Student Perspectives on a Short-Term Study Abroad Experience

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Scott Roy Douglas, University of British Columbia, Okanagan Campus

Research that uncovers Japanese undergraduate student perspectives in connection to the short-term study abroad experience can provide valuable insights for educational program developers. The current study focused on what Japanese university students visiting Canada on a short-term study abroad program felt were the ideal elements of this kind of educational experience. Data were collected from participants at four points before and during the experience. Qualitative data analysis methods were used to identify the most prominent themes. Findings pointed to meaningful intercultural encounters, rich content-focused classroom experiences, and varied extra-curricular activities as being the key elements of an effective program. However, program developers should be mindful that intercultural encounters may not occur naturally, and extra-curricular activities might not happen spontaneously. Creating an ideal short-term study abroad program involves finding ways to encourage organic intercultural encounters and providing unique and engaging activities outside of the classroom.