Exploring the developmental potential of adventure experiences in a study abroad program
Anderson, Mallory Alicia
MetadataShow full item record
Within the last decade research in study abroad education has aimed to provide a means to measure or prove the transformation and change students report when they return. Most commonly used to interpret this transformation or change have been theories focused on global competence and intercultural learning. While student growth in global competency is beneficial, research focused solely on these objectives is limiting. Educators and researchers have given insufficient attention to other aspects of psychosocial development that may be reflected in assertions of change or transformation. While studying abroad students participate in a variety of experiences both in and out of the classroom. The experiences students are having may contribute to the feelings of change or transformation expressed upon returning home. Understanding how certain experiences in and out of the classroom may aid in a student’s psychosocial development would allow educators to create programs that cultivate deeper learning. This exploratory study focused on understanding the perceptions of what is gained from adventure-type experiences in study abroad and if students’ believed specific experiences contributed to their development more than others. Using a case study approach the stories of three students were collected through interviews, journals, and their Student Development Task and Lifestyles (SDTLA) assessment scores. While not generalizable, the findings in this study support the idea of students experiencing psychosocial change after studying abroad. Six areas of developmental growth were identified from participating primarily in adventure and service-learning experiences. Implications for educators and for future research suggest that there is a connection to developmental growth by being out of one’s comfort zone, having deeper interactions with locals, reflecting on experiences, and having opportunities for autonomy.