Title page for ETD etd-03232010-164719


Type of Document Dissertation
Author Schroth, Terri Lee
URN etd-03232010-164719
Title Student Perspectives on Study Abroad: The Case of Louisiana State University’s Summer Internships in the French Alps
Degree Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)
Department French Studies
Advisory Committee
Advisor Name Title
Egea-Kuehne, Denise Committee Co-Chair
Yeager, Jack Committee Co-Chair
Leupin, Alexandre Committee Member
Parker, Margaret Committee Member
Bridwell-Bowles, Lillian Dean's Representative
Keywords
  • short-term study abroad
  • language internships
  • second-language acquisition abroad
  • immersion programs
  • experiential learning
Date of Defense 2010-02-22
Availability unrestricted
Abstract
While many studies have been conducted on study abroad programs, few have sought to examine the inner workings of a short-term, non-traditional (non-classroom based) program, particularly from the participants’ point-of-view. This in-depth case study explores a short-term (4-week) cultural and linguistic internship program, “LSU in the French Alps,” as well as the perspectives of four program participants. This research was conducted during four phases of the study abroad experience: the pre-departure orientation (4 days on LSU’s main campus), the in-country stay (4 weeks in the French Alps), re-entry into the United States (first 10 days upon return), and post study (6 months after re-entry).

Extensive participant observation was essential to gaining an “emic,” or “insider,” view of the program, its surroundings and its participants. Data sources included individual interviews with participants, numerous questionnaires about their experiences, participants’ reflective papers and their final video project. The fieldwork conducted in this study uncovered details about the immigration history among the Ubaye Valley, parts of Mexico, and southern Louisiana. The development of this program abroad and its founding principles and goals were also unearthed.

Findings revealed that the lack of structure and organization of the pre-departure orientation left the participants anxious and unprepared for the program’s internships. The participants suggested ways to improve the pre-departure orientation and the program in general. They experienced minimal culture shock in France. However, some stress within the group was reported, as the participants grew frustrated with the constant interaction with one another. They perceived numerous benefits and positive effects from studying abroad, including in all areas of development which were investigated in the study (academic, personal, career, cultural and linguistic). Every participant believed the most substantial growth occurred in his or her cultural acquisition, followed by personal development. They also revealed what and how they learned from their experiences during the program’s internships and their outside-the-classroom contacts with host nationals and the French culture. The results have opened up new possibilities for inquiry into non-traditional programs and their connections to experiential learning.

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