Communications Project

Document Type:Dissertation
Name:Earline Byrd Orndorff
Title:The Short-Term Study Travel Experience for Adult Professionals: A Phenomenological Study
Degree:Doctor of Education
Department:Adult Learning and Human Resource Development
Committee Chair: Marcie Boucouvalas
Committee Members:Harold S. Stubblefield
J. Douglas McAlister
Michael T. Lambur
Susan E. Short
Keywords:intercultural education, self-esteem
Date of defense:June 11, 1998
Availability:Release the entire work for Virginia Tech access only.
After one year release worldwide only with written permission of the student and the advisory committee chair.


International education and cross-cultural learning are achieved through study travel. This phenomenologial study was designed to better illuminate the short-term studytravel experience for adult professionals, describing the phenomenon from the perspective of the participants and itsmeaning for those participants. The focus of the study was the Rotary International Group Study Exchange (GSE) Program,designed to provide participants with the opportunity to develop international understanding, cultural awareness, and professional competencies in a global setting. Co-researchers for the study were selected GSE team members from Rotary District 7570 in Virginia and Tennessee, who participated in the program since 1991. The methodology, based on the descriptive phenomenologicalmodel of Barritt, Beekman, Bleeker and Mulderji (1983) included guided, but loosely structured in-depth individualinterviews with eight co-researchers. Data were analyzed to determine emerging themes, element statements, and variations.Interviewees were asked to examine their individual descriptions to assure that their intended meanings were captured. Adescription of the experience and its meaning was developed from all of the themes which emerged. A final conference call for the interviewees was convened to review the megathemes. Questions guiding the inquiry were: What was the short-term study abroad experience like for these adult professionals and what meaning did the experience have for these participants? The following conclusions were drawn from the finding of the study: 1. The Group Study Exchange participants perceived that they developed a greater sense of who they were. 2. Short-term travel was perceived as a valuable and life-changing experience for the participants. 3. Stress, identified as an element of the short-term study travel as experienced by every participant on some level, was caused by family situations, homestays, language, and cultural difference. 4. Total immersion in the culture was seen as a factor which increased the participant's ability to understand and appreciate another culture on an intimate level, leading to deeper meaning and greater insight. This study confirmed previous studies related to sojourning and international travel as related to experiential learning, increasing the understanding of the short-term travel abroad experience and its meaning to the adult learner.

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