Effects of a study tour on the cultural immersion experience of adult learners: A qualitative study
Experiential opportunities that incorporate affective and reflective components of learning have been identified as important in the multicultural training of psychologists, counselors and teachers. Immersion experiences that include interacting with diverse racial and cultural individuals/groups are one type of experiential learning opportunity that has been effective in heightening knowledge and awareness aspects of an individual's personal and professional growth. Study tours are offered as a viable way to combine education and culture within an abbreviated time frame, meeting the continuing educational needs of adult learners/professionals. This study qualitatively explored the experiences of seven adult learners working or studying in the fields of education and counseling and who participated in a study tour to South Africa.
This educational study tour, offered through a graduate school of education, focused on adults who were interested in a cultural immersion experience that involved studying the social and educational systems of South Africa post-apartheid. Each participant in the study completed a life story interview and a post-tour questionnaire to assess the impact of the study tour on their personal development. Key research questions included: What are the stories of culture among professional adult learners and what role do these stories have in their life and work? How will study tour experiences be incorporated into the present and future life story of each adult learner (if at all)? Study tours were also assessed as to their role in multicultural training and education.
Through field observations, participants' journals, interviews, and a cross-cultural attitude measure, the study tour was identified to be a positive and important experience in participants' learning of another culture and of themselves. Further, because adults bring with them life and professional experiences, several of the participants expressed intentions to integrate what they learned on the study tour into their teaching curriculum or serving people in their role as a counselor. Further, through exchanges made with educators in South Africa, the study tour enhanced opportunities to internationalize disciplines such as psychology and education, by creating networks for research ideas and collegial exchanges. Thus study tours were identified as another training tool for enhancing multicultural learning.
0516: Adult education
0516: Continuing education
0282: Bilingual education
0282: Multicultural education
0451: Social psychology