Date of Award

Fall 2020

Document Type

Master's Project

Degree Name

Master of Science in Education (MSEd)


Educ Foundations & Leadership


Educational Leadership -- Higher Education

Committee Director

Chris R. Glass

Committee Member

Laura Smithers


The study abroad experience for many students is ineffable by nature. Teasing this apart and understanding how to maximize student learning abroad can lead to more enriched and potentially transformative experiences. There is little training offered to faculty and administrators at most American institutions about how to integrate study abroad learning into the wider higher education curriculum before, during, and after a global experience. By utilizing transformative learning theory (TLT) and experiential learning theory (ELT), this thesis provides a space for thought to conceptualize study abroad as a fully integrated part of the college curriculum that enhances the learner experience and the journey towards fulfilling the vision of a liberal education. TLT consists of a ten-phase process that is enhanced by critical reflection and intentional scaffolding to support the engaged learner. ELT suggests a multi-mode cyclical structure to learning through experience that can be deepened over time. The two theories complement one another well when the educator understands both and realizes how pairing TLT with ELT can maximize the power of experience. There is a particular focus on understanding the learner experience and how educators can best facilitate learning. Finally, suggestions are presented for integrating TLT and ELT into practice within tertiary-level study abroad.