The SoTL Advocate

Supporting efforts to make public the reflection and study of teaching and learning at Illinois State University and beyond…


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Business and Cultural Experiences in Peru

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.

redbirdperuAs 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.

References Cited

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.

 

 

 

 

 


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Student Teaching in Eastbourne, England: A SoTL Small Grant Project Grant One Year Later

Written by: Erin Mikulec and Jill Donnel, School of Teaching and Learning at Illinois State University

globalThe College of Education and the University of Brighton have worked in partnership for over 25 years to provide ISU students with the opportunity to complete half of their 16-week student teaching experience in schools in Eastbourne, England. However, to date, there has been no longitudinal research using multiple measures of data to investigate the impact(s) of the program. To that end, we proposed a study to examine the personal and professional learning outcomes of students who complete half of their student teaching in Eastbourne, England.

We began with a pilot study in October 2015 with five students participating in the program and collected the first iteration of data with a group of 18 students in February 2016. The students represented three different majors in the School of Teaching and Learning: Early Childhood Education, Elementary Education and Middle Level Education. Prior to leaving for England, the students had completed eight weeks of student teaching in schools in Illinois.

The study included multiple measures of data over the course of the students’ 8-week experience in England:

  • Students completed pre-departure modules to help prepare them for living in England and to familiarize them with the English school system, the National Curriculum, and classroom management practices.
  • We then traveled with the students for the first week of their experience, where we participated in their induction and orientation activities, and accompanied them to their schools to meet their cooperating teachers. We held a focus group discussion after the school visit in which the students discussed their first day at school, their decision to participate in the program, and their expectations for their student teaching experiences.
  • Over the course of the semester, students completed weekly reflections. This allowed us as the researchers to observe growth and development over the course of the experience, rather than at a fixed point in time. Each reflection provided guided questions focusing on different aspects of teaching and also allowed for making comparisons between student teaching experiences in Illinois and England. Site supervisors from the University of Brighton visited and evaluated the students twice during the program. These reports were also collected as data and provided an external perspective on the students’ teaching practices.
  • At the end of the 8-week student teaching program, students completed a final reflection in which they discussed how they believed the experience had changed them personally and professionally, their challenges and successes, what they will take with them from the experience into their future classrooms, and their preparation to return home to the United States.

Although we are now in the final stage of collecting our third iteration of data, we have identified several emerging themes from looking at our first two cohorts of data. Our initial findings indicate that there were personal and professional learning outcomes across all three majors, within each major, and even several shared between two majors.  For instance, the data revealed that the experience led to increased self-confidence both personally and professionally, as well as an increase in cultural awareness, in and out of the classroom for all three majors. In terms of themes shared between two majors, Early Childhood Education and Elementary Education students reported that the experience helped them to practice differentiation in instruction, and to see the value of student choice in the classroom. Data from Elementary and Middle Level Education students indicated that their experience helped them to work with diverse student populations and to negotiate classroom management strategies that are different from what they had experienced during their student teaching placement in Illinois.

Across all program areas, the participants identified ways in which they believed that the English school system exemplified certain aspects of teaching that they had not seen in a similar manner in their Illinois placements. Overall, the initial findings indicate that the student teaching experience in Eastbourne provided participants with a hands-on opportunity to compare and contrast the U.S. and the U.K. educational systems. By finishing the remainder of their student teaching in England, the students were able to recognize differences in practices and how they could use this practical experience improve upon their own in their future classrooms.

With the third and final iteration of data concluding, we look forward to analyzing the remaining data and completing the project. We presented our initial findings at the ISSoTL conference in October, 2016 in Los Angeles, as well as at ISU’s University-Wide Teaching and Learning Symposium in January, 2017. Both presentations yielded constructive and positive feedback. In addition to submitting a manuscript for publication, the results from this study will also be used to inform practice in the School of Teaching and Learning’s student teaching program, both in Illinois and England.


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Studying Outcomes from Study Abroad: Pre-Travel Thoughts

Written by: Jennifer Friberg, Cross Endowed Chair in the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning and Associate Professor of Communication Sciences and Disorders at Illinois State University

Study abroad has become something quite common at many college campuses, Illinois State University included. Faculty may believe that such experiences for students constitute out-of-class opportunities to develop, apply, and/or synthesize knowledge and skills learned in the classroom. Students may engage in study abroad programs to see the world, nurture an appreciation of different cultures, develop enhanced disciplinary/vocational knowledge, or grow interpersonal/intrapersonal skills. This is not an exhaustive list! There are many faculty and student motivations for the growth in study abroad; however many who participate in such programs aren’t able to cite systematic evidence about student learning as a result of study abroad participation…So, my question is (for reasons that will become evident below) what does SoTL tell us about study abroad?

briggs blogCindy Miller-Perrin and Don Thompson published an article titled “Outcomes of Global Education: External and Internal Change Associated with Study Abroad” in New Directions for Student Services in 2014. This article provided a lovely literature review of possible learning outcomes resulting from scholarship on the study abroad experience, broadly categorizing these into two groups, explained below with a sampling of evidence:

External learning outcomes (focused on interpersonal and disciplinary learning) as a result of study abroad have been noted in areas such as second language acquisition, intercultural learning, globalization, and disciplinary knowledge. Internal learning outcomes have been noted in areas such as emotional, intellectual, and spiritual growth following study abroad.

Though there is a good deal of SoTL work focused on external learning outcomes post-study abroad, Miller-Perrin and Thompson (2014, p. 80) report that:

“Although much attention in the research literature has focused on external outcomes, internal changes that occur in the lives of students who study and live abroad are also important…and, despite the importance of internal change, research addressing [these changes] has not received as much attention in terms of their connection to study abroad experiences.”

In my perusal of study abroad SoTL, I have noted other voids in extant research, most notably those focused on purpose and duration. Faculty plan and lead study abroad experiences for students for a variety of reasons that might impact learning outcomes and, similarly, the length of trip could impact learning outcomes (e.g., short term vs. long term study abroad. We don’t know far more than we do know – that much is clear!

In the last two years, I’ve had the opportunity to be involved in three study abroad trips with students from my department. I have attended two as a faculty chaperone. I will serve as the director for the third in March 2017, as I accompany 33 students to Spain as part of a cultural immersion experience. Anecdotally, I believe that the students on the first two trips I was part of learned a great deal, developing an enhanced intrapersonal awareness as part of the travel process. As these were simply observations, I wanted to develop a study to investigate the outcomes of this experience for students. I have a bit of data to report, relative to internal/external learning outcomes already…and we haven’t even traveled yet!

A bit about this program to understand my context for study: Students attending this trip are all speech-language pathology majors from my university (two are graduate students, 31 are undergrads). Three-quarters of students had been out of the country before. This is a short-term, faculty-led trip which will take us to Spain for 10 days over my institution’s spring break. We plan to visit five cities and engage in a “day with a speech-language pathologist” practicing in Spain to learn about professional practices abroad. Students will earn three academic credits towards an independent study for participating in pre-travel meetings, travel activities, personal reflection, goal setting activities, and one post-travel meeting.

During our first pre-travel meeting, students were asked to list five things that they hoped to learn as a result of their study abroad experience. Results were as follows (categories where more than 5 students reported similar outcomes are reported):

External Learning Expectations (N=36) Internal Learning Expectations (N=52)
Learn about Spanish culture (n=14)

Become more knowledgeable about Spanish landmarks and history (n=6)

Speak Spanish with greater confidence (n=5)

Learn about speech-pathology practices in Spain (n=5)

Change my own self-perspective (n=10)

Be present (e.g., put my phone down; n=10)

Develop greater independence (n=9)

Take chances outside my comfort zone (n=9)

Develop an adventurous spirit (n=7)

 

Additionally, I asked each student to set a three personal goals that they would work towards before and during their study abroad experience. I provided no requirements as to what areas these goals needed to address, rather I asked students to focus on aspects of their own lives that growth would be impactful in their goal setting. A total of 99 goals were submitted. Of these, 19 of the students’ goals focused on external learning outcomes (primarily cultural learning and empathy) while 80 were focused on internal learning outcomes (broadly critical self-examination and mindset). Happily these more internally-focused goals were consistent with work my colleague Erin Mikulec and I have been doing in terms of defining “knowledge of self” as a result of out-of-class learning, which will potentially add additional layers of richness to our separate, but ongoing work (Friberg & Mikulec, 2016).

So, while there is the least amount of information in extant SoTL literature on internal learning, my students have shown a clear indication that expected internal learning outcomes are most predominant in their minds, pre-travel. During our trip, students will journal regarding growth towards achieving their goals and have been asked to submit at least one photo per goal, showing (from their own perspective) growth in their areas of focus. I am beyond curious to see how my students will represent their learning visually. Analysis of their reflective journals, final goal progress reports, and other qualitative data will – hopefully – yield interesting outcomes to grow the evidence-base for study abroad. Stay tuned!

Are you in the process of studying outcomes from study abroad? Please share in the comments below!

Blog References:

Friberg, J. C. & Mikulec, E. (2016). Developing a taxonomy to measure out-of-class learning. Paper presented at the annual meeting of the International Society for the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning, Los Angeles, CA.

Miller-Perrin, C. & Thompson, D. (2014). Outcomes of global education: External and internal change associated with study abroad. New Directions for Student Services, 146, 77-89.