Learning in context in a short-term education abroad program

Open Access
Lalley, Kristine
Graduate Program:
Adult Education
Doctor of Education
Document Type:
Date of Defense:
October 17, 2008
Committee Members:
  • Ian E Baptiste, Dissertation Advisor/Co-Advisor
  • Ian E Baptiste, Committee Chair/Co-Chair
  • Fred Michael Schied, Committee Member
  • Richard Francis Devon, Committee Member
  • Renata S Engel, Committee Member
  • education abroad
  • study abroad
  • short-term study abroad
  • situated learning theory
  • qualitative study
  • learning in context
  • processes of learning
The purpose of this study is to describe learning that occurred among participants who engaged in a short-term education abroad program using a modified situated learning theoretical framework. In situated learning theory, experience becomes activity and takes on a dynamic relation to learning. For the study, I selected a specific case to examine one type of education abroad program that students can engage in, which was a short-term education abroad program where a group of nine students traveled as part of a course for one week. Methods of data collection for this qualitative study included direct participant observation, field notes, and in-depth interviews. I asked the participants to describe their experiences during their short-term education abroad program, and I analyzed their descriptions based on the four elements of context that I defined for the study in an education abroad program - activity, tools, situation, and community of learners. I examined how these elements of context related to learning for them. I applied this theoretical framework by looking at the ways in which participants described how they learned in their education abroad program. I also looked at the ways in which the descriptions of learning provided by the participants contribute to new ways of understanding learning in context in an education abroad program.