Beyond Reflection: Refraction and International Experiential Education


  • Monica Pagano
  • Laura Roselle



Reflection, Experiential learning, Study abroad, Education abroad, International education, International experience education


Students today are becoming more interested in international opportunities for study and are drawn to alternative programs such as international service-learning and international internships. These programs, however, must be carefully designed. This article proposes utilizing tools that go beyond the traditional understanding of reflection, in order to deepen the academic linkages to experience through reflection that leads to refraction. The authors introduce “refraction” as the transformative learning process that helps students understand and identify the intermediate processes of learning that aid the development of critical thinking skills. Refraction centers learning by integrating and elaborating the experience, the academic subject matter, and the context by examining assumptions and biases. 


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Author Biographies

Monica Pagano

Monica Pagano is Director of Study Abroad at Loyola Marymount University (California). She was formerly Assistant Dean of International Programs at Elon University, Coordinator for the Central America States and Scholarships Program at Hocking College (Ohio) and Assistant to the Directors of the Institute for International Studies in Education at the University of Pittsburgh. Monica is active in contributing to publications and presenting at conferences in International Education. She holds a Ph.D. in Administrative and Policy Studies in International Development Education from the University of Pittsburgh, where her dissertation was, “Education Abroad: Aspects of the Host Culture Students Learn During an International Service Learning Program in Higher Education.”

Laura Roselle

Laura Roselle is Professor of Political Science at Elon University and specializes in international political communication. She has edited two books on television and democracy: Democracy on the Air and Television and Elections, 2nd edition. In 2006 she published Media and the Politics of Failure: Great Powers, Communication Strategies, and Military Defeats with Palgrave/Macmillan. Laura also published (in 2007) Research and Writing in International Relations, with Sharon Spray, a supplementary text for students of international relations and comparative politics. She is president-elect of the international communication section of the International Studies Association. She serves on the editorial board of the new journal Media, War, and Conflict.


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How to Cite

Pagano, M., & Roselle, L. (2009). Beyond Reflection: Refraction and International Experiential Education. Frontiers: The Interdisciplinary Journal of Study Abroad, 18(1), 217–229.



Research Articles