Study Abroad Academic Pre-Departure Course: Increasing Student’s Intercultural Competence Pre-Sojourns
Keywords:intercultural competence, pre-departure preparation, study abroad
Student enrollment in U.S. study abroad programs is at an all-time high, however, the majority of growth is in short-term programs. Some research has shown that short-term programs struggle to increase students’ intercultural competence and can actually serve to reinforce preconceived stereotypes and biases. This study sought to discover if an academic pre-departure course focused on the following seven themes, with the intent to prepare students for their sojourns abroad, would increase students’ intercultural competence: (1) culture, (2) cultural resolution, (3) worldview, (4) journaling and reflexivity, (5) cultural goal training, (6) applied techniques, and (7) a final cultural project. Data was collected using both quantitative and qualitative methods. Findings suggest that a pre-departure course taught in this manner can have a significant impact on students’ intercultural competence, potentially helping to overcome limitations of short-term programs, namely, the limitation of time.
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