Degree Name

EdD (Doctor of Education)

Program

Educational Leadership

Date of Award

8-2012

Committee Chair or Co-Chairs

Catherine H. Glascock

Committee Members

Pamela H. Scott, Virginia P. Foley, Cecil N. Blankenship

Abstract

This qualitative study examined the differences among the experiences of 7 American undergraduate students; 4 who studied for a semester in Ghana, a developing country, and 3 who studied for a semester in England, a developed country. Using phenomenology as its guiding framework, transcribed interviews were analyzed and the focal phenomenon of the experience was sought. In addition, examination of the literature suggested that study abroad in less developed countries had the potential to impact the experience of students at a deeper level because of the potential for what Jean Piaget termed constructive disequilibrium (Blake & Pope, 2008, p. 61).

The data indicated that both student groups had significant experiences abroad but that each group's significant experiences were linked to the nature of their host country. In Ghana, 3 students discussed their sometimes shocking experience as a minority while 1 participant, a 1st generation African-American, discussed the confusing experience of identifying with the racial majority there, but only until she was identified as an American when she spoke.

In England, students were appalled to find the English people so openly expressing racism. They encountered people who were considered liberal by American standards and found they were identified in England as conservatives by English standards; a shock of sorts. The phenomenon encompassing all these experiences was of the students discovering they were part of a particular culture and starting to understand why they had certain values and attitudes.

Findings of this research merely scratch the surface of the issue at hand and other researchers are encouraged to replicate the study with a larger number of participants, using a combination of qualitative and quantitative research methods, and making sure that the shortcomings of this study in regards to validity are avoided.

Document Type

Dissertation - Open Access

Copyright

Copyright by the authors.

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