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ERIC Number: ED549255
Record Type: Non-Journal
Publication Date: 2011
Pages: 199
Abstractor: As Provided
Reference Count: N/A
ISBN: 978-1-2673-7708-1
Undergraduate Students' Perceptions of Developing Intercultural Competence during a Semester Abroad in Chile
Covert, Hannah Holt
ProQuest LLC, Ph.D. Dissertation, University of Florida
The federal government, national educational organizations, and universities support undergraduate student participation in study abroad programs. Study abroad provides students the opportunity to gain skills required in an era of global interdependence, such as foreign language proficiency, knowledge of other countries, and intercultural skills. More research is needed, however, to better understand and document how and what students learn while abroad. Intercultural competence, one of several possible study abroad learning outcomes, is defined as the ability to behave and communicate effectively and appropriately based on one's intercultural knowledge, skills, and attitudes. Knowledge of how students perceive their development of intercultural competence is important for understanding how learning occurs in study abroad contexts. The purpose of my study was to investigate undergraduate students' perceptions about developing intercultural competence while studying abroad for a semester. Specifically, I investigated a) how students experience cultural differences while studying abroad, b) students' perceptions of their intercultural communication and behavior, and c) the activities that students perceive as promoting their intercultural learning while studying abroad. Following a constructivist perspective, I collected data through photo elicitation, reflective journaling, and semi-structured interviews. Participants consisted of seven U.S. undergraduate students that were studying for a semester at three universities in Chile. I analyzed the data with structural analysis, visual analysis, and thematic analysis. My study resulted in four main findings: a) how narrative inquiry informs our understanding of intercultural competence, b) how participants discern cultural differences, c) the role of personal agency in the development of intercultural competence, and c) social interaction as a means for intercultural learning. These findings have implications for study abroad research and practice. In particular, they contribute to the current conversation in the field of study abroad about intervening in student learning and they enrich our theoretical understanding of the development of intercultural competence. In terms of study abroad practice, they offer suggestions for instructional design, program structure, and advising. (Full text of this dissertation may be available via the University of Florida Libraries web site. Please check [The dissertation citations contained here are published with the permission of ProQuest LLC. Further reproduction is prohibited without permission. Copies of dissertations may be obtained by Telephone (800) 1-800-521-0600. Web page:]
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Publication Type: Dissertations/Theses - Doctoral Dissertations
Education Level: Higher Education; Postsecondary Education
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers - Location: Chile