An investigation of experiential and transformative learning in study abroad programs
Keywords:Transformative learning, Program length, Program type, Experiential learning, Study abroad, Education abroad
Despite criticism of their outcomes, students are increasingly participating in short-term study abroad programs. This study used transformative learning theory (TLT) to investigate the effects of program type and length on transformative learning (TL), and in particular explore the impact of experiential learning components on TL. Students from a large US university were surveyed on-line upon returning home from summer study abroad (N=216). Data were analyzed using frequencies, ANOVA, and thematic content analyses. No significant differences in TL were found among program types. However, the shortest programs (< 18 days) yielded significantly lower levels of TL than programs ranging 19 to 50+ days. While the shortest programs may not achieve the same degree of TL, students may not need to be abroad for a semester to experience change. This is one of the first studies to provide empirical support for this contention and is a starting point for future research.
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