Impact of short-term study abroad experiences on transformative learning: A comparison of programs at 6 weeks

Colleen Walters, Jennell Charles, Sue Bingham

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

35 Scopus citations


In recent years, there has been a rapid rise in the number of universities offering students opportunities to study abroad. Traditional semester-long programs have been shortened with many new programs ranging anywhere from 1 to 8 weeks in length. The increased number of short-term programs has enabled professional degree programs, such as nursing, to increase student participation in these programs. These changes are supported by growing evidence of the impact of these programs on student learning, personal and professional development, and understanding of self as a global citizen. Utilizing Mezirow’s transformative learning theory to conceptualize critical reflection, this quantitative study examined the impact of six short-term study abroad programs on critical reflection as a core element of transformative learning. A modified version of the Reflection Questionnaire developed by Kember et al. was completed by 20 participants at 6 weeks following the completion of the study abroad experience. Participants were largely female (90%) and minority students (75%). The results showed that mean critical reflection scores across programs were moderately high (3.84/5.00). Nursing students who went to Haiti scored highest on critical reflection (4.70/5.00) compared to students in the other five programs. Reflective journaling and participation in service learning activities were linked to the highest critical reflection scores. Short-term study abroad programs support transformative learning for students representing a minority population and those in professional and traditional degree programs.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)103-121
Number of pages19
JournalJournal of Transformative Education
Issue number2
StatePublished - Apr 2017
Externally publishedYes


  • Critical reflection
  • Experiential learning
  • Transformative education

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education


Dive into the research topics of 'Impact of short-term study abroad experiences on transformative learning: A comparison of programs at 6 weeks'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this