Gita Maharaja

Defense Date


Graduation Date



Immediate Access

Submission Type


Degree Name



Instructional Leadership Excellence (ILEAD)


School of Education

Committee Chair

Derek Whordley

Committee Member

Roberta Aronson

Committee Member

Jocelyn Gregoire

Committee Member

Gibbs Kanyongo


island study abroad, cross-cultural adaptability, intercultural competence, international education, intercultural sensitivity


Globalization touches every sphere of our modern lives, and it has become more critical than ever that today's generation gains an understanding of other cultures and develops the ability to adapt to ever-changing environments. One important way that higher education has attempted to prepare students for these challenges is to offer study abroad programs, in which students are given the opportunity for educational experiences in other countries.

Traditionally, study abroad programs have involved immersion in the host culture, with particular emphasis on using and learning the native language. However, other types of program designed to make the experience of living in another country less intense for students have become more popular in recent years. One of these, the so-called "island" study abroad program, provides students with little or no foreign language skill the opportunity to study, travel and live together in the host country, without the immersion that has been integral to other programs. While there is much anecdotal evidence that the island model programs have a positive effect on students, there exists a dearth of studies that have systematically and objectively assessed the impact of such programs on students' intercultural sensitivity and cross-cultural adaptability.

To be certain, there are important works that have measured the effects of study abroad on students' cultural growth, such as Hammer's Intercultural Development Inventory (IDI) (2007), based on Bennett's Developmental Model of Intercultural Sensitivity (DMIS) (1986, 1993), and Kelley and Meyer's Cross-Cultural Adaptability Skills Inventory (CCAI) (1995). By using the scales developed in these instruments, the present study has attempted to extend the research by examining more specifically the impact of a semester-long island study abroad program on the development of critical sensitivity and adaptability skills relating to other cultures.

Indeed, the findings indicate that the island model program has a positive impact on students, to the point that students who studied abroad exhibited a greater change in intercultural sensitivity and cross-cultural adaptability by the end of the semester than did students who remained at the home campus, and further, the results of this study have laid the groundwork for future research in this area.