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Short -term study abroad: Impact on the development of global competencies at a public college of art and design in the northeast

Maureen Christina Keefe, Johnson & Wales University


It is difficult to ignore global issues, as described in newspapers, reported on television, and discussed in the classroom. Higher education serves an important role in addressing these issues, through helping the United States maintain its competitive edge by preparing knowledgeable graduates who can function effectively as world citizens. Study abroad is one way to promote the knowledge, skills, and attitudes that contribute to understanding other countries and cultures. Since the early 1900s, when junior-year abroad became popular, students have been encouraged to learn through travel. The literature supports the overall positive impact of study abroad, particularly for semester or longer programs. Increasingly, however, as students take advantage of shorter programs, it is important to assess the value of short-term study abroad, particularly in regard to educational outcomes. This action research study described the relationship of short-term study abroad courses to the development of students' global competencies and other outcomes by addressing these research questions: (1) Do students' global competencies, as defined by level of intercultural sensitivity, change as a result of short-term study abroad courses? (2) To what extent and in what manner do student students' demographic characteristics relate to the development of intercultural sensitivity? (3) What additional outcomes are developed through participation in short-term study abroad courses? Using a sequential explanatory, mixed methods approach, the study examined five short-term study abroad courses offered at a small, public, art college in the Northeast. Data were collected from pre-travel and post-travel administrations of the Intercultural Development Inventory (IDI) to students (N = 69), from student interviews (n = 8), and from an observational journal. Within a phenomenological framework, the results were analyzed and integrated. The results did not indicate significant growth in intercultural sensitivity. However, qualitative analysis did identify growth in students' self-awareness, interest in and openness to other cultures, and development as artists. The study findings will be used to provide direction to college leaders for program improvement and to suggest promising avenues for further research.

Subject Area

Art education|Higher education

Recommended Citation

Keefe, Maureen Christina, "Short -term study abroad: Impact on the development of global competencies at a public college of art and design in the northeast" (2008). Dissertation & Theses Collection. AAI3344292.