Optimizing the education abroad learning of CUHK students through learner-centered, online support: From pre-sojourn to reentry

Principal Supervisor

Professor Jane Jackson, Department of English


2 years

Approved Budget

HK $200,000

  • Project Objectives
  • Key deliverables expected
  • Evaluation of deliverables/outcomes
  • Dissemination of deliverables/outcomes

Project Objectives

Drawing on the project supervisor’s investigations of the study abroad learning of Hong Kong/PRC students, this project aims to develop a fully online General Education course to support and enhance the intercultural learning of semester- or year-long exchange students while they are in the host environment. This credit-bearing course will be offered for the first time in the 2014-15 academic year. UGED 2184/ENGE 2180 Intercultural Communication and Engagement Abroad will build on: current understandings of effective online teaching, reviews of study abroad websites/online courses, project supervisor’s study abroad research and experience in teaching intercultural communication/transition courses. With Blackboard serving as the eLearning platform, activities and webpages will be designed to stimulate deep, critical reflection and meaningful intercultural interactions in the host environment. To measure intercultural learning, the Intercultural Development Inventory (IDI) will be administered before and after the course. With the permission of the participants, they will be interviewed before and after the course, and the questionnaire and qualitative data will be analyzed (e.g., Discussion Forum entries, fieldwork posts, reflective essays). The findings will be used to revise the second offering, which will take place in the first semester of the 2015-16 academic year. This project will be described in local, regional, and international publications and presentations, drawing attention to the merits of research-inspired, online interventions in education abroad learning. This initiative should help achieve the University’s internationalization aims and enable CUHK to retain the lead in education abroad programming in the region.

Key deliverables expected and timelines for completion

  • The design of a curriculum and the development of related materials for the fully online General Education course: UGED 2184/ENGE 2180 Intercultural communication and engagement abroad. (The course design was completed in August 2014; with ITSC support, the course Blackboard site was fully functional by September 2014)
  • The first offering of the online course to outgoing international exchange students while they are abroad. (22 students from various faculties participated in the first offering, which took place in the first semester of the 2014-15 academic year)
  • The evaluation of the first offering. (All of the data generated in the first offering has been uploaded into an NVivo database and the analysis of the data is underway and will be completed by June 2015. After developing full-group profiles, rich cases of individual participants will be developed. The findings will be presented in conferences (e.g., APAIE in March 2015) and publications, such as journal articles.)
  • The revision of the second offering, drawing on the lessons learned from the first offering. (The revision is underway; the second offering will take place in the first semester of the 2015-16 academic year. Like the first offering, it will be evaluated using similar procedures. This process will be ongoing throughout the semester.)
  • Recommendations will be made for subsequent offerings of the course as well as the pre-sojourn session for outgoing international exchange students. (Fall semester 2015-16 and beyond)
  • Arrangements for evaluation of project deliverables/outcomes

  • For each offering of the course, the Intercultural Development Inventory (IDI), a cross-culturally validated psychometric tool, will be administered to all course participants to provide a measure of their intercultural competence before and after the course. (For the first cohort, the IDI was administered in July 2014 and December 2014, and the post-course results were very encouraging. The IDI scores were compared with those of our outgoing international exchange students who receive no intervention; the course participants experienced significantly more gains in intercultural competence, suggesting that they benefited from the course.)
  • In addition to the processing of quantitative data gathered by way of survey questionnaires, with the permission of the course participants in the first offering, all of the qualitative data (e.g. responses to open-ended survey questions, reflective essays, Forum Discussion posts, fieldwork posts, interview transcripts) will be uploaded to an NVivo database and coded/analyzed after the course has ended. This process will be repeated in the second offering of the course.
  • In all offerings of the course, in addition to the official course evaluation form, the participants will complete a detailed, course-specific questionnaire to determine their perceptions of various elements in the course and offer suggestions for improvements. (The results of the offering were very favorable.)
  • Means for disseminating project deliverables/outcomes

  • The findings will be presented in local, regional, and international conferences (e.g., at the Asia-Pacific International Education (APAIE) conference in Beijing in March 2015, at the International Academy for Intercultural Research (IAIR) conference in Bergen, Norway in June 2015), and included in keynote addresses at the English, Discourse, and Intercultural communication conference in Macau in June 2015 and the international conference on ‘study abroad culture’ in Halifax, Canada in July 2015.)
  • The findings will be disseminated through publications / conference presentations. Each year, a poster/paper will be presented at CUHK’s Teaching and Learning Innovation EXPO.
  • Regional and international publications (e.g., journal articles in peer reviewed international journals, book chapters).