Not blogging, drinking: Peer learning, sociality and intercultural learning in study abroad

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© 2016, © The Author(s) 2016.Research into study abroad students’ intercultural learning has demonstrated a need to provide pedagogical support before, during and after the study abroad experience. This article reports on the authors’ efforts to support the in-country learning of Australian study abroad students through an online guided reflection exercise (blog) with a peer-learning component. Our findings suggest that exposing students to theories of intercultural learning prior to the study abroad experience opens them to the possibility of such learning occurring. However, the unanticipated discovery that the students’ most significant intercultural learning stemmed from the processes of social drinking rather than online interaction emphasizes that participation in an unfamiliar culture is an embodied and social experience, and suggests that concentration of pedagogical efforts in familiar and disembodied online spaces may disconnect students from the very experiences on which we wish them to reflect. We therefore recommend that instructors design opportunities for peer learning through embodied social interactions between outgoing and incoming study abroad students, framed by explicit discussion of concepts in intercultural learning. Such scaffolding is likely to be more sustainable in the current Australian fiscal environment than the intensive in-country instructor intervention that is common in the North American context.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)106-119
Number of pages14
JournalJournal of Research in International Education
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1 Aug 2016


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