ERIC Number: EJ1071128
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2015
Applying Geocritical Theory to the Study Abroad Learning Experience
Walonen, Michael K.
Frontiers: The Interdisciplinary Journal of Study Abroad, v25 p37-46 Spr 2015
Recent studies have shown that employers are coming to increasingly value study abroad experience among prospective employees, and that study abroad may foster broad cognitive gains among its participants. In their survey of employer attitudes regarding international study, Stevan Trooboff et al. find that senior management and human resources officials, particularly those who have studied abroad themselves, hold study abroad experience in high esteem and rank the skills they see as fostered by international study very highly among those they wish their employees to possess (20, 21, 24, 28). At the same time, countless study abroad educators have anecdotally testified to increased academic performance and personal maturity among study abroad students, including Kenneth Wagner and Tony Magistrale, who claim that study abroad leads to a stronger sense of autonomy/self confidence, the adoption of a more broadly "political" perspective on social life, and the ability to shift cultural perspective and call into question ethnocentric values (132-139). Joshua S. McKeon goes even further, empirically documenting how among students with no prior international experience, study abroad leads to the adoption of more sophisticated, nuanced worldviews and learning strategies, and can help to close the learning gap these students can experience between themselves and more privileged peers. In light of this increase in study abroad participation, it seems imperative to question how the study abroad experience can move beyond a touristic mode into a more sophisticated experience. This essay employs geocritical theory to inquire into the pedagogical uses and larger social functioning of texts that represent the places to which study abroad students flock in search of knowledge and experience. The essay asks what are some of the ways texts and the places represented relate to each other. Furthermore, the essay asks how these texts might be put to use in a study abroad educational context to help students grow into global citizens and pave the way to a more harmoniously international world.
Descriptors: Study Abroad, Learning Experience, Academic Achievement, Maturity (Individuals), Employer Attitudes, Surveys, Human Resources, Administrator Attitudes, Skill Development, Self Esteem, Personal Autonomy, Political Attitudes, Cultural Awareness, Ethnocentrism, World Views, Learning Strategies, Critical Theory, Information Sources, Correlation, Writing (Composition), Program Descriptions, Orientation, Foreign Countries, Place Based Education, Intelligence
Frontiers Journal. Dickinson College P.O. Box 1773, Carlisle, PA 17013. Tel: 717-254-8858; Fax: 717-245-1677; Web site: http://www.frontiersjournal.com
Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Descriptive
Education Level: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers - Location: France (Paris)