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Study abroad and global competence : exemplary community college programs which foster elements of achievement

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  • The research‘s purpose was to examine how exemplary community college study abroad programs assisted student participants in acquiring global competence. Three research questions were explored: 1.What issues need to be anticipated when planning a study abroad program for community college students in order to effectively incorporate opportunities for students to begin achieving global competence? 2. What characteristics of study abroad programs in community colleges strengthen opportunities for students to achieve global competence? 3. What mechanisms might be embedded in study abroad programs to enable assessment of program effectiveness in achieving global competence? The case study research design was based on interpretive social science philosophical approach. Five exemplary community college programs were selected through a Delphi process. The study used three major data sources: website documentation, program directors interviews, and online threaded discussions with recommended student participants. An exploration of global competence elements provided the research context and resulted in a proposed definition that incorporated components identified in the literature. Findings included agreement on the proposed definition, with the caveat that specifics of ―global competence‖ needed to reflect the country/culture. In research question one four themes were identified: (a) ―Enlightened Leadership,‖ (b) ―Continuous Program Improvement Planning,‖ (c) ―Static Presentation in Communication Channels,‖ and (d) ―Planning for Common Student Transitions.‖ Research question two revealed two themes: (a) ―Escaping the Bubble Effect,‖ and (b) ―Being There.‖ Research question three yielded three themes: (a) ―Continuous Improvement Planning,‖ (b) ―Multiple Paths to Assessment,‖ and (c) ―Awareness and Acknowledgement.‖ Across all data sources, three overarching themes were revealed: (a) ―Communication Disconnection,‖ (b) ―Opportunities—Providing, Perceiving, Taking Advantage,‖ and (c) ―Need for Multiple Assessment Mechanisms.‖ The implications for practice and national policy included cautions to avoid communication problems and include multiple and varied channels of communication. Another practice implication was the need for continual reassessment linked to planning. National policy implications included (a) supporting implementation mechanisms for the 2009 Simon Foundation Act, (b) establishing a nationally applied definition of global competence, (c) fostering enlightened institutional leadership, (d) developing a culture of institutional interest and support, and (e) establishing community college consortiums for program support in planning and assessment, and information sharing. Personal insights and application recommendations and future research avenues were suggested.
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