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Directing Short-Term Study Abroad Programs at a Public Flagship University: Exploring the Faculty Experience

Kelly Watts, Johnson & Wales University


Faculty-led, study abroad programs have increased throughout the United States in recent years as institutions are eager to globalize their campuses (American Council on Education, 2012). These programs offer students the opportunity to actively engage with college faculty while expanding their cultural horizons. Recent research indicates that the benefits for students who participate in short-term programs are rich and rival that of semester-long programs in the area of global awareness (Chieffo & Griffiths, 2004), critical thinking (Finn & McNamara, 2011), and intellectual development (McKeown, 2009). Additionally, the out-of-classroom interaction with faculty can positively impact student learning (Kuh, 2001; Pascarella, 2001), student engagement (Umbach & Warzynski, 2005), and student satisfaction (Kuh & Hu, 2001). While many studies describe the student study abroad experience (Ogden, 2010; Rollins, 2009; Wenner, 2009), minimal research examine the faculty experience (Goodwin & Nact, 1991; Hornig, 1995; Rasch, 2001). The purpose of this qualitative, descriptive inquiry was to explore the faculty experience directing a short-term study abroad program. This descriptive study was guided by the following research question: How do faculty members describe their experience directing a short-term, study abroad program? Participants included N=12 faculty at a public flagship university who directed or co-directed a short-term, study abroad program during January 2014 - August 2014. Using individual interviews, reflective questionnaires, and document analyses, findings included four key themes: 1) intentional design of the program, 2) great sense of responsibility to students, the university and international community, 3) transformative faculty-student connection, and 4) campus community disconnect, as well as three contextual findings resulting from interview data analysis: motivation to serve as a study abroad program director, advice for new faculty directors, and emotions at the end of the program. The findings from this study may inform faculty, administrators and the higher education community about the faculty experience directing a study abroad program and how to best meet the needs of faculty in the program design phase, during their travel overseas with students, and when they return to campus.

Subject Area

Educational administration

Recommended Citation

Watts, Kelly, "Directing Short-Term Study Abroad Programs at a Public Flagship University: Exploring the Faculty Experience" (2015). Dissertation & Theses Collection. AAI3700225.