CASA-Sevilla is a study abroad programme for US university students with an advanced level of Spanish. In recent years, new patterns of social behaviour among students (mainly the use of technology and low-cost flights) aggravated their difficulties in establishing contacts with the local society, which often resulted in the perpetuation of stereotypes. The programme goals of cultural immersion and language improvement were therefore at risk. Through an action research and a participatory organisational development process, CASA-Sevilla stakeholders carried out a profound reform of the programme, based on the principles of active pedagogy, mentoring and community-engaged learning. This section illustrates this reform process, with its highlights and shadows.
Action research reform of a US study abroad programme in Seville, Spain
Eva Infante Mora and Davydd J. Greenwood
This article discusses the nature of Chinese students' transnational experiences and its impact on their identities within and beyond national and cultural boundaries. The discussion is located in the theoretical framework of transnationalism and explores in detail the ways in which students adapt, change and develop, both in the host country of their study and also on their return to work in their home countries. Empirical evidence in the article is drawn from the findings of three studies, led by the author, which have investigated the pedagogical, sociocultural and emotional challenges that Chinese students have encountered when studying at British universities, and the perceived impact of their overseas studies on their lives and careers in their home countries. The research findings suggest that there are distinctive patterns of challenges, struggles, adjustments, change and achievement over time – all of which are embedded in the processes of socialisation, enculturation and professionalisation. Such experiences are both transitional and transformational and, most profoundly, they necessitate identity change at and across different layers of boundaries. At the heart of this identity change is a constant, emotional search for a reflexive sense of self as an embodied individual, a member of a professional group and a member of an organisation.
Neriko Musha Doerr
’: students who belonged to the Māori–English bilingual unit at a secondary school in Aotearoa/New Zealand; an American student who studied abroad in the U.K. and learned in ways that are not valued in the dominant study-abroad discourse of immersion; and
The article focuses on Chinese students' hopes and expectations before leaving to study abroad. The national political environment for their decision to go abroad is shaped by an official narrative of China's transition to a more creative and innovative economy. Students draw on this narrative to interpret their own educational histories and prior experiences, while at the same time making use of imaginaries of 'Western' education to redefine themselves as independent individuals in an increasingly globalised and individualised world. Through a case study of prospective pre-school teachers preparing to study abroad, the article shows how personal, professional and even national goals are closely interwoven. Students expect education abroad to be a personally transformative experience, but rather than defining their goals of individual freedom and creativity in opposition to the authoritarian political system, they think of themselves as having a role in the transformation of Chinese attitudes to education and parent-child relations.
Canadian Students' Motivations for Study in Australia
This article examines the ways in which Canadian students on an exchange or study abroad programme in Australia articulated the value of their experience in connection with time and, more particularly, time constraints. Where Canadian universities often promote study abroad programmes in connection with the global knowledge-based economy, students' desires to travel abroad were more often rooted in a desire to take 'time out' while remaining productive towards the completion of future goals. Students' narratives reveal a connection between time management, travel, and the formations of a class identity. Rather than analysing time strictly as a form of capital, however, insights are generated around time as practice, that is, how time becomes an important factor in students' continual negotiations of space, social relationships, and what could be called a 'lifetime itinerary'.
Studying abroad can be a life-altering experience, but not necessarily. I credit the two study-abroad experiences I had as an undergraduate as setting my course as an anthropologist. At this stage in my career, having directed, taught and evaluated five study-abroad programmes in three different countries, I felt ready to create my own based on the pros and cons I had observed. In December 2013, I completed a pilot run of a binational learning community focused on food, culture and social justice in Ecuador and Oregon and would like to share the experience in order to encourage other higher education teachers to invent similar programmes. It is not an easy model to pull off, especially in a large state institution, but it achieved the kind of coherence that I have found lacking in other study-abroad programmes and was a very satisfying teaching/learning experience. I will outline some issues concerning study-abroad programmes and then describe
the programme I was involved in implementing in 2013.
Eva Infante Mora
Evaluation is essential to the analysis of the performance of academic programmes and is a central feature of the academic accountability movement. Most study abroad programmes, however, lack evaluation protocols, even though establishing them and acting on the results would contribute to their credibility. This final section of a comprehensive account of the reform of a study abroad programme presents how CASA-Sevilla has developed evaluation strategies to inform pedagogical changes in each successive semester to improve student-learning outcomes. The programme’s aim is to achieve a 360-degree assessment by treating students holistically and including all involved faculty, staff, community partners and host families. The aim is also to be transparent in pointing out the problems in the programme’s performance and use them as an impetus for improvement. This section is written to share what we have learned in hopes of starting a more robust dialogue among study abroad programmes about evaluation.
Eva Infante Mora, Marina Markot, Stephen Capobianco, Melina Ivanchikova, Richard Kiely, Richard Feldman, and Amy Cheatle
The action research process initiated in 2015 to make a thorough reform of the CASA-Sevilla study-abroad programme not only produced significant pedagogical developments but also brought about a profound change in the way of working and relating within the programme work organisation itself and with Cornell University colleagues. This section focuses on organisational changes in each of the units involved, and reflects a path full of transitions, diplomacy, exchange of perspectives and inter-institutional as well as intercultural learning. To make these pedagogical reforms work in practice required significant organisational change and support efforts on the part of both CASA-Sevilla and the supporting organisations at Cornell University.
Kirsten Jæger and Malene Gram
This article investigates the views of quality in higher education held by two groups of international students: Chinese students at a Danish university and Danish students at Chinese universities. Given that there are no agreed international 'quality standards' in higher education, we analysed the students' understanding of the 'quality values' of their host institution and their own preferences and priorities. Representatives of the two groups participated in an interview study addressing the experience of academic quality at their study-abroad university. An intriguing trend was identified in the data. Danish students felt confident that they themselves were able to judge the academic quality of programmes, classes and lecturers both at home and abroad. The participating Chinese students tended to express themselves in slightly depreciatory terms regarding the academic quality values of their home universities. Regarding research methods and theoretical knowledge, they adopted the quality values of the Danish host university and referred to these values when evaluating their home universities.
Kearsley A. Stewart
Interest in short-term international placements in global health training for U.S.-based medical students is growing; the trend is mirrored for global health undergraduate students. Best practices in field-based global health training can increase success for medical students, but we lack a critical framework for the undergraduate global health field experience. In what ways does an undergraduate field experience in global health resemble a medical student's first international health elective? Is it more similar to a study-abroad programme or a service-learning experience with a focus on personal development, civic responsibility and community engagement? This article suggests that an undergraduate global health field experience contains features of both the international medical elective and a traditional service-learning programme. I analyse a case study of a short-term U.S.-based undergraduate global health project and explore the intersections of research, professional training and service learning.