ERIC Number: EJ1079345
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2015-Sep
Reference Count: 13
A Sociocultural Investigation of Identity: How Students Navigate the Study Abroad Experience
Gieser, James D.
Journal of College Student Development, v56 n6 p637-643 Sep 2015
From the recruitment of international students and the establishment of cross-border research partnerships to study abroad programs, internationalization is viewed as a necessary means to prepare students for thoughtful action in a globalized world. In particular, studying abroad is regarded as a powerful vehicle for increasing students' global awareness, intercultural competence, and appreciation of difference. Experiences abroad can have a positive impact on students in all areas of development, including the cognitive, intrapersonal, and interpersonal domains. Recent studies have explored how students make sense of their experiences abroad and how, for example, their constructed identities and assumptions in relation to race, gender, and national identity shape the ways they do so. To further contribute to this body of literature, the purpose of this study was to explore how study abroad students approached and negotiated the sociocultural practices they encountered at a South African university, and how their multiple identities and assumptions shaped this sense-making process. This study was conducted at a large, urban university in South Africa. A social constructivist worldview guided the study. A qualitative interview approach, framed by an interpretivist perspective, guided the data collection and analysis procedures. Anthony Giddens's (1991) concept of fateful or critical moments was used as a tool to operationalize the theoretical framework within participants' experiential world. The findings of this study demonstrate that cross-cultural interactions, such as those encountered through the study abroad experience, can lead to greater self-awareness and appreciation of intercultural difference.
Descriptors: Foreign Countries, Study Abroad, Global Approach, Cultural Awareness, Intercultural Communication, Identification (Psychology), Sociocultural Patterns, Qualitative Research, Cultural Pluralism, Constructivism (Learning), College Students, Credibility, Participant Observation, Semi Structured Interviews
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Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Research
Education Level: Higher Education; Postsecondary Education
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers - Location: South Africa