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Perspective Transformation: Analyzing the Outcomes of International Education

By Krista Diane Tacey


The purpose of this dissertation was to analyze the impact of international experiential education on life choices, specifically those related to career and educational goals. This was accomplished through two main phases of research. In the first phase, a web-based survey was used to explore the question of whether international experiential education did, in fact, impact life choices. Responses from this initial phase were used to identify a purposive sample of eight respondents with whom telephone interviews were conducted in the second phase of the study. The goal of the interviews was to determine, for those who indicated that their life choices had been impacted by the abroad experience, when and why it had happened. The evaluation was done by applying Mezirow?s transformative learning theory to the analysis. The self-reported responses indicated that there was an impact on life choices related to educational and career goals in almost 80 percent of the 74 survey respondents. These data were used as the foundation for the second phase of the study, which examined the catalysts for, and the process of, transformation through the lens of transformative learning theory. Almost all respondents indicated that the international experience had transformed their perspectives on their identity and purpose in life. Seven out of eight respondents discussed how they had gained an understanding of the fact that where one is born defines his or her perspective. One?s sociocultural environment defines who one is and how he or she sees the world. The international experience allows a person to see themselves through the eyes of others. While the timing and specifics of the catalysts varied, each of these seven had gone through the phases of transformation--disorienting dilemma, critical reflection, changed frame of reference--with some relation to the abroad experience

Topics: international education, transformative learning theory, adult education, cultural psychology, Fulbright English Teaching Assistant, study abroad
Year: 2011
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