Transformative Learning and Inclusion in a Global Social Work Course

  • Joan Pittman University of Maryland, School of Social Work
  • Deborah Gioia University of Maryland, School of Social Work
Keywords: Transformative, global education, diversity, inclusion, interprofessional

Abstract

As there are many types of global learning experiences for students, understanding best practices is critical in resource allocation and developing competencies. Additionally, diversifying global education is essential in addressing unequal student access and improving cross-cultural competence. This paper describes a short-term international course with graduate students from social work, public health, and nursing. Nine students participated in semi-structured interviews about the impact of the course on their lives. Transformative learning theory emerged as an important pedagogical guide as students described transformations in lifestyle and perspectives that developed through experiential learning. Recommendations for improving learning and increasing cultural and interprofessional learning include having guided group discussions on critical incidents, using a critical reflection process focused on cultural assumptions, and focusing on the psychological, convictional, and behavioral dimensions of learning. Traditionally underrepresented students described barriers related to international study, further emphasizing the importance of encouraging underrepresented students to pursue global opportunities through mentoring, targeted marketing, and making international experiences affordable and logistically feasible. Inclusion of students from different backgrounds in international courses is not only important in promoting social justice, but also enhances cross-cultural skill development and learning.

Author Biography

Deborah Gioia, University of Maryland, School of Social Work

Associate Professor

References

Acquaye, L., & Crewe, S. (2012). International programs: Advancing human rights and social justice for African American students. Journal of Social Work Education, 48(4), 763-784. doi: https://doi.org/10.5175/jswe.2012.201100130

Alfred, M., Cherrstrom, C., Robinson, P., & Friday, A. (2012). Transformative learning theory. In J. B. Irby (Ed.), The handbook of educational theories (pp. 133-145). Charlotte, N.C: Information Age Pub.

Askeland, G., & Fook, J. (2009). Critical reflection in social work. European Journal of Social Work, 12, 287-292. doi: https://doi.org/10.1080/13691450903100851

Bell, K., & Anscombe, A. (2013). International field experiences in social work: Outcomes of a short-term study abroad programme to India. Social Work Education, 32(8), 1032-1047. doi: https://doi.org/10.1080/02615479.2012.730143

Brooks, J., & King, N. (2012, April). Qualitative psychology in the real world: The utility of template analysis. Paper presented at the British Psychological Society Annual Conference, London. Retrieved from http://eprints.hud.ac.uk/id/eprint/13656/1/Brooks__King_QMiP_2012_Final.pdf

Bruce, A. (2015, May 18). 7 ways to attract diverse students to study abroad. Chronicle of Higher Education. Retrieved from https://www.chronicle.com/article/7-Ways-to-Attract-Diverse/230149

Brux, J., & Fry, B. (2010). Multicultural students in study abroad: Their interests, their issues, and their constraints. Journal of Studies in International Education, 14(5), 508-527. doi: https://doi.org/10.1177/1028315309342486

Council on Social Work Education [CSWE]. (2015). Educational policy and accreditation standards. Retrieved from https://www.cswe.org/getattachment/Accreditation/Accreditation-Process/2015-EPAS/2015EPAS_Web_FINAL.pdf.aspx

Dorsett, P., Clark, J., & Phadke, S. (2017). India Gateway Program: Transformational learning opportunities in an international context. International Social Work, 60(4), 883-896. doi: https://doi.org/10.1177/0020872815580041

Gilin, B., & Young, T. (2009). Educational benefits of international experiential learning in an MSW program. International Social Work, 1, 36-47. doi: https://doi.org/10.1177/0020872808093347

Greenfield, E. A., Davis, R. T., & Fedor, J. P. (2012). The effect of international social work education: Study abroad versus on-campus courses. Journal of Social Work Education, 48(4), 739-761. doi: https://doi.org/10.5175/jswe.2012.201100147

Healy, L. (2008). International social work: Professional action in an interdependent world. Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press.

Hill, C. E. (2012). Consensual qualitative research: A practical resource for investigating social science phenomenon. Washington D.C.: APA.

Institute of International Education [IIE]. (2018). Open doors 2018 fast facts. Retrieved from https://www.iie.org/-/media/Files/Corporate/Open-Doors/Fast-Facts/Fast-Facts-2018.ashx?la=en&hash=E87E077CE69F84A65A9AA0B0960C2691E922835A

Kitchenham, A. (2008). The evolution of John Mezirow’s transformative learning theory. Journal of Transformative Education, 6(2), 104-123.

doi: https://doi.org/10.1177/1541344608322678

Mezirow, J. (1991). Transformative dimensions of adult learning. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

Mezirow, J. (2000). Learning as transformation: Critical perspectives on a theory in progress. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

Miles, M. B., Huberman, A. M., & Saldana, J. (2013). Qualitative data analysis: A methods sourcebook (3rd ed.). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.

NAFSA: Association of International Educators. (2018). Independent research measuring the impact of study abroad. Retrieved from http://www.nafsa.org/Policy_and_Advocacy/Policy_Resources/Policy_Trends_and_Data/Independent_Research_Measuring_the_Impact_of_Study_Abroad/

Nino, M., Cuevas, M., & Loya, M. (2011). Transformational effects of service-learning in a university developed community-based agency. Advances in Social Work, 12, 33-48.

Padgett, D. K. (2016). Qualitative methods in social work research (3rd ed.). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.

Roholt, R., & Fisher, C. (2013). Expect the unexpected: International short-term study courses pedagogies and practices. Journal of Social Work Education, 49, 48-65.

doi: https://doi.org/10.1080/10437797.2013.755416

Tarrant, M. A., Rubin, D. L., & Stoner, L. (2013). The added value of study abroad: Fostering a global citizenry. Journal of Studies in International Education, 18(2), 141-161. doi: https://doi.org/10.1177/1028315313497589

Trooboff, S., Vande Berg, M., & Rayman, J. (2008). Employer attitudes toward study abroad. Frontiers: The Interdisciplinary Journal of Study Abroad, 15, 17-33.

Walters, C., Charles, J., & Bingham, S. (2017). Impact of short-term study abroad experiences on transformative learning: A comparison of programs at 6 weeks. Journal of Transformative Education, 15(2), 103-121.

doi: https://doi.org/10.1177/1541344616670034

Wang, C., & Burris M. A. (1997). Photovoice: Concept, methodology and use for participatory needs assessment. Health, Education & Behavior, 24(3), 369-387.

doi: https://doi.org/10.1177/109019819702400309

Published
2020-03-25
Section
Articles