Date of Award

2000

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Education

School

School of Education

Program

Educational Psychology, Ed.D.

First Advisor

Jimmy Kijai

Second Advisor

Elsie P. Jackson

Third Advisor

Jeffrey R. Breese

Abstract

Problem Statement. The purpose of this study is to describe the out-of-class experiences of 21 students who studied in the Saint Mary's College Ireland Program in Maynooth, Ireland, during the 1998-1999 academic year. It examines (1) how the program orientation influenced students' desire to become involved in out-of-class activities, (2) how out-of-class experiences fostered students' learning of the Irish culture, and (3) how the experiences influenced students' attitudes toward cultures other than their own.

Methodology. This study employed descriptive qualitative research. Focus groups were conducted to gather data used in developing questions for long interviews, and these long interviews were the focus of the study. Twenty-one of the 23 students who studied in Maynooth during the 1998-1999 academic year served as the population for the interviews.

Results. Results of this study suggest that students used ethnographic discovery methods as they learned about the Irish culture. As demonstrated through Spradley's means-end domain of semantic relationships, their roles as participant observers, interacting sojourners, and travelers afforded them opportunities to learn about the Irish culture.

Contact with former participants in the Ireland Program appeared to be the greatest incentive for students to become involved in out-of-class activities. Students reported that living, studying, and developing relationships with members of the host culture were ways in which they learned about the culture, and that both directed and serendipitous travel provided valuable, but different, ways of learning about Irish culture. Students believed that out-of-class experiences had a part in reducing their tendency to stereotype people, and increased their interest in other cultures. Many expected their behavior to change in accordance with these attitude changes.

Conclusions. Results suggest that (1) former Ireland Program students should be an integral part of orientation programs; (2) students should live and study with members of the host culture; (3) both directed and serendipitous travel should be built into a study-abroad program; and (4) re-entry programs should provide opportunities for implementation ofbehavioral changes.

Subject Area

Foreign study--Ireland

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