance is too high serious culture shock can cause so much stress as to disable learning. Therefore, influential cross cultural learning experience s are most likely to occur within a certain range of cultural distan ce. Barkema and Bell (1996) support this through their suggestions that successful learning and adaptation is more likely where students move through incremental culture changes Considering the potential impact of cultural distance on intention to visit, culture shock, and ultimately learning, it also seems important to evaluate the impact of cultural distance on the ability for study abroad programs to be transformative. It is evident from this review that while participation in educational travel is continuing its upward trend, there are also many factors that have the potential to influence the impact study abroad programs hav e on students. Depending on the program length, academic and experiential content, and cultural distance of the host country, students are likely to experience varying levels of personal, academic and professional outcomes. As such, this study sought to further understand the relationship between these factors and positive outcomes for students.


33 CHAPTER 3 METHODS The purpose of this study was to investigate the transformative learning potential of different types of s tudy abroad programs. A n online survey design was use d to collect data from college students enrolled in 2012 summer study abroad programs through the University of Flori da. The dependent variable w as the degree to which participants experience d transformative learning. The in dependent variables were program length, cultural dist ance, and experiential learning style. Data Collection Th e researcher made contact with t (UFIC) in December 2011. For this research a study abroad program advisor was the primary contact. The researcher discu ssed how the study could be conducted with UF summer study abroad students, and what types of program to include. After discussions with the UFIC advisor regarding recruiting students from specific programs, it was decided to expand the pool to all student s studying on UF sponsored programs during the summer of 2012. These programs included faculty led and exchange programs on six continents, ranging from one week to one semester in length The advisor also suggested that given a potential group size of 1 2 0 0 students, the most effective way to recruit participants would be via an online survey design. In this way students could be easily contacted and more likely to participate in the research. required to attend one of three pre departure information sessions which were held in April 2012. The researcher attend ed each of the pre departure sessions in order to introdu ce the study and explain the purpose of the research. At this time the students


34 w ere instructed as to how they would be contacted b y the researcher, when they would be asked to complet e a questionnaire and how they would access the online survey. The rese arc her explain ed to the potential participants that participation in the stud y was volunt ary, that any participation would be completely confidential, and they were provided with the researcher s contact information in case they had any questions or concer ns. After the initial contact at pre departure sessions, the researche r contact ed the student participants via email throughout the summer reminding them about the study and providing the URL link to the post trip survey. Due to the geographical dispers ion of students during the summer and widespread familiarity with the online environment, an online survey was deemed the most appropriate medium. According to Schonlau, Fricker, and Elliott (2002), communicating with participants at three stages throughout the data collection process may enhance participation rate in internet based surveys Schonlau et al. suggest the use of several contact mode s initiating researcher participant contact, response mode, and follow up mode. To enhance the response rate for this study the researcher sent emails to students according to the three stage mode l. The first email contain ed the UR L for the questionnaire and was sent at the end of their respective programs in summer 2012. A second email w as sent one week af ter the end of the programs in order to thank participants that had already responded and remind those that had yet to do so. A third email w as sent two week s after to follow up and thank students for their participation. Due to the variat ion in length of the programs being used, email addresses provided by UFIC were categorized according to length and return date. In this way the


35 researcher was able to stagger the email sending process in order to most accurately meet the different contact phases of the survey process Qualtrics w as the internet survey host used for the questionnaires. Due to the fact that this study use d a clo sed population of students who we re required by the UFIC to maintain some kind of internet access, using an internet based survey did not prevent students from participating in the study Participants The study population consist ed of students participating in study abroad programs sponsored by the University of Florida in the summer s emester of 2012. Approximately 950 s tudents were asked to participate from the Summer A, B, and C semes ters. T he study yield ed n= 216 responses, indicating a 22.74% response rate although due to a Qualtri cs error the workable sample for most of the analyses was based on n=126 which students are required to access frequently, as such there were no known errors of students receiving the questionnaire As is common with internet surveys this study did experience many non respondents, as well as dropouts and people who started to take the survey but did not complete it (Crawford, Couper, & Lamias, 2001). Sample C haracteristics The sample consisted of N =216, ho wever due to respondents not completing the entire survey, or potential Qualtrics errors, N =126 respondents failed to answer the many questions in the second and third sections of the questionnaire Where the valid responses were different than N =216, the total n umber of valid responses were reported. All percentages reported are in valid percent format.


36 Of the participants in the sample who provided demographic information 77.8% were females ( n =98 )( Table 3 1 ) and 22.2 % we re males ( n =28). In terms of age 72.8% ( n =91) were aged 18 21 years 16 % ( n =20) were be tween the ages of 22 and 25, 6.4% ( n =8) were aged 26 40, and 4 .8% ( n =6) we re aged 41 and over. Regarding class standing 1.6% ( n =2) were freshman, 14.3% ( n =18) were sophomores, 30.2% ( n =38) were juniors 32.5 % ( n =41) were seniors, and 21.4 % ( n =27) were graduate students. With regards to ethnicity, 69.8 % ( n =88) were White/Caucasian, 6.3 % ( n =8) were Black/African Amer ican, 7.1% ( n =9) were Asian, 0.8 % ( n =1) wer e Hawaiian/Pacific Islander, 13.5 % ( n =1 7) were Hispanic/Latino, and 2.4 % ( n =3) were other/not specified. Regarding nationality, 91.1 % ( n =113) reported American citizenship, while other countries of nationality included China (4%, n =5) as well as Colombia, Switzerland, Ecuador, Haiti, Italy, Panama, and Finland all of which represented .8% ( n =1) Students were also asked to report their major Fifty two different majors were reported with Public Relations being the most common at 9.7 % ( n =12), closely followed by Economics and Busines s, both of which represented 8.1 % ( n =10). The study abroad programs ranged in length fr om six days to 180 days ( M =41.79 days, SD =26.8 9 days) Length of study abroad program was categorized into short (0 18 days) medium (19 35 days) long (36 49 days) and extra long progr ams (50+ days ). Short programs represented 15.2% ( n =19), medium 36% ( n =45), long 28.8% ( n =36), and extra long 20% ( n =25). These length categories were chosen according to frequency distribution of program length and natural cut points in the data Pa rticipants were first asked if they had travelled internationally prior to this study abroad program, 20% ( n =25, N =125) respondents indicated that they had never been


37 abroad before. While 80% (n=100) had travelled internationally previously, 27.2% ( n =34) had only been one or two times, 16% (n=20) had been three or four times, and 36.8% ( n =46) had been five or more times. Students were also asked to report what countries they had visited previously. Responses showed a total of 72 countries from Afghanistan to Venezuela. The most frequently visited were the Bahamas ( N =20), Canada ( N =28), and France ( N =23). Participants were also asked to report their language ability in the native language of their host country. Of N =124, 15.3% ( n =19) reported that they spo ke the language fluently, 18.5% ( n =23) spoke the language conversationally, 24.2% ( n =30) spoke a little, and 27.4% did not speak any ( n =34). Instrument The instrument used in this study consist ed of a fixed choice and open ended response format questio nnaire The questionnaire contain ed three sections ( Appendix A ). Section one use d the learning activities survey questionnaire originally developed 10) test of transformative learning. The precursor steps of transformative learning outlined by Mezirow (1997) were operationalized by Brock as follows: S is measured by the statements I questioned my ideas, I realized I no longer agreed with my previous beliefs or role expectat


38 examination with tried out new roles so that I would tep The original 10 steps became a 12 item transformative scale. These items were measured on a yes/no scale (yes=1, no=0), and assessed the transformative learning potential each student experienced. S ection two measure d program information. It ask ed how lo and This allow ed for categorization of length as well as cultural distance. Students listed the country( ies) in an open response format. In turn, the countries were categorized using L risk/familiarity and strangeness as a measure of cultural distance geographical r egions are classified as follows in ascending order of risk/ increasing cultural distance; 1. USA/Canada, 2. Australasia/Oceania, 3. Western Europe, 4. Caribbean, 5. Eastern Europe, 6. Far East Asia, 7. South America, 8. Central America,


39 9. South East Asia, 10. Indian Subcontinent, 11. Russian Federation, 12. Africa, 13. Middle East. For this study these groups were further collapsed into four categories. Initially USA/Canada, South East Asia, and Middle East were removed as no ne of the respondents were studying in these regions. It was then necessary to combine further due to small cell sizes in several of the geographical regions. Ultimately the groups most culturally similar to the US ), Caribbean and Eastern Europe (group two), Far East Asia and South and Central America (group three), and Indian Subcontinent, Russian Federation, and Africa (group four least culturally similar to the US ). These groups were developed in accordance with the perceived risk means reported in Lepp and Gibson (2008) research. Section two also included questions pertaining to experiential learning and program type P articipants were asked to select which class components applied to their program from a list including essays, quizzes, multiple choice exams, debates, and field tr ips among others. Students were also asked to answer two open ended questions regarding program components. Section three measure d demographic information Questions include d basic de mographics su ch as gender and class standing T his final section also include d open ended questions regarding previous travel experience and highlights of the programs they had just completed. Reliability analysis was used to test for internal consistency of the transformative learning scale. The transformative learning components yielded a relatively high 1998 ) findings of a reliability


40 of .86 on the learning activities survey. King (2009) states and validity have been repeatedly confirmed through the use of multiple data sources to confirm analysis, member checks, and independent coding. Data Analysis Data w ere analyzed using SPSS (Statistical Package fo r the Soc ial Sciences Version 16 .0). Descriptive statistics were generated for all the variables and included means, frequencies, percentages and standard deviations. ANOVA was used to analyze differences in transformative learning experiences on three variables ; type of program completed, program length and cultural distance. Nominal level data w ere summed to measure transform ative learning via the 12 dichotomous items, where the answer options we re =1 =0 The open ended data were subjected to a them atic analysis. This was conducted manually by the researcher. Initially the researcher transferred the data to a word file, then printed and read the responses through to identify initial categories. These categories were further broken down into similar responses, all categories were then cross referenced. Finally, the researcher evaluated the responses and how applicable they were to dimensions of experiential and transformative learning. Categories of similar responses were reported by theme and sub theme as well as research question in chapter four.


41 Table 3 1. Sample characteristics Demographic Frequency N=126* Valid Percent Gender Female 98 77.8 Male 28 22.2 Age 18 21 91 72.8 22 25 20 16 26 40 8 6.4 41+ 6 4.8 Race and Ethnicity White 88 69.8 Hispanic/Latino 17 13.5 Asian 9 7.1 Black/African American 8 6.3 Hawaiian/Pacific Islander 1 0.8 Other/Not Specified 3 2.4 Class Standing Freshman 2 1.6 Sophomore 18 14.3 Junior 38 30.2 Senior 41 32.5 Graduate 27 21.4 Travelled Internationally N=126 Never 25 20 One or two times 34 27.2 Three or Four times 20 16 5+ times 46 36.8 Language Ability N=126 Fluently 19 15.3 Conversationally 23 18.5 Basic language ability 30 24.2 Spoke one of the languages 20 14.6 Did not speak any 34 27.4 *Total sample was N=216, only N=126 provided demographic information.


42 CHAPTER 4 RESULTS The University of Florida offers more than 60 sponsored programs during the summer sessions each year. Respondents from this study traveled to 33 countries from approximately 40 different programs. Typically UF sponsored programs are led by University of Florida faculty who travel with the students the whole time they are abroad. These programs can last any where from one week, to the entire summer semester. Students from all undergraduate and graduate levels partici pated i n these programs, and the program topics include everything from business, to Chinese language, and the pursuit of happiness. All students were required to attend the UFIC pre departure orientation but many faculty chose to provide their own orientations. These results show that 81.6% (n=102) o f students attended an additional orientation. Their open ended responses indicate that this additional orientation was anything from a two hour discussion with alumni, to an extensive group bonding weekend orientation. Transformative Learning Components of the Study Abroad Experience Research Question 1 Does T ransformative L earning Occur on S tudy Abroad P rograms? To me asure transformative learning a 12 item s cale w as used (Brock, 2010) Students answer ed ye s =1 or no =0 to each item. Item 1 caused me to question the way I normally act received the most positive responses, 67.1% ( n =145) p articipants responded yes. Item still agreed with my beliefs 5%, n =139), item (65.6%, n =141) item


43 (64.8%, n =140) and item (65.7%, n =140), also received high levels of positive responses The lowe st positive response of 23.3% ( n Table 4 1 ) Twenty nine participants responded yes to 10 of the transformative scale items (13.8%). Only 5 students ( n =2.4%) did not respond positively to any of the scale items, 58.1% responded positively to 6 or more items. Each of the transformative learning scale items was summed to create a total transformative learning score mmed score out of 12. The responses ranged from a low score of 0 to a high of 12 there were students who responded either yes or no to all 12 items The mean score was 6.81 with a standard deviation of 3.17. Research Question 2 Does Transformative Learning Differ b y Program Length? ANOVA was used to explore differences among more than two groups of program length categories and the transformative learning experienced by the p articipants Respondents reported program length in day s and these were categor ized into four groups (Table 4 2 ). Short programs comprised 0 18 days (15.2%, n =19), medium 19 35 days (36%, n =45), long 36 49 days (28.8%, n =36), and extra long 50+ days (20%, n =25). The groups were categorized according to previous literature and the distribution of the program length variable. The shortest reported length was 6 days; the longest was 18 0 The mean program length was 41.79 (42 ) days. The standard deviation was 26.89 days


44 As depicted in Table 4 3, a one way ANOVA showed a statistical significan ce ( p < .0 1 ) between program length and the summated transformative learning score. A Tukey p ost hoc analysis indicated that there was a significant difference in transformative learning achieved b long, and extra long groups respectively ( p (all)< .0 1 ). There were no statistical differences between any of the other groups (Table 4 4). The mean transformative learning sum for each group were as follows; short ( M =4.29, SD =3.24), medium ( M =7.09, SD =3.12), long ( M =7.26, SD =2.78), and extra long ( M =7.92, SD =3.19). The mean transformative learning score for the short program group is significantl y lower than that of the medium, long, and extra long groups, indicating that a higher degree of transformative learning occurred on the med ium, long, and extra long programs in comparison to the short est programs. Research Question 3 Does Transformative Learning Differ b y Degree o f Experiential Learning Offered? To provide additional information about the nature of their programs, students were asked to indicate which of the 16 learning components they had experien ced on their programs (Table 4 5 ). The learning components included formal quizzes, field quizzes, multiple choice tests, short answer exams, essay exams, open book exams, debates, group projects, student discussions, field lectures, field trips, presentations, experiments, interaction with the local community as part of the program, interaction with the local community as leisure time, and other. The most frequently selected learning component was field trips ( n =107, 49.5%), closely followed by presentations ( n =96, 44.4%). Both interaction with local community as part of the program, and


45 interaction with local community as leisure time were reported by 37% ( n =80). The least frequently selected type of program component was field quizzes (3.2%, n =7). A one way ANOVA was used to investigate the di fferences between program types and degree of transformative learning experienced. Participants self reported the type of program into four categories (Table 4 6 ); traditional classes (15.1%, n =19 N =126 ), field or practical (23%, n =29), combination (45.2% n =57), and other (16.7%, n =21). While by nature all the programs include d some experiential elements such as field trips, and the impact of being in another country, these categories show the different degrees of experiential learning that students exper ienced. Based on the previous literature (McKeown, 2009; Montrose, 2002; Aguilar & Gingerich, 2002) traditional classes with a lecture format show the lowest degree of experiential learning, and the field or practical category represents the highest level of experiential learning components. The other two categories are in between As depicted in Table 4 7, a one way ANOVA showed no statistical difference ( p =.47) among program type and the summated transformative learning score. The mean transformative lea rning summative scores for each group were as follows; traditional classes ( M =5.94, SD =3.21), Combination ( M =7.16, SD =3.25), Field or practical ( M =6.7, SD =3.59), and other ( M =7.38, SD =2.5). While there were no statistically significant findings between the groups, by looking at the mean transformative learning scores it is possible to see that there were incremental differences. Traditional classes received the lowest mean score, followed by the field or propensity of transformative learning. In an attempt to reveal further differences the


46 researcher organized the program characteristics by experiential and n on expe riential elements. The data were organized in a variety of ways, th ough none of them revealed any statistical differences among the various types of academic assignments completed by the students as part of their programs. Research Question 4 Does Transf ormative Learning Differ b y Cultural Distance Experienced? Students reported their host country in an open ended question format. The ( 2008 ) categorization of world regions based on perceived risk as an indicator of cultural distance. In reviewing the host countries for the summer 2012 study abroad programs, 1. USA/Canada, 9 South East Asia, and 1 3. Middle East were removed there were no participants studying in these locations from UF in the summer of 2012. It was also necessary to combine the groups in order to make more reliable cell sizes. By using research as a guide the destination countries reported in this study were re categorized Respondents reported their destination countries, which were categorized into the following ; Australasia and Western Europe ( n =84, 67.2%) this has the lowest cultural distance Caribbean and Eastern Europe ( n =9, 7.2%), Asia, Central and South America ( n =24, 19.2%), and Indian Subcontinent, Russian Federation, and Africa ( n =8, 6.4%) this group has the highest cultural distance A n ANOVA revealed there was a statistically significant difference between the cultural dista nce groups and the summed score f r om the transformative scale ( p < .0 1 ) (Table 4 8 ) A Tukey post hoc analysis (Table 4 9), showed that there was a significant difference in transformative learning achieved between the Caribbean and Eas tern


47 Europe group and the Australasia and Western Euro pe group ( p < .0 1). There was also a significant difference between the Caribbean and Eastern Europe group and the Asia, Central, and South America group ( p =.04), as well as with the Indian subcontinent, Russian federation, and Africa group ( p =.02). The mean transformative learning scores for the respective cultural distance groups are as follows; Australasia and Western Europe ( M =7.21), Caribbean and Eastern Europe ( M =3.00), Asia, Central, and South America ( M =6.65), and Indian Subcontinent, Russian Federation, and Africa ( M =8.17). From these scores it is evident that transformative l earning is significantly lower in the Caribbean and Eastern Europe group than it is in the other three groups Open ended Questions Students were also asked a variety of open ended questions revolving around their transformative learning experiences, the length of their program, and experiential learning aspects. These responses were analyzed in order to give a more in depth evaluation of their experiences and progress while studying abroad. In order to fully evaluate the responses, the researcher conducted a content and thematic analysis. Responses are reported with original spelling and grammar as used by the students. Transformative Learning Questions According to Br ock (2010) a key method of judging whether transformative learning has occurred is to ask students whether they experienced a change in their study abroad did you experie nce a situation that c More than 65 students ( N =105) responded that they had experienced a change in their beliefs or value system. responses covered themes such as understanding the


48 United States, changing their value systems and global outlook career and personal goals, and travel aspirations. Understanding the USA A pproximately half of these students reported that they had come to the realization that there are some things they believe to be wrong with the cur rent US society and their global beliefs. One 19 year old male who studied in Chengdu stated udent consumerism Europeans value their f Students also expressed conflicting ideas about their home country. One student explained that erica is truly the best country in the world and communism stunts creativity in America stands for internationally. I learned that Americans are really pathetic excuses for g Despite these differences, there was a distinct cohesiveness in the idea that they had previously taken the world, and the luxuries they are privy to, for granted. Students that we take it for concerns seem irrelevant or even laughable when concerned(sic) to the more pressing


49 Value system and global ou tlook Sixteen students directly referenced a change in their value system such as one issues another expressed surprise at some people s perspective on arranged marriage y like this traditional form of finding a spouse. This was a shocking perspective that changed the way I view marriage to think socialized health care was a good system until I experienced NHS in the UK students also referenced their appreciation for the world around them, as well as the Some suggested that they re alized a constant need for adaptation to new cultures, while others thought the opposite; that they could apply the same methods no matter where they were in the world. These personal and academic impacts were supported by changes to their global outlook. worldwide news events because what happens on the other side of the world affects seem im portant to us where we live, or seem odd are sometimes not even efficient in this question came out with two conflicting ideas. Many students proclaimed a realization that there is so much diversity in the world and a lot more to see, whereas the others explained that they realized how very similar people are no matter where they are from.


50 Increased travel go als Students were also asked your expectations in life? i.e. for your career, social, or political expectations More than half of the respondents suggested that their experience had made them want to tr a vel more frequently, for longer, and to m ore places. Approximately 30 students also suggested a realization that their life post graduation was not limited to the United f ew weeks abroad has opened my eyes to the enormous opportunity available to those Academic and personal goals Other students focused more on their academic and career goals. Students made statements such as studying abroad hened my decision to go into the Navy my goals faster so that I can help other people kind of law I intend to practice many students expressed a comprehension that me think


51 The final transform with suggestions of how they will improve on a personal or academic level. Many students suggested impact me to learn more languages in and seriously considering expand my horizon s brought me a lot closer to my mom very thankful eventually become individual Some students even referenced an intense impact on their social abilities; the friends I made and me mories made an everlasting impact, strangers challenged me to accept different lifestyles have over 90 new best Program Length Students were also asked was adequa te to meet your goals? Please explain. R esearch Q provide further insight into opinion of the length of the program, how they think it affected their learning, and how they wished it could be different. A pproximately two thirds of students stated that they were happy with the length of their program, with only one student stating th


52 feeling at place (sic). enough (2 weeks) t hat my language and dialect did not transition completely and so I was able to feel comfortable communicating upon return a of where you weeks would have been futile length of their program, they certainly were not in agreement as to the perfect length. There were also a bout a third o f the students who suggested that they wish their program had been longer sentiments such as a teaser. In part I wish I was here for a longer period of time very short period of time to be abroad. I feel it went by in a flash, and I wasted time at the beginning were voiced. Though many students expressed a desire to be there for longer, one 20 the length of time, rather on the experiences had and the bonds forme common theme throughout the comments Experiential Component Questions The third research question asks whether transformative learning differs by experiential learning offered, in order to go more in depth into this question students we re also asked questions regarding the learning components they experienced on their program. Students were initially asked onents you


53 selected above, how d o you feel the components available to you impacted your In response to this question made comments about the impacts of traditional aspects as well as what they would like to see more of. Lack of experiential elements N quizzes, and multiple choice exams were the most useful aspect of their study abroad. One 20 the classes themselves at all but rather from going out and actually commun icating with people a normal class at UF, I would have liked more interaction with the local community as a part of the program as we only had a few occasions in three months t hat we went out as a group Where experiential elements were missi ng, the students picked up on this and more with Italians. I think I would have learned better had we gone out and used it, but Appreciation of experiences Approximately half of the responses reported that the field trips and interactions with the community were the most influential aspects of their program. Students made learning about culture in a fun way. It was educational but not boring. I learned more on this trip that ( sic) information we learned into perspective to my learning


54 be taught in a classroom than I do in Gainesville tudents who did not directly reference the field trips it was good to be able to interact and learn from the classroom discussions which were heavily based on class participation nts gave me invaluable experience with hands on better than any class could offer because all the book knowledge th at we had been gaining in a traditional school setting was more or less abandoned, and instead we concentrated on how we as individuals were impacted by our interactions with our peers, local and native Australians, and the land Future requests To expan program components listed that were excluded from your program that you feel would Out of 83 responses only three students outlined a request for beneficial home and read about it there was nothi ng else they felt needed to be added to the program. The rest of the students however did request more field trips and interactive elements. Students made every day except an ear ly release Friday) in addition to a 45 minute commute everyday and each day (sic) and homework after school and business classes online. I would like more time


55 exploring Madrid and learning about the people and culture while I am here and less time in a cla ssroom communities as part o f the program have been great Summary These results provide insights into the perceptions, transformations, and experiences of study abroad students at the University of Florida during the summer of 2012. Differences by length of program, program type and cultural distance were measured by th emselves as well as in relation to the transformative learning achieved. The quantitative data showed a difference in program length, and one exploratory indication that cultural distance may play a role in transformative learning. The open ended questions seemed to show a diversity of experiences. Cha belief and value systems were reflected in their changed global outlook, appreciation for what they have, a keener desire to travel and work internationally, and an intensified academic and p rofessional track. Participants reported various ideal program lengths, but almost all admired the experiential learning components and requested even more immersion where it was lacking. Overall, the research questions addressed in this chapter have been used not to simply validate study abroad as an entity, but to more con cisely understand how it works best, and how it can be improved.


56 T a b l e 4 1 F r e q u e n c y o f y e s r e s p o n s e s t o t r a n s f o r m a t i v e s c a l e i t e m s T ransformative learning step # Item description Frequency 'Yes' Valid Percent Total (N) 1 I had an experience that caused me to question the way I normally act 145 67.1 216 3 As I questioned my ideas, I realized I still agreed with my beliefs or role expectations 143 66.5 215 9 I tried to figure out a way to adopt new roles, or new ways of acting 141 65.6 215 6 I thought about acting in a different way from my usual beliefs and roles 140 64.8 216 10 I gathered information I needed to adopt new ways of acting 140 65.7 213 2 I had an experience that caused me to question my ideas about social roles 139 64.4 216 11 I began to think about reactions to my new behavior 137 63.7 215 8 I tried out new roles so that I would become more comfortable in them 128 59.3 216 12 I adopted these new ways of thinking and acting 127 59.3 214 5 I realized that other students were also questioning their beliefs 122 56.7 215 4 As I questioned my ideas I realized I no longer agreed with my beliefs or role expectations 52 24.1 216 7 I felt uncomfortable with traditional social expectations 50 23.3 215


57 Table 4 2 Frequencies of study abroad program length in days Program Length Frequency N=125 Valid Percent Short 0 18 days 19 15.2 Medium 19 35 days 45 36 Long 36 49 days 36 28.8 Extra Long 50+ days 25 20


58 Table 4 3 One way ANOVA for difference in transformative learning by program length Program Length (days) N Mean SD Df Sum of Squares Mean Square F p Short 19 4.29 3.24 Medium 45 7.09 3.12 Long 36 7.26 2.78 Extra Long 25 7.92 3.19 Between Groups 3 146.37 48.79 5.21 0.002 Within Groups 116 1085.63 9.36 Total 120 6.91 3.22 119 1231.99 .034 *Transformative learning total score ranging from 0 12


59 Table 4 4. Tukey post hoc results for program length Tukey HSD L ength Category Length Category Sig. Short (0 18 days) Medium 0.009* Long 0.008* Extra Long 0.002* Medium (19 35 days) Short 0.009* Long 0.99 Extra Long 0.71 Long (36 49 days) Short 0.008* Medium 0.99 Extra Long 0.86 Extra Long (50+ days) Short 0.002* Medium 0.71 Long 0.86 *Indicates a significant difference


60 Table 4 5. Frequencies of learning components experienced by students while on study abroad Learning component Frequency ( N =126 ) Valid Percent Formal Quiz 37 17.1 Field Quiz 7 3.2 Multiple Choice 35 16.2 Short answer exam 52 24.1 Essay exam 31 14.4 Open book exam 16 7.4 Debate 35 16.2 Group project 70 32.4 Student Discussion 62 28.7 Field lecture 60 27.8 Field Trip 107 49.5 Presentation 96 44.4 Experiment 11 5.1 Interaction with local community as part of program 80 37 Interaction with local community as leisure time 80 37 Other 7 3.2


61 Table 4 6. Frequencies for study abroad program type Program Type Frequency N=126 Valid Percent Traditional Classes 19 15.1 Combination 57 45.2 Field or Practical 29 23 Other 21 16.7


62 Table 4 7 One way ANOVA results for difference in transformative learning among program types Program Type N Mean SD Df Sum of Squares Mean Square F p Traditional Classes 1 9 5.94 3.21 Combination 5 7 7.16 3.25 Field or practical 2 9 6.7 3.59 Other 21 7.38 2.5 Between Groups 3 26.12 8.71 0.84 0.47 Within Groups 117 1207.05 10.32 Total 12 6 6.92 3.21 120 1233.17 0.19 The mean scores represent the mean summed transformative learning score. This score can range from 0 12.


63 Table 4 8 One way ANOVA results for difference in transformative learning across cultural distance Cultural Distance group N Mean SD Df Sum of Squares Mean Square F p Australasia and Western Europe 84 7.21 2.93 Caribbean and Eastern Europe 9 3.00 3.00 Asia and Central and South America 24 6.65 6.65 Indian Subcontinent, Russian Federation, and Africa 8 8.17 8.17 Between Groups 3 125.80 41.93 4.50 0 Within Groups 116 1106.19 9.54 Total 119 1231.99 The mean scores represent the mean summed transformative learning score. This score can range from 0 12.


64 Table 4 9 Tukey post hoc results from cultural distanc e Tukey HSD (I) Cultural distance category (J) cultural distance category Sig. Australasia & Western Europe Caribbean & Eastern Europe 0.004* Asia, Central, & South America 0.866 Indian Subcontinent 0.885 Caribbean & Eastern Europe Australasia & Western Europe 0.004* Asia, Central, & South America 0.035* Indian Subcontinent 0.017* Asia, Central, & South America Australasia & Western Europe 0.866 Caribbean & Eastern Europe 0.035* Indian Subcontinent 0.709 Indian Subcontinent, Russian Federation, & Africa Australasia & Western Europe 0.885 Caribbean & Eastern Europe 0.017* Asia, Central, & South America 0.709 *Indicates a significant difference


65 CHAPTER 5 DISCUSSION AND CONCLUSION The purpose of the study was to investigate the transformative learning impact of different types of study abroad programs. This study specifically examined the influence of program length, experiential learning, and cultural distance of the destination visited on transformative learning outcomes. This chapter discusses the findings of the study as they relate to study abroad participants, and the experiences reported by these participants. It further draws upon the literature review and theo retical framework to explain the results of the study and draw conclusions. Implications of the results and suggestions for further research are also discussed. Transformative Learning Theory The 10 steps of perspective transformation were operationalized into a 12 item scale by King (1998), and then further developed by Brock (2010) ; almost all of the participants achieved some level of transformative learning with some reporting that they had achieved a full perspective transformation. Steps one and nine, to were experienced most by the students in this study The step s where students seemed to see less change were to exami nation While it is assumed that students are being given adequate experiences to try new things, it is possible that they need more instruction on how to make positive changes to their perspective when they return to their home country. In the definition of transformative le arning put forward by Mezirow ( 1978 ) it was suggested that only through reflection, active learning and placing ourselves in an


66 uncomfortable situation are we able to develop our understanding of the world and others, thereby achieving transformation. Through the open ended questions participants show ed signs of achieving all three of these basic precursors to transformative learning. A 25 year old female who studied in Costa Rica stated that she was confronted by ideas that were novel and very difficult to deal with indicating the achievement of being placed in an uncomfortable situation. Similarly, a 20 year old female who studied in the Netherlands suggested that her learning was really hands on a nd truly working in her field emphasizing that many students were subjected to active learning through their program. Finally, a 20 year old male who studied in Italy stated that while he did not necessarily change the way he believe d about things but he definitely considered everything While this does not indicate a change of beliefs or values, to be able to come to the co nclusion of what you do believe after considering alternatives seem to indicate a n assured amount of reflection. Other aspects of tr ansformative learning are also supported by participant responses. Mezirow (1997) discusses that in transformative learning educators should act as facilitators, not an authority. One student mentioned that during their class discussions they were only sto pped when necessary by the vocabulary teacher, allowing more time for actual student discussion, signifying coherence to transformative style facilitation. Program Length The recent trends in the American study abroad market showing a conclusive increase in the number of students studying abroad on short term programs (Institute of International Education Open Doors Project, 2011) led to a necessity to investigate the


67 effectiveness of short term programs when compared to long term study abroad experiences In the wake of criticism that short programs do not require the same level of input on the behalf of the student, and do not provide the same cultural and potentially transformative outcomes it became even more necessary that the impact of length was inv estigated (Gadykunst, 1979; Engle & Engle, 2003; Medina Lopez Portillo, 2004). Given the proposal by Dwyer (2004) that the 5 week mark in study abroad programs is critical, participants were divided into four program length categories: short, medium, long, and extra long (0 18, 19 35, 36 50, and 50+ days respectively). The results showed that there was a statistical difference in transformative learning achieved between the short program group and the medium, long, and extra long groups. The mean transform ative learning scores were significantly higher in the medium, long, and extra long groups in comparison to the short program group. There were no significant differences between the medium, long, and extra long groups So while it is necessary to state th at where a program is less than 18 days long, there may be a significantly lower chance of achieving transformative learning, this is a considerably lower program length distinction than previous studies have shown (Engle & Engle, 2003; Dwyer, 2004; Ritz, 2011) Programs less than four or six weeks in length have previously been criticized for lack of academic impact (Engle & Engle, 2003) this study shows that it is only in programs under three weeks in length that transfor mative learning may be less likely to occur A dditionally these results show that it may be possible for programs in the three to six week range to have just as great of an impact as those a full semester, or academic year long. Engle and Engle (2003) sug gested that programs less than six weeks in length cannot possibly integrate a truly educational


68 experience. The results of this study seem to show that there is no difference in the transformative educational ability of programs, providing they are more t han 18 days in length. Furthermore, previous literature points to the fact that where short term programs are well planned and intensive in nature (Dwyer, 2004 ) as well as have a positive social connection between students and professors ( Ritz, 2011) th ey can have a similar impact on students as long term programs ( Chieffo & Griffiths, 2003) From the open ended data it was possible to see that some of the students encountered intensively reflective programs that incorporated a lot of different learning elements. Similarly, some participants reported an appreciation for traveling with professors, enabling an experience that led to conversations and connections with faculty that would not have happened if it were not for their study abroad program. This si gnifies a key factor of transformative learning where the professor acts as a guide, not instructor (Aguilar & Gingerich, 2002). Through the analysis of the open ended question in particu lar it is possible to see how students felt the length of their program impacted their experiences. A large proportion of participants reported that they were happy with the length of their program, students reported that 10 days, four weeks, six weeks, and 10 weeks was the perfect amount of time. One student suggested that any less than eight weeks would be insufficient, while another thought that three months was a teaser. This gives an indication of the diversity of opinion among stud Given this variety of opinions, and the fact that the data resulted in a n insignificant


69 difference between the medium, long, and extra long groups, it is possible that as one student mentioned, it i s no t a matter of the program length but has more to do with the experie nces had and the bonds formed. Experiential Learning Components As previously discussed, many believe study abroad to be experiential by nature (Aguilar & Gingerich, 2002). However, since experientia l learning involves learning by doing and then reflecting on your experiences to enable complete grounding of knowledge, it does not necessarily follow through that all study abroad programs afford students the opportunity to have a complete experiential p rocess. This study showed that there were no significant differences on transformative learning among the different types of program. While this may seem conclusive, it is necessary to consider that students self reported their program type. This method of measurement may have affected the results as there was no clearly defined way to distinguish the varying levels of experiential learning on a given program. Although there was no significant relationship between the type of program/degree of experientia l learning received and transformative learning scores the open ended responses seem to support t he existence of experiential learning components in these study abroad programs, and the impact it had on the students. As st ated previously, a majority o f respondents indicated that the most influential part of their program was the field trips, interaction with the community, or other experiential learning components. Students explained that they really liked the self reflection community interaction, fie ld trip, and writing aspect s of the courses and they were the most valuable educational aspects. These statements are a strong indication that students were not only being given the


70 opportunity for active learning, but also the ability to reflect on their experiences through essays, and in depth student led class discussions. The ability to actively learn, as well as reflect on experiences are the two key elements outlined by Aguilar and Gingerich (2002) that enable experiential learning. The learning com ponent open ended quest ions also suggest that of the students who commented on what they would like to see in the future. O nly three of these participants wanted an increased amount of formal learning. Most students thought that their program was complete as it was, with around 30 requesting an increase in cultural immersion, field trips, and other experiential components. Berwick and Whalley (2000) explain that where these components are missing, learning is unlikely to be effective, especially in language learning. Following on from this, students also made statements that indicated transformative learning stages that may have been accomplished as a result of the experiential learning components. A female who studied in India stated that when she visited r eligious temples she felt uncomfortable because of her beliefs, and did not know how to react. This exemplifies the experiential learning component of active learning (Aguilar & Ginge rich, 2002). S tatements suggesting that students felt uncomfortable and o ut of place e to see that a relationship may exist between experiential learning components and the achievement of a perspe ctive transformation.


71 Cultural Distance One of the most prominent ways for study abroad programs to differ from each other is by location (Rohrlich, 1991) Depending on the country a student chooses, they can expect to experience a significantly different cultural experience (Ng et al. 2007) However, stating that the culture is different does not help clarify the change being experienced between one country and another. In order to combat vague descriptions of difference, Hofstede (1980) quanti fied four dimensions of culture as power distance, individualism, masculinity and uncertainty avoidance. Kogut and Sing h (1988) continued difference between the home and de stination cultures. However the index is not user friendly, so i (2008) classification of geographical areas by perceived risk were used for the respective c ountries. Perceived ri sk is largely born out of a fear of unfamiliarity that can be attributed to high cultural distance. Where there is a higher level of perceived risk/unfamiliarity, there is simultaneously a higher cultural distance. While this was an exploratory variable, t he data did show a significant difference between the transformative learning achieved between the Caribbean and Eastern Europe group, and all of the other geographical areas, but not amongst any other group. While it is evident from previous literature th at the type of culture, and its distance from the home culture certainly makes an impact on the type of learning achieved on study abroad (Klooster et al. 2008) these data do not show any specific evidence of exactly how it is impacted. Since the group s ize was small for the Caribbean and Eastern Europe group, and respondents only represented three programs, it is possible that this


72 significance is more closely related to these specific programs than the cultural distance between the study abroad destinat ions and the US. Additionally, the cultural distance experienced by students according to nationality or whether they had previously visited the region was not controlled for and so it is possible that these variables may have had some influence Perhaps these variables may have interacted with perceived cultural distance, and in turn influenced the level of transformative learning achieved. Thus, cultural distance as a variable requires further investigation within the realm of study abroad. Summary and Implications Because students are not only studying abroad in record numbers, but also increasingly studying only on short term programs instead of traditional semester or academic year programs, this study addressed the controversial topic of whether these short term programs can have the same academic, personal, and global implications of their longer counterparts This study use d transformative learning theory and experiential learning theory as conceptual framework s to measure the relative success of study abroad programs with a range of program lengths run during summer 2012 from a large US public university. In addition to transformative learning and program length, this study also examined the impact of cultural distance and experiential learning components. The results provided insight s into the levels of transformative learning possible within different study abroad programs. Overall, the data concluded that transformative learning does exist within these programs, but to varying degree s. The fact that the re was a significant difference between shorter program length and transformative learning


73 is con sistent with the current literature (Ritz, 2011) H owever th is study showed that there w as only a significantly lower level of transformat ion on programs less than 18 days whereas previous research which has shown a five week (Dwyer, 2004) or six week minimum (Engle & Engle, 2003). These results combined with the open ended responses may allow for a branch of discussion suggesting that short term programs provided they are more than 18 days long, may have as great of an impact on students as traditional long term study abroad programs. The findings of this study regarding the exist ence of experiential learning on study abroad programs are consistent with previous research (Aguilar & Gingerich, 2002) However, the ability for experiential learning components to be used directly as tools to encourage perspective transformation and tra nsformative learning as a whole is an area that needs more empirical investigation The quantitative data showed no discernible differences among program types, this is potentially due to a weakness in the operationalization and as such it is even more per tinent that research in this area be continued. The open ended data from this study point ed to the fact that students were aware of the different educational elements and how i nfluential they can be on their learning. If the trend of students only going on short term programs is to continue, it may be useful for study abroad providers to more directly address the type of learning elements they are using, and how to best encourage student transformation. Regarding cultural distance, there was only a significant difference in level of transformative learning when groups were compared to the Caribbean and Eastern Europe group. As such this finding should be regarded as exploratory and warrants further investigation. The mean transformative learning scor e for th is region was


74 inconsistently low Additionally this group had a low number of respondents and variety of programs, all of which could have contributed to the low scores. While it is evident that cultural distance may play a role in the potential fo r transformative learning to occur, the impact of cultural distance warrants further investigation in order to more fully understand its effects. Recommendations for Further Research While this study made some progression with regards to combining concept ual frameworks from highe r education and tourism literatures considering the changes within the study abroad industry, as well as the impact it can have on a student s career and personal lives it is pertinent for research to continue in areas that were i nconclusive. In this study t he open ended responses point to diversity in terms of what students believe to be the best length for a study abroad program ranging from two weeks to more than three months. It is suggested that in order to more fully investigate the impact of program uture researchers investigate the reasons for choosing different lengths of program It would be beneficial to know whether students are happy with the ir program length because of the original reasons for their choice, or because of events that occurred on ce abroad Furthermore, given the potential to see a more defined relationship between experiential learning components and transformative learning, it is suggested that a case study approach might better identify the influence of experiential components on transformative learning. For example, by evaluating the syllabi, course schedules, and teaching methods of study abroad programs, there may be more distinct differences in the tran sformative learning achieved Furthermore, it is recommended that future


75 studies get prospective from program directors. This would enable the researcher to understand some of the logistics and issues associated with specific programs, ultimately enabling a more in depth evaluation, and allowing a triangulation process. Though transformative learning, experiential learning, cultural distance, and length have all been discussed within the study abroad literature before, this is the first time they have been combined in one study As more students study abroad, but for shorter ti meframes, and with more providers, it seems pertinent to look at as many aspects as possible to ensure the most positive outcome for students. It is also recommended that future studies examine the interactive effects of these three variables. For example would a program less than 18 days that is highly experiential be just as effective at encouraging transformative learning as a semester length traditional classroom style program? Limitations To combat the potential of question wording confounding the da ta, University of Florida professors, graduate, and undergradu ate students reviewed the questionnaire before it was administered to the participants of the study in order to establish content and face validity. Additionally, the researcher provided contact information during the pre departure sessions, on the instrument, and on each of the invitation and reminder emails so that participants could ask for clarification if they needed to This system of review and opportunities for questions and concerns hopefully prevented any confusion that participants may have had, but also question wording may always pose a potential problem


76 Another possible limitation was regarding timely distributi on of the questionnaire. The questionnaire was due to staggered end dates it is possible that students receive d their survey email earlier or later than the desired distribution date. Additionall y, due to many students returning during summer break, there was a decrease in response rates as students tend to ignore university related emails. There was also a limitation in the operationalization of the experiential learning variable. During data ana lysis it became evident that allowing students to self report their program type did not adequately identify the degree of experiential learning in each program Due to this weakness the results on the experiential variable were compromised limiting the usefulness of this variable In future it might be beneficial to either categorize by analyzing the program syllabi, or provide students a more specific set of descriptions from which to select their type of program. Due to an unknown error, while the sam ple as a whole is N=216, many of the data from the second and third sections of the questionnaire are based on only N=126. This includes demographic data as well as program length, program type, and host country responses. This may have compromised the sta bility of the analysis with some of the independent variables since some of the cell sizes were below the accepted n=30. A final limitation is regarding the cultural distance variable. Issues such as whether students had previously visited the region and t heir nationality were not distance that students experienced. Furthermore it is necessary to understand that


77 while it was essential to collapse the groups of geograp hical regions because of the need for adequate cell sizes, this was less than ideal. More precise and conclusive results may have been found if more levels of cultural distance were possible. Delimitations A primary d elimitation in this stu dy is that only students who were registered to study abroad with the UFIC during summer 2012 were invited to participate. This limit ed the generalizability of the results to those studying abroad for no more than three months, potentially excluding those who chose to st udy abroad for a full semester or academic year, as is common during fall and spring semesters. Additionally, random selection was not used and as such the generalizability of the findings should be executed with caution. It is also possible that results may be delimited to institutions and programs comparable to the University of Florida and specifically the programs studied. Conclusion The results of this study suggest that participants in a study abroad program are likely to experience at least some de gree of transformative learning. The degree to which they may achieve a perspective trans formation may be impacted by program length type, and the cultural distance between the home and host countries. Additionally, when looking at the open ended response s consistent themes were found in newfound sense of abilities, independence and the o ption to travel and work abroad more. Students also reported satisfaction with experiential components over traditional teaching styles,


78 Though it is only possible to draw inferences about studying abroad for less than a semester, this study provided insights on a range of study abroad programs from multiple disciplinary areas such as transformative learning, experiential learning, and cul tural distance. If researchers continue to investigate the impacts of these variables it may be lives, but also encourage faculty, program designers, international center staff, and outside provi ders to create the most influentia l program possible. If as Tarrant (2010) stated study abroad is now a necessary part of international education, it is consequently necessary to not only bring more people in, but improve the experiences of those already sold on the idea.


79 APPENDIX A STUDY ABROAD SURVEY Section 1: Transformative learning Below is a list of learning experiences that you may or may not have had while on your study abroad program. Please check whether you feel you did or did not experience each item. There is no right or wrong answer so please answer as honestly as possible. 1. I had an experience that caused me to question the way I normally act. a. Yes b. No 2. I had an experience that caused me to question my ideas about social roles. a. Yes b. No 3. As I questioned my ideas, I realized I still agreed with my previous beliefs or role expectations. a. Yes b. No 4. A s I questioned my ideas, I realized I no longer agreed with my beliefs or role expectations. a. Yes b. No 5. I realized that other people also questioned their beliefs. a. Yes b. No 6. I thought about acting in a different way from my usual beliefs and roles. a. Yes b. No 7. I felt uncomfortable with traditional social expectations. a. Yes b. No 8. I tried out new roles so that I would become more comfortable or confident in them. a. Yes b. No 9. I tried to figure out a way to adopt these new ways of acting. a. Yes b. No 10. I gathered the information I needed to adopt these new ways of acting. a. Yes b. No 11. I began to think about reactions and feedback from my new behavior. a. Yes b. No


80 12. I took action and adopted these new ways of acting. a. Yes b. No For the following questions please answer in your own words as honestly as possible 13. During your study abroad did you experience a situation that changed your beliefs or values? Please explain 14. Do you think your study abroad experience changed your expectations in life? Please explain. 15. What was the most important thing you learned about the world on your trip? 16. What did you learn about yourself? Please explain. 17. In what ways do you feel the program impacted your life? Please explain. 18. Do you feel that your study abroad program length was adequate to meet your goals? Please explain. Section 2: Program information 1. Which country or countries did you study in? 2. How many days long was your program? _______


81 3. Which of the following descriptions best describes your program? a. I went to a local university 4 or 5 days a week and attended traditional classes of a seminar or lecture style b. I spent some time at a local university, but my classes were combined with field trips or non traditional class time c. The majority of my classes were in the field or practical in nature d. Other Please describe 4. From the following list of class components please select which of these you experienced on your program (select all that apply) a. Essays b. Formal quizzes c. Field quizzes d. Multiple choice exams e. Short answer exams f. Essay exams g. Open book exams h. Debates i. Group projects j. Student led class discussions k. Field lectures l. Field trips m. Presentations n. Experiments o. Other ___________ 5. Did the components in your program impact your learning? How? 6. Are there any program components that were excluded that you feel would have been beneficial? Section 3: Demographic information 1. Are you? 2. What is your class standing?


82 3. What is your age? _____ 4. What is your major? ________ 5. Do you speak the native language of the country(ies) you studied in? 6. How many times had you travelled internationally prior to this trip? 1 3 4 7. If you had previously travelled internationally, what countries had you travelled to? 8. Was your study abroad program related to your major? 9. What was your favorite part of your study abroad program? 10. What was your least favorite part of your study abroad program? Thank you for taking the time to help us. Should you have any questions about this questionnaire, please contact Hannah Strange at or Dr. Heather Gibson at


83 APPENDIX B EMAILS TO STUDENTS REQUESTING PARTICIPATION E Mail Contact for survey Dear UF Study Abroad Students I hope that you had a great time on your study abroad program. As you may remember, at the pre departure meeting my study was announced by UFIC. This study is part of the on line survey telling me about your experiences with your study abroad program. Filling out the online questionnaire will only take about 10 to 15 minutes of your time. By clicking on the link listed below you will see the informed consent form for this study. Please read it and keep a copy of the contact information. The questionnaire is posted online and the link for the survey can be found at the end of the informed consent form. Please fill out the questionnaire by typing in the responses, a questionnaire multiple times. If you have any questions please feel free to contact me Hannah Strange at As always yo ur help is very much appreciated. Thanks Department of Tourism, Recreation and Sport Management PLEASE CLICK ON THE LINK BELOW TO ACCESS THE SURVEY


84 APPENDIX C UF IRB INFORMED CONSENT 2012 Study Abroad Survey UF IRB Informed Consent Thank you for agreeing to take part in this study. Please read carefully before participating in this study. This study is to investigate transformative learning potential among college students studying abroad. The study involves answering a short online questionnaire that will take about 10 15 minutes to complete. The survey is voluntary, but your input is extr emely important. There are no "correct" or "incorrect" answers in the survey, so please express your true feelings. Benefits from this study include a better understanding of what you learned while studying abroad, and how your perspectives may have chang ed. study abroad. Also, the findings of this study may provide UFIC with information about your experiences and behaviors that can be used in the future programming and m arketing of their programs. There is no compensation for completing the survey, but your responses are extremely important. The survey is confidential. Your confidentiality will be protected to the extent provided by law. Your participation in this study is voluntary and you have the right not to answer any questions. There is no penalty for not participating and you are free to withdraw at any time without penalty. There are no risks associated with participation in this study. PLEASE CLICK ON THE LINK BELOW TO ACCESS THE SURVEY If you have any questions concerning this study, please contact: Hannah Strange or by telephone ( 407) 668 8619 You can also contact my university supervisor Dr. H eather Gibson, Associate Professor, Department of Tourism, Recreation and Sport Management, 304 Florida Gym, P.O. Box 118208, University of Florida, Gainesville, FL 32611 8208 Email: Phone: (352) 294 1649. Questions concerning your rights as a participant in this study should be directed to the UFIRB office at (352) 392 0433 or write to Box 112250, University of Florida, Gainesville, FL 32611 2250.


85 LIST OF REFERENCES Aguilar, A. L., & Gingerich, O. (2002). Experiential pedagogy f or study abroad: Educating for global citizenship. Frontiers: The Interdisciplinary Journal of Study Abroad n.v. 41 82. Anderson, P., Lawton, L., Rexeisen, R., & Hubbard, A. (2006). Short term study abroad and intercultural sensitivity: A pilot study. International Journal of Intercultural Relations 30 457 469. Barkema, H. G., Bell, J. H. J., & Pennings, J. (1996). Foreign entry, cultural barriers and learning. Strategic Management Journal, 151 166. Berwick, R. F., & Whalley, T. R. (2000). The experiential bases of culture learning: A case study of Canadian high schoolers in Japan. International Journal of Intercul t ural Relations, 24, 325 340 Bhawuk, D., & Brislin, R. (2000). Cross cultural train ing: A review. Applied Psychology, 49 (1), 162 191. Brock, S. E. (2010). Measuring the importance of precursor steps to transformative learning. Adult Education Quarterly, 60 (2), 122 142 Brown, L. (2009). The transformative power of the international sojourn. Annals of Tourism Research 36 (3), 502 521. Carlson, J. S., & Widaman, K. F. (1988). The effects of study abroad during college on attitudes toward other cultures. International Journal of Intercultural Relations, 12 (1), 1 17 Carr, N. (2005) tourism experiences. Tourism Management, 26 (5), 797 806. Chieffo, L., & Griffiths, L. (2004). Large scale assessment of student attitudes after a short term study abroad program. The Interdisciplinary Journal of Study Abroad 10 165 177. Cohen, E. (1972). Toward a sociology of international tourism. Social Research, 39 (1), 164 182. Commission on the Abraham Lincoln Study Abroad Fellowship Program. (2005). Global competence and national needs. Washington, DC: Lincoln Commission Dewey, J. (1997). Experience and Education: Touchstone Edition New York: Simon and Schuster.


86 Dolby, N. (2004). Encountering an American self: Study abroad and national identity. Comparative Education Review, 48 (2), pp. 150 173. Dukes, R., Lockwood, E., Oliver, H., Pezalla, C., & Wilker, C. (1994). A longitudinal study of a semester at sea voyage. Annals of Tourism Research, 21 (3), 489 498. Dwyer, M. (2004). More is better: The impact of study abroad program duration. Frontiers: The Interdisciplinary Journal of Study Abroad, 10 151 163 Engle, L., & Engle, J. (2003). Study abroad levels: Toward a classification of program types. Frontiers: The Interdiscipl inary Journal of Study Abroad, 9 1 20 Galtung, I. E. (1965). The impact of study abroad. Journal of Peace Research, 2 (3), 258 275. Gudykunst, W. B. (1979). The effects of an intercultural communication workshop on cross cultural attitudes and interaction Communication Education, 28 (3), 179 187 Hensley, T., & Sell, D. (1979). A study abroad program: "An examination of impacts on student attitudes". Teaching Political Science 6 (4), 387 411. Hoff, J.G. (2005). ulture learning process during the study abroad experience. (Unpublished doctoral dissertation). University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, MN. Hofstede, G. (1980). Culture and organizations. International Studies of Management & Organization, 10 (4), 15 41. Institute of International Education (2009). Open Doors: Report on international educational exchange. Retrieved February 2, 2012, from and Publications/Publications and Reports/IIE Bookstore/Open Doors 2009 Institute of International Education (2011). Open Doors: Report on international educational exchange. Retrieved February 2, 2012, fr om and Publications/Publications and Reports/IIE Bookstore/Open Doors 201 Kiely, R. (2004). A chameleon with a complex: Searching for transformation in international service learning. Michigan Journal of Community Service Learning 10 (2), 1 17. Kiely, R. (2005). A transformative learning model for service learning: a longitudinal case study Michigan Journal of Community Service Learning 12 (1), 1 17.


87 King, K. P. (1998). A guide to perspective transformation and learning activities: The learning activities survey. Philadelphia: Research for Better Schools King, K. P. (2009). The handbook of the evolving research of transformative learning based on the Learning Activities Survey Lap information Age Pub. Incorporated. Journal of Transformative Educati on, 6 (2), 104 123. Kitsantas, A. (2004). Studying abroad: The role of college student's goals on the development of cross cultural skills and global understanding. College Student Journal, 38 (3), 441 452. Kogut, B., & Singh, H. (1988). The effect of national culture on the choice of entry mode. Journal of International Business Studies, 411 432. Lepp, A., Gibson, H. (2008). Sensation seeking and tourism: Tourist role, perception of risk and destination choice. Tourism Management, 2 9 (4), 740 750. McCabe, L.T. (1994). The development of a global perspective during participation in Semester at Sea: A comparative Educational Review. 46 (3). McKercher, B., & du Cros, H. (2003). Testing a cultural tourism typology. International Journ al of Tourism Research, 5 (1), 45 58. McKeown, J. S. (2009). The first time effect: the impact of study abroad on college student intellectual development Albany, NY: State University of New York Press. Medina Lopez Portillo, A. (2004). Intercultural learning assessment: The link between program duration and the development of intercultural sensitivity. Frontiers: The Interdisciplinary Journal of Study Abroad, 10 (fall), 179 199 Mezirow, J. (1991). Transformative dimensions of adult learning San Francisco: Jossey Bass. Mezirow, J. (1997). Transformative learning: Theory to practice. New Directions for Adult and Continuing Education 1997 (74), 5 12. Mezirow, J. (2003). Transformative learning as discourse. Journal of Transformative Education, 1 (1), 58 63. Montrose, L. (2002). International study and experiential learning: The academic context. Frontiers : The Interdisciplinary Journal of Study Abroad 8 1 15.


88 Moore, J. (2005). Is higher educa tion ready for transformative learning? University of British Columbia Journal of Transformative Education 3 (1), 76 91. Ng, S. I., Lee, J. A., & Soutar, G. N. (2007). Tourists' intention to visit a country: The impact of cultural distance. Tourism Management, 28 (6), 1497 1506. Ogden, A. (2010). Education abroad and the making of global citizens: Assessing learning outcomes of course embedded, faculty led international programming. (Unpublished doctoral dissertation), Pennsylvania Sta te University, University Park, PN Pagano, M., & Roselle, L. (2009). Beyond reflection through an academic lens: Refraction and international experiential education. Frontiers: The Interdisciplinary Journal of Study Abroad n.v. 217 229. Pedersen, P. (2010). Assessing intercultural effectiveness outcomes in a year long study abroad program. International Journal of Intercultural Relations 34 70 80. Perry, L. (2011). A naturalistic inquiry of service learning in New Zealand university classrooms : Determining and illuminating the influence on student engagement (Unpublished doctoral dissertation). University of Canterbury, New Zealand. Ritz, A. (2011). The educational value of short term study abroad programs as course components. Journal of T eaching in Travel & Tourism 11 (2), 164 178. Robalik, H. A. (2006). Study Abroad: An Exploration of Student Development and Student Perceptions, Rohrlich, B. F., & Martin, J. N. (1991). Host country and reentry adjustment of student sojourners. Inter national Journal of Intercultural Relations, 15 (2), 163 182. Schonlau, M., Fricker, R. D., Elliott, M. N. (2002) Conducting research surveys via e mail and web Pittsburgh, PA: RAND Shenkar, O. (2001). Cultural distance revisited: Towards a more rigoro us conceptualization and measurement of cultural differences. Journal of International Business Studies, 519 535. Steves, R. (2012, January 18). Study abroad is necessity, not luxury. USA Today Retrieved February 2, 2012, from 01 18/study abroad global economy travel/52650834/1 Tarrant, M. (2010). A conceptual framework for exploring the r ole of studies abroad in nurturing global citizenship. Journal of Studies in International Education 14 (5), 433 451.


89 Taylor, E. (1998). The theory and practice of transformative learning: A critical review Columbo: ERIC Clearinghouse on Adult Career a nd Vocational Education. Taylor, E. (2008). Transformative learning theory. New Directions for Adult and Continuing Education 119 (Fall), 5 15. Vogt, J.W. (1976). Wandering: Youth and travel behavior. Annals of Tourism Research, 4 (1), 25 41 Welch, M (2010). Promoting civically engaged scholarship through a study/action group. Journal of Higher Education Outreach & Engagement 7 (3), 111 120. van Wijk, J., Go, F., & van Rekom, J. (2008). Educational travel:: The overseas internship. Annals of Tour ism Research, 35 (3), 690 711.


90 BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH Hannah Elizabeth Strange was born i n 1988 in Reading, England. She attended the University of Florida in Gainesville, Florida, where she graduated cum laude in 2011 with a B achelor of S cience in r ecreation, p arks, and t ourism. After taking a gap year before university, and studying abroad in Australia and Fiji while at the University of Florida she decided to use the skills she had accumulated while abroad, and her passion for travel to inspire others to get an international education. Subsequently she decided to continue her studies at the University of Florida to focus more on study abroad and tourism. After graduation with a M aster of S cience degree in r ecreation, p arks, and t ourism sh e plans to work with American students wishing to study abroad.