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A group of 15 IUSB students began their study abroad experience after arriving in Mexico City last week along with prof. Vanderveen and prof. Davis. Above is the group photo taken in the indigenous site of the world’s largest pyramid (in terms of volume) in Cholula, Mexico. Later in the week, the group visited la Casa hogar hijos de la luna with Piñatas and tres leche cake. Recently, the group spent half the day in Monte Alban learning about the Precolombian archaeological site. If you are interested in knowing more of the 2014 Oaxaca study abroad program, follow our group on Facebook! ¡Oaxaca 2014!

Summer Session I Trip to Berlin and Prague: Histories of Both Cities

Panoramic photo of Prague from the Pražský hrad ‘Prague Castle’ gardens

Self-taken panoramic photo of Prague from the Pražský hrad ‘Prague Castle’ gardens

I can safely say that this short whirlwind of a study abroad trip was the most fulfilling and adventuresome experience I have had in my life thus far. If I had one word to describe my trip it would be this: magical. Prague and Berlin have momentously different histories and I was unable to overlook the juxtaposition in how both cities showcase their pasts and presents. Prague and Berlin showed me one main theme that I will never be able to forget: the way they embrace or ignore their history. It begs the question: What are these cities proud or ashamed of?

Prague has a nearly 1,000-year-old, rich history, and you are surrounded by this reminder of the past as you walk down the cobble stone streets and gaze up at the Gothic architecture. Prague is a city that screams, “Look, there’s history here! And here!” The two sites in Prague that help to explore the answer to this question are St. Vitus Cathedral and the Jewish quarter. St. Vitus Cathedral has been a central monument in Prague since the early 1300’s and its Gothic architecture and grandeur are something that Prague is most certainly proud to display. However, the Jewish quarter has a much different historical feel. In the Jewish quarter, you can see the revered Old Synagogue and the magnificent and morbid Jewish cemetery with its layers and rows of Hebrew inscribed tombstones. Alternatively, the strange aspect of the Jewish quarter is that it now has been turned into a swanky, upper-class shopping district for the wealthy tourists of Prague. To me, the Jewish quarter is the most glaring evidence of the Czech people not being so proud of their history.

In comparison with Prague, Berlin has a much different historical feel. Berlin is not nearly as old as Prague and has had a much more recently tumultuous past of destruction and subsequent reconstruction. Two sites are literally feet away from each other and could not be more polar opposite in remembrance: The Holocaust Memorial and Adolf Hitler’s underground bunker where he committed suicide. The Holocaust Memorial is located right in the heart of Postdamer Platz and next to the Brandenburg Gate. This site for the murdered Jews of Europe is impossible to ignore and I believe that is a reflection of German memory and willingness to look at their terrifying past with World War II and the Holocaust and learn from it. Nonetheless, Hitler’s underground bunker is mere feet away from the Holocaust Memorial and is barely given a mention other than one short informative plaque. Clearly, this speaks to Germany’s willingness to accept and confront the two driving forces behind their guilt surrounding their most recently (in)famous history.

At the end of my travels, it is still hard to reflect on and remember all of what I had seen and experienced. Additionally, I know that both Berlin and Prague have aspects of their history that they are either not ready to fully confront or have immense pride in being able to remember and learn from. These magical cities will forever hold a place in my heart.

Study Abroad: Holistic Learning

My last two posts, What is High Impact Learning? and Study Abroad: A High Impact Educational Practice, explored and elaborated on the research presented by International Programs Chair Dr. Lisa Zwicker, intern Brigitta Szocs, and me at the 2014 Midwest Scholarship of Teaching and Learning (SoTL) Conference this past April. This final post on the subject will explore how study abroad benefits students holistically. I will briefly demonstrate how study abroad as high impact education incorporates student engagement, which encompasses intentional strategies to develop intercultural relations. Holistic student development and engagement, as described by Braskamp, Braskamp, and Merrill (2009), includes cognitive, interpersonal, and intrapersonal developmental objectives which can be used to explore how holistic learning relates to study abroad and high impact learning.

Study abroad fosters cognitive development such as cultural knowledge and global awareness. It accomplishes this through engagement and interaction, as students studying abroad are encouraged to collaborate with peers, professors, and the people from their host country. Study abroad also encourages engagement as students are immersed in a new environment and culture. It is not unusual for students to become less engaged as their surroundings become increasing familiar, but study abroad participants must have higher engagement with their surroundings and people when in an unfamiliar place or culture. Study abroad programs allow students to experience diversity and internationalize their education, incorporating and integrating international perspectives, while expanding students’ minds and helping them appreciate not only foreign culture, but also American culture and how it fits into the world.

Mexico 2012

IU South Bend students in Mexico, 2012

Study abroad also promotes students’ intrapersonal development. Study abroad leads to more integrative and reflective personal exploration. It requires some personal reflection as typical participants learn to evaluate elements of their own culture in an unbiased manner, allowing multicultural interactions in other settings to become more natural. Additionally, study abroad leads to more social awareness, allowing participants to understand themselves and their culture better. Participants in study abroad programs typically have higher self-confidence, as they learn to interact with people who are both similar and dissimilar as human beings with emotions and desires. These interactions make study abroad participants feel more mature as they learn to properly interact with a differing culture. This is what Van Hoof and Verbeeten (2005) mean when they state that study abroad participants typically learn to evaluate elements of their own culture in an unbiased manner, allowing multicultural interactions in other settings to become more natural.1 Because of these diverse interactions and growing global awareness, study abroad participants will also understand their own values more clearly.

Costa Rica 2012

IU South Bend students in Costa Rica, 2012

Finally, study abroad is interpersonal as most participants are positively impacted as they learn and create skills and behaviors. As already mentioned, numerous studies have concluded that study abroad positively impacts engagement and learning upon return. Study abroad leads to higher cumulative GPAs, student participation, and retention. Furthermore, as Elizabeth Redden reports, minority participation significantly increases retention and graduation rates.2 All of these benefits are linked to both high impact practices and study abroad. Therefore, study abroad should be considered a high impact practice.

As one can see, these three developmental objectives are clearly intertwined with student development. Consequently, like other high impact practices, study abroad develops the whole person and helps students become more engaged and successful. I would argue that study abroad may be the best high learning practice because of all the other benefits that I have mentioned in other blog posts, such as increased job marketability due to an internationalized education.

1 Van Hoof, H. B., & Verbeeten, M. J. (2005). Wine is for drinking, water is for washing: Student opinions about international exchange programs. Journal of Studies in International Education 9, 42-61

2 See the Glossari website [Georgia learning outcomes of students studying abroad research initiative] http://glossari.uga.edu This study is also described in Elizabeth Redden, “Academic Outcomes of Study Abroad,” Inside Higher Ed (July 13, 2010) http://www.insidehighered.com/news/2010/07/13/abroad

 

 

Study Abroad: A High Impact Educational Practice

As I discussed in my last post, What is High Impact Learning?, this April, IU South Bend Bend’s International Programs Chair, Dr. Lisa Zwicker, intern Brigitta Szocs, and I presented our research on studying abroad at the 2014 Midwest Scholarship of Teaching and Learning (SoTL) Conference. This is my second post in a three-post series reflecting and elaborating on that research.

I ended my last blog with a question: is study abroad a high impact educational practice? Today I will briefly discuss why study abroad is a high impact practice by briefing looking at elements associated with high impact learning and how they correlate with study abroad. It is commonly accepted that high impact practices involve interaction, engagement, and personal reflection. According to Braskamp, Braskamp, and Merrill, (2009), “[E]ducation abroad has become an increasingly important educational program (experience) in global learning and development, intercultural competence, intercultural maturity, and intercultural sensitivity of students” (101). Furthermore, study abroad is interactive as students collaborate with peers, professors, and the people from their host country. Study abroad also encourages engagement as students are immersed in a new environment and culture. Study abroad requires some personal reflection as typical participants learn to evaluate elements of their own culture in an unbiased manner, allowing multicultural interactions in other settings to become more natural.

IU South Bend students at the Berlin

IU South Bend students at the Berlin Reichstag

According to George D. Kuh, when high impact education practices are implemented in a university, students perform better, respect cultural differences and diversity, graduate quicker and with higher GPA’s, and maybe most importantly, become better world citizens. At least in theory, all high impact practices accomplish this lofty goal. However, I contend that study abroad will accomplish this objective quicker than any of the other practices as it typically combines numerous high impact practices simultaneously. If it is accepted as often written, that most Americans have a limited worldview, study abroad programs allow students to experience diversity and internationalize their education while expanding student’s minds and helping them appreciate not only foreign culture, but also American culture and how it fits into the world.

Over the last couple of years, numerous studies have concluded that study abroad positively impacts engagement and even learning upon return to the States. Study abroad leads to more integrative, reflective, and personal exploration, allowing one to find oneself. Van Hoof and Verbeeten (2005) state that study abroad participants typically learn to evaluate elements of their own culture in an unbiased manner, allowing multicultural interactions in other settings to become more natural.1 Additionally, study abroad leads to increased social awareness, helping participants better understand themselves and their culture. Participants in study abroad programs typically have higher self-confidence, feel more mature, and understand their own values more clearly. Study Abroad leads to higher accumulative GPA, student participation, and retention. Furthermore, as Elizabeth Redden of Columbia University reports, minority participation significantly increases retention and graduation rates.2 All of these benefits are linked to both high impact practices and study abroad. Therefore, study abroad should be considered a high impact practice.

1 Van Hoof, H. B., & Verbeeten, M. J. (2005). Wine is for drinking, water is for washing: Student opinions about international exchange programs. Journal of Studies in International Education 9, 42-61

2 See the Glossari website [Georgia learning outcomes of students studying abroad research initiative] http://glossari.uga.edu This study is also described in Elizabeth Redden, “Academic Outcomes of Study Abroad,” Inside Higher Ed (July 13, 2010) http://www.insidehighered.com/news/2010/07/13/abroad

 

 

What is High Impact Learning?

This April, IU South Bend Bend’s International Programs Chair, Dr. Lisa Zwicker, intern Brigitta Szocs, and I participated in the 2014 Midwest Scholarship of Teaching and Learning (SoTL) Conference. During the conference we briefly discussed how our research showed that study abroad is a high impact educational practice and presented some of the findings. Upon reflection, I felt that some of my research could and should be discussed further. I decided to write a three blog post series of my reflections on the material that I presented at the Midwest SoTL Conference, including more detailed information and clarifications.

This is the first blog post in the series, What is High Impact Learning?

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High impact learning occurs when students actively engage in the learning process and utilize their knowledge in their personal and professional lives. Former IU Chancellor’s Professor Emeritus George D. Kuh defines high impact educational practices as “an investment of time and energy over an extended period that has unusually positive effects on student engagement in educationally purposeful behavior.”1 Typically, students who participate in high impact practices are more focused learners, have higher information retention rates, and finish their degrees quicker with a higher GPA. One of the benefits of high impact learning is the collaborative effort where students are actively engaged in a community of peers, applying new knowledge with real-life application. The Association of American Colleges and Universities, utilizing the work of Kuh, outlines several educational experiences that can be employed as high impact educational practice:

  • First-year Seminars and Experiences
  • Common intellectual experiences
  • Learning communities
  • Writing-intensive courses
  • Collaborative assignments and projects
  • Undergraduate research
  • Service and Community-based learning
  • Internships
  • Capstone courses and projects
  • Diversity/global learning

According to Kuh, there are six common elements that, when employed to the educational practices above, will make them high impact education practices:

  • Requires effort – Considerable effort must be expended by the student to invest in the activity and their academic program.
  • Requires building of substantive interactions – Students must actively interact with faculty and peers about substantive matters over an extended period of time fostering a pupil/mentor relationship.
  • Requires engagement across differences – Students interact with people outside their immediate peers, including people with different economic, religious, and numerous other backgrounds.
  • Requires strong and frequent feedback – Frequent and constructive feedback by peers and mentors. “Good job!” is not enough, students need explanations for what they are doing right just as much as what they are doing wrong.
  • Requires students to both test and apply what they are learning in new situations – Students learn to integrate and synthesize knowledge across the curriculum and understand their connections.
  • Provides opportunity for personal reflection – One of the most important elements, but often overlooked. According to Kuh, personal reflection expands learning and “bring one’s values and beliefs into awareness” and allows students to “measure of events and actions and put them in perspective.” Consequently, “[S]tudents better understand themselves in relation to others and the larger world, and they acquire the intellectual tools and ethical grounding to act with confidence for the betterment of the human condition.”2

Thus, when high impact educational practices are implemented in a university, students perform better, respect cultural differences and diversity, graduate quicker and with higher GPA’s, and maybe most importantly, they become better world citizens. So with this in mind, is study abroad a high impact educational practice? I’ll answer that question in my post next week.

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1 George D. Kuh, “Foreword,” Five High-Impact Practices:  Research on Learning Outcomes, Completion, and Quality by Jayne E. Brownell and Lynn E. Swaner, AAC&U, 2010.

2 Thomas F. Nelson Laird, Daniel Chen, George D. Kuh,”Classroom Practices at Institutions With Higher-Than-Expected Persistence Rates: What Student Engagement Data Tell Us” New Directions For Teaching & Learning 2008.115 (2008): 85-99, 96.

The Foreign Local

In mid-May, blog contributor Staci Barke traveled to Tokyo, Japan to do independent research for two months. She’s been posting updates on her blog, The Foreign Local. We’ll be cross-posting her posts here for our reader’s information and enjoyment!

Here’s her first installment, from May 17:

I have always been a last minute traveler. The night before I moved to Korea was when I began to pack. And I packed the morning I left for Germany. Traveling is in my blood, it has always been a passion of mine. The first time I traveled abroad was one month after I turned 15. This was to travel around Japan for 3 weeks with my Japanese teacher and upperclassmen; I was the youngest allowed to go. The next time was 2 years ago in February of 2012 when I moved to South Korea to become an English teacher. This happened on a whim when my boss asked me one morning if I would like to teach in Korea, of course I said yes and 2 months later I was on an airplane. While in Korea I went to Osaka, Japan for a weekend. The following year I was looking at airline tickets to Germany for no apparent reason one night. I found tickets for 50% off! Of course I bought them. And now, summer of 2014, I am back to my first love: Japan. I will be staying here for 2 months to do research on the old districts of Tokyo and the globalization effects the Skytree, the recently built broadcasting tower, has on these areas.

TOKYO-SKYTREE-credit-to-(c)

Skytree Tower, Tokyo

When I travel, I try to break down the language and culture barriers. I take the backroads, go where the locals go, and avoid other foreigners. I immerse myself in the language and culture of the country I am in. Because of this, I get accepted into the communities I stay in. This is how I came up with the name for this blog. I want to share my experiences with everyone, which is the reason for this blog. Follow me on my adventures around the world! Hopefully you, too, will be bitten by the travel bug.

History Professor Monica Tetzlaff from Germany….

As the child of immigrants from Germany and Hungary, I am fortunate to be bilingual — a heritage German speaker. This May and June I have embarked on a trip to Germany, Austria and Hungary, with my spouse, Brad Laird, and my 5-year-old daughter, Hannah Laird. It has been truly heart-warming seeing relatives that my parents loved and remembering my visits to Germany and Hungary with my parents in 1979 and grandparents in 1973. Tante Panni and Onkel Joszi have long been connected to me. They are my mother’s uncle and aunt, though they are only a few years older than she would have been. They used to live in Budapest, but now have retired in southern Germany where other relatives live as well. We visited them every day of our stay (May 31-June 5, 2014) for either coffee in the afternoon or dinner or both. Hannah fell in love with them and their daughter and niece and we spent a sweet five days in Bietigheim-Bissingen, a small town near Stuttgart. There is an industrial area just down the street from where they live, but it is quiet and the birds chirp all the time. Nearby is the town of Ludwigsburg, which features a beautiful palace and baroque gardens. We also visited the “Maerchen Garten,” a fairy tale garden with 30 traditional German fairy tale settings, such as Rapunzel’s braid falling from a tower when one shouts, “Lass Dein Zopf Runter!” (Let down your braid!). Traveling in Germany with a 5 year old has meant visits to playgrounds rather than museums, but we have met many more Germans and their children personally as a result. Fortunately, Hannah is able to sit in outdoor café’s with us and eat ice cream, while we drink coffee. Most of all, she enjoys meeting the relatives, helping them set the table, etc. I’m glad to be able to pass on my cultural heritage to her and to share it with Brad.