Date of Award

2016

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy in Clinical Psychology (PhD)

Department

Clinical Psychology

First Advisor/Committee Member

Lynette H. Bikos

Second Advisor/Committee Member

John Thoburn

Third Advisor/Committee Member

Ross Stewart

Abstract

International immersion learning experiences intend to increase students’ awareness and understanding of the world and other cultures. However, empirical support for global learning and psychosocial outcomes is mixed. Using hierarchical linear modeling, this study examined the longitudinal trajectories of a global learning outcome (international interests; AGLII; Musil, 2006) and a psychosocial outcome (psychological well-being; MHI; Veit & Ware, 1983) for students (N = 147; 87% female; 72% Caucasian) who participated in a short-term (13 to 62 days) global service learning immersion to one of 15 countries (Brazil, Cambodia, China, Dominican Republic, Guatemala, Haiti, India, Indonesia, Malawi, Russia, Rwanda, Thailand, Uganda, Ukraine, or Vietnam). Global service learning is a specific type of international immersion learning focused not on language acquisition, necessarily, but rather on integrating travel and community service. Additionally, this study focused on examining the moderating effects of sociocultural adaptation (SCAS; Ward & Kennedy, 1999) and cultural distance (estimated using the Gini coefficient, an economic measure of income inequality within a country; The World Bank Group, 2014) on outcome trajectories. Survey data was collected from participants at pre-departure and at 2 weeks, 6 weeks, 3 months, 6 months, 9 months, and 12 months after return. No significant longitudinal trajectory was indicated for international interests, while a significant cubic function was indicated for psychological well-being (β10 = -.376, p < .001; β20 = .062, p < .001; β30 = -.003, p = .002). For both outcomes, pre-departure scores significantly impacted intercept (AGLII, β03 = .564, p < .001; MHI, β01 = .527, p < .001). Sociocultural adaptation significantly moderated the curvilinear trajectory of psychological well-being (β11 = .074, p = .004; β21 = -.006, p = .007). Cultural distance had no significant impact on either outcome; the Gini coefficient may not be a sufficient indicator of cultural distance. Expected growth in global learning outcomes was not demonstrated by these findings; accurate measurement may have been an issue and should be a focus of future research. These findings support the wide-spread notion of re-entry friction; future research should aim to replicated these findings with other types of international immersion learning programs.

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