Date of Award

January 2016

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Educational Foundations & Research

First Advisor

Cheryl Hunter


The number of faculty-led short-term study abroad programs is growing rapidly. However, the literature on pedagogical design of such programs is very limited. This qualitative research study was conducted to explore how faculty members make pedagogical decisions about teaching abroad as well as cognitive processes they engage in when making these decisions. Six faculty members from different institutions and academic departments were interviewed. Their colleagues recognized them as experts in the field based on years of teaching abroad and effectiveness of their practice.

Two important findings came out of this study. First, when making pedagogical decisions about teaching abroad, all study participants, regardless of the discipline they taught in, focused on developing intercultural awareness of their students. The following three elements evolved through data analysis that connected to intercultural awareness: awareness of cultural differences, awareness of cultural similarities, and awareness of cultural self. Participants explained the pedagogical value of each element and shared activities they used to help students develop those elements. The most interesting finding was connected to awareness of cultural similarities. The major goal of this awareness, as described by study participants, was to help students see that at the core “we are all human beings,” and we do not need to fear people from another culture. Instead, it is important to connect to locals and try to understand their perspective.

Another important finding of this study was that faculty participants illustrated signs of metacognition when making pedagogical decisions. They were conscious of factors that influenced their pedagogical decision making (declarative knowledge), developed strategies how to use those factors in their teaching (procedural knowledge), and gave examples to how to use those strategies in specific situations (conditional knowledge). Two common factors participants referred to were the following: their own intercultural learning and uncooperative students. Recommendations for future research and suggestions on what to include in workshops to train novice faculty are provided.