Academic journal article Academy of Educational Leadership Journal

Enhancing Learning Outcomes with a Study Abroad Experience at a Mexican University

Academic journal article Academy of Educational Leadership Journal

Enhancing Learning Outcomes with a Study Abroad Experience at a Mexican University

Article excerpt

INTRODUCTION

Looking at course development and delivery in a university curriculum suggests an opportunity to enhance the competitive position of the university by offering a study- abroad experience. A casual perusal of the table of contents of finance text books shows that internationalization is in the same place that it's been for several decades--at the end of the book under Special Topics, making it easy to throw away and to rely on students getting internationalized in other courses. Text books in other specializations such as marketing and human resource management appear to have the same organization.

Consider, for example, offerings of finance courses in a business curriculum. The typical placement of international material at the end of a text book flies in the face of the academic trend toward integrating international issues throughout the curriculum. Hira (2003) notes the ways education is fast becoming a global business, following the trends of other industries. This expanding global business has engendered several different models for delivering course content internationally. Irrespective of the model, the nature of the new global business and availability of course content on the web make almost any model which includes an international emphasis a competitor to traditional universities (Hanna, 1998).

Although evidence suggests (Wilson, 2001) that cultural discontinuities affect learning effectiveness, this paper takes as its starting point the model that a cross-cultural course in finance is developed and offered successfully within the framework of the traditional university setting. The authors have learned from experience that the learning and teaching enrichment associated with such a course overwhelms the difficult issues surrounding a study-abroad, webbased course delivery.

Bates and Escamilla de los Santos (1997) note that a schism exits between the potential of web-based learning and practical results. They note that for the reality to meet expectations, the course must have well-developed information technology infrastructures, to develop curricula that transcend local cultural and language barriers, and to provide high quality instructor-learner support services. They lament (1997, p. 1) that ". . .there are few, if any, guidelines or precedents to follow." Judd et. al. (2009) note the usefulness of supplementing web-based teaching with video links to improve student outcomes.

A course taught internationally offers benefits to students and faculty. Feinberg and Vinaja (2002) found that two motivators drive faculty to participate in multicultural international courses: personal and professional satisfaction/enjoyment and a desire to keep up with technology. Anecdotal evidence supports their empirical results. We have noted that faculty participating in such a course learn the policies and procedures associated with foreign programs and thereby enhance their ability to work with foreign professionals and staff. Learning to work with foreign partners is necessary in a world in which political borders have been compressed in both time and distance, challenging the global university. Although often painful, learning to work in different cultures expands the faculty member's personal, social, and professional horizons.

Students in this type of course benefit for many or the same reasons as the instructor does. However, students are receiving the benefits at the start of their careers, and so should be able to take greater advantage over their working lives.

This paper addresses a way to redress the deficiency of internationalization of the curriculum by developing the logistics and delivery of a collaborative finance course jointly offered at U.S. and Mexican campuses. The reader will see that the development requires financial and emotional commitment by several parties and requires about a year from inception to offering the course. …

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