Study Abroad: Goals, Knowledge Acquisition and Implications for Nursing Education in the New Millennium

Tuesday, July 12, 2011: 2:25 PM

Mary Lou Bond, PhD, RN, CNE, ANEF, FAAN1
Dolores Aguilar, MSN, RN1
Harriet Guerrero, BA2
Denise Cauble, BSN1
(1)College of Nursing, University of Texas at Arlington, Arlington, TX
(2)Language Department, Cemanahuac Educational Community, Cuernavaca, Mexico

Learning Objective 1: The learner will be able to: Describe how study abroad goals and experiences influence the acquisition of cultural learning.

Learning Objective 2: The learner will be able to: Articulate the potential translation of study abroad outcomes to the improvement of nursing practice in the new millenium

Purpose: This presentation will describe relationships between study abroad goals, knowledge acquisition and the implications for nursing education. Nursing educators as well as faculty in other disciplines, have long grappled with strategies for assisting students gain awarenes of other cultures in order to provide culturally sensitive care. Limited studies have linked the learner's goals for participating in study abroad to knowledge acquistion, personal adjustments encountered during study abroad and anticipated use of the immersion experience in their professional and personal lives.

Methods:   A descriptive design was used to answer the study questions. Study participants were enrolled in a study abroad experience for periods of 2 to 8 weeks.  The Study Abroad Goals Scale (Kitsantas) was used to determine motives for study abroad.  Cultural awareness was measured by the Cultural Awareness Survey (Rew); personal adjustment was measured using the Social Situations Instrument (Furnham & Bochner).  The Post Study Abroad Survey (Carpenter) was administered on completion of the immersion experience to determine how learners planned to use the knowledge gained during differing lengths of time. Data were analyzed using the Statistical Package for Social Sciences.  Descriptive statistics captured the characteristics of participants.

Results: Two hundred forty five participants ranging from college freshmen to professionals returned completed surveys.  Length of stay was the most predictive variable for language acquisition and increases in participants' cultural awareness.  Emergent themes from open ended questions included perceived understanding of the culture, the perceived ability to communicate better with Hispanic persons and planned use of language and knowledge in professional and personal situations.

Conclusion: Intense cultural immersion offers strong potential for the preparation of nursing students and practictioners for practice in the new millenium in an increasing multicultural society and  for the improvement of culturally sensitve care.