Thresholds in Education
This paper explores the emerging themes in the development and implementation of a short-term study abroad tour of Ireland and Northern Ireland by education and social work majors. The twenty-two student participants were invited to take part in a post-travel focus group process to discover how the experience impacted their developing professional identities. As the researchers reviewed the focus group transcripts and reflected on the experience, powerful ideas regarding the development of a successful study abroad experience emerged. The following four themes emerged: instructors need to purposefully schedule the experience to meet the social and learning needs of the students; instructors need to fully immerse students in the culture for a more effective, meaningful, and lasting experience; students must rigorously engage in the cultural and educational expectations while on the study tour; and the students need multiple spaces during the tour to discuss and debrief the experiences that challenge their preconceived expectations. Although it would be premature to say these themes rise to the level of “best practices” at this point, this research will help direct and strengthen future studies of faculty-led study abroad experiences.
First published in Thresholds in Education.
Tack, David M. and Carney, Jeremy, "Structuring a short-term study abroad experience to foster professional identity growth in undergraduate education and social work students" (2018). Teaching & Learning Faculty Publications. 9.