Study Abroad and the Boomerang Effect: The End is Only the Beginning
Date of this version
study abroad, intercultural development inventory, boomerang effect, outcomes assessment, gender differences, cross-cultural sensitivity
As research on the effectiveness of study abroad programs continues to evolve, we are beginning to see a gradual shift in focus from "Is study abroad effective?" to "What can we do to improve the quality of the study abroad experience?" The current study adds to the current literature by addressing a gap in the existing study abroad outcomes assessment literature by focusing on the question of whether the developmental benefits of study abroad endure over time. This study reaffirms the general finding that study abroad has an immediate positive impact on cross-cultural development when measured at the conclusion of the study abroad experience. However, this study also finds that students do not progress beyond the stage of minimization as measured by Bennett’s (1993) developmental model of intercultural sensitivity. In other words, most students returning from study abroad continue to have a mono-cultural view of the world. The research also finds evidence to support the proposition that students do a form of experience cross-cultural regression, or a boomerang effect, after returning home from their study abroad experience. The implications, opportunities and challenges, posed by these finding are then discussed.
Frontiers: The Interdisciplinary Journal of Study Abroad