Exploring the Influence of an Ethiopian Short-Term Study Abroad Experience on Pre-Service Teachers’ transformative Learning and Reflection Skills


  • Meredith K. Jones University of North Carolina Wilmington
  • Heidi J. Higgins University of North Carolina Wilmington
  • Michele A. Parker University of North Carolina Wilmington




Case study, critical reflection, pre-service teachers, short-term study abroad, transformative learning


This case study explores the transformative learning of pre-service teachers that occurred during a short-term study abroad trip to Ethiopia. During this study abroad trip, students participated in a variety of experiences that led to transformative learning. These included teaching lessons in primary classrooms with Ethiopian children, participating in cultural excursions, and engaging in critical reflection throughout the trip. Data sources for this case study include students’ blogs and journals, university faculty’s anecdotal notes, and a focus group with students a year after the trip. Findings from this study suggest students faced disorienting dilemmas, emotional disequilibrium, and exploration of new roles and situations that all led to transformative learning. This case study adds to the body of research supporting the benefits of short-term study abroad trips on students’ learning. Recommendations for study abroad organizers and faculty are provided.


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Author Biographies

Meredith K. Jones, University of North Carolina Wilmington

Dr. Meredith K. Jones is an Associate Professor of early childhood education at the University of North Carolina Wilmington. Her teaching and research areas focus on supporting early childhood pre-service teachers, global perspectives of early childhood education, and leadership in the field of early childhood education. She obtained a master’s degree in early childhood education from the University of North Carolina Charlotte and a Ph.D. from University of North Carolina Chapel Hill.

Heidi J. Higgins, University of North Carolina Wilmington

Dr. Heidi J. Higgins is an Associate Professor of elementary mathematics education at the University of North Carolina Wilmington. Her teaching and research areas of interest and expertise include children’s mathematical thinking, pre-service teachers’ understanding of mathematical concepts, international approaches to teaching mathematics, impact of intellectual development on ability to implement best teaching practices in mathematics, and teaching mathematics for social equity.

Michele A. Parker, University of North Carolina Wilmington

Dr. Michele A. Parker is from Brooklyn, New York. She double-majored in Sociology and Political Science at SUNY Stonybrook. After college, Michele obtained a master’s degree in Higher Education and Student Affairs Administration. Later she earned a Ph.D. in Educational Research, Statistics, and Evaluation at the University of Virginia. At UNC Wilmington, Michele is a Professor in the Educational Leadership Department. Since 2007, she has taught research and evaluation courses for undergraduate and graduate students.


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How to Cite

Jones, M., Higgins, H. ., & Parker, M. (2023). Exploring the Influence of an Ethiopian Short-Term Study Abroad Experience on Pre-Service Teachers’ transformative Learning and Reflection Skills. Frontiers: The Interdisciplinary Journal of Study Abroad, 35(3), 1–23. https://doi.org/10.36366/frontiers.v35i3.702



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