Understanding How Program Factors Influence Intercultural Learning in Study Abroad: The Benefits of Mixed-Method Analysis
With the proliferation of short term study abroad programs at institutions of higher education, there is a need for more rigorous assessment of how these pr ograms contribute to intercultural learning. This article presents a multi institutional comparative study of students’ intercultural learning in six short term study abroad programs in Canada and the U nited S tates , employing both quantitative and qualitat ive methods. The study combines pre and post IDI survey scores with a qualitative analysis of student writing to present evidence about the impact of specific program features on students’ intercultural learning, as well as an analysis of how the students themselves make sense of their experiences abroad. We argue that the extent of pre departure intercultural training has a positive relationship with intercultural learning outcomes. Additionally, we present evidence that service learning opportunities and intra group dynamics contribute to students’ intercultural competence. We conclude that mixed methods analysis provides the most effective way of identifying how different program factors contribute to intercultural growth, when that growth occurs in a pr ogram cycle, and how program leaders can provide effective intercultural interventions to best facilitate student learning abroad.
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