Written by: Dr. Aysen Bakir, Professor of Marketing at Illinois State University
Editor’s note: Dr. Bakir received a “Going Global with SoTL” Mini-grant in the 2015-16 academic year. Here, Dr. Bakir reports on the project she designed for her students, with feedback from several students as to their perceptions of learning as part of their short-term study abroad experience.
As we become more connected in the world, it also becomes more important to our students to have good understanding of different cultures and have the skills that would help them to function successfully in the workplace. Accordingly, it is important that our students have the skills and the experiences to differentiate them in the global marketplace. Studying abroad (whether short term or long term) can be one of those experiences that can help our students to have better understanding of the different cultures. Study abroad can also help the students to gain the skills and knowledge needed in their development as global citizens. In fact, business schools recognized the importance of globalization and have been implementing more global curriculum in the last two decades (Toncar and Cudmore, 2000; Lamont and Friedman, 1997). Studies also show that business-study abroad programs can lead to meaningful changes in students’ intercultural development (Payan, Svensson and Hogevold 2012). I developed a short-term study abroad program to address some of these issues. The study abroad experience included company visits and cultural excursions. These activities aimed to provide exposure to how businesses operate in different cultures, types of challenges they have, and the strategies companies implement in Peru. Additionally, students were exposed to Peru’s very rich history providing a great exposure to a culture that is significantly different from that of the United States.
Students who participated in the program reported learning in disciplinary content as well as in cultural knowledge. Requirements for the study abroad experience included several elements, notably a presentation assignment that have the students reflect on some of their experiences. The following excerpts from presentations of the study abroad participants provided some perspectives regarding to their professional and personal experiences:
- “This trip has helped me learn a lot of how business is affected by culture.”
- “The Inca Market allowed me apply my sales strategies I have been learning in the classroom to a real life situation. It was interesting to apply these skills and see how they are similar across the world. Although it might vary due to language barrier, sales practices are almost universal.”
- “Being in a country that did not predominantly speak English was an eye opening experience. There were many times where I relied on hand motions and body language to communicate what I was trying to say. It’s amazing how we can still communicate with people without speaking”
- “… Peru taught me a lot of life lessons… I loved becoming more culturally aware of how Americans can actually be different and can benefit from seeing how other people live… I have learned that I need to travel more and put myself outside of my comfort zone because that is how an individual grows.”
Overall, this short-term study abroad program seemed successful in enhancing students’ professional and personal knowledge by exposing them to a different culture than they are familiar with and engaging them in new learning opportunities beyond the classroom. This out-of-class experience helped students gain business, historical and geographical knowledge to enhance their intercultural skills for more agile professional functioning in their professional futures.
Lamont, Lawrence M. and Ke Friedman (1997), “Meeting the Challenges to Undergraduate Marketing education,” Journal of Marketing Education, 19 (Fall), 17-30.
Payan, Janice M., Goran Svensson and Nils M. Hogevold (2012), “The Effect of Attributes of Study Abroad and Risk aversion on the Future Likelihood to Study Abroad: A Study Of U.S. and Norwegian Undergraduate Marketing Students,” Journal for Advancement of Marketing Education, 20 (3), 70-81.
Toncar, Mark F. and Brian V. Cudmore (2000), “The Overseas Internship Experience,” Journal of Marketing Education, 22 (1), 54-63.