Short-term Study Abroad Programs: Where They Came From, How They Work, and Why They Often Don't
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This dissertation shows that the ideology of liberalism formed the basis of the Doctrine of Study Abroad (DSA). The DSA was formed in the 1940s and 1950s and teaches that any time spent studying abroad is beneficial and increases tolerance and world peace. The DSA was established by liberal policy makers within institutions of higher education as a method of liberal education to instill the principles of liberalism in the rising generation. The historically established DSA and its assumptions were tested against the contemporary short-term study abroad movement using three study abroad groups from Texas A&M University. Based on the results it is shown that short-term study abroad does not hold up to the assumptions of the DSA. It is therefore concluded that culture is not inherent in study abroad, that students only make shallow observations and interpretations of potentially meaningful cultural interactions when left to their own devices. It is suggested that ?interventions,? such as ?cultural coaching? and time set aside for focus and directed reflection be made within the process of student learning while abroad to enable students to have meaningful cultural interactions. This dissertation argues that suggestions proposed in this research and by the ?learning centered? movement will not be incorporated into study abroad programs due to the historical inertia of the DSA and its influence within institutions of higher education. The dissertation concludes that it is necessary to take a critical attitude toward the fundamental presuppositions of the educational paradigm one is investigating, that education research is important because education policy is prone to wishful thinking, and that making critical investigations are necessary to expose flaws in order to correct them.