Date of Conferral







Cheryl Keen


African American high school students are underrepresented in study abroad programs, and their lack of intercultural skills and international understanding can impede their personal and professional development, and limit their career opportunities. The purpose of this descriptive qualitative case study was to explore the influence of intercultural experiences through study abroad and immersion programs on African American high school students' intercultural competence. The conceptual framework drew on 2 theories: Bennett's development model of intercultural sensitivity and Kolb's experiential learning. Data from interviews and focus groups with 13 African American high school students, 2 parents, and 2 teachers as well as documents and field notes from a Northeast United States urban high school addressed the research questions pertaining to how students perceived travel abroad that fostered intercultural competence skills as well as how teachers and parents perceived students' personal development. Findings resulted from provisional codes used to identify pattern of codes, and central themes that indicated predeparture seminars and reflective practices enhanced intercultural skills. The portfolios suggested that most students became more reflective and accepting of cultural differences after their sojourn abroad. Recommendations based on the findings suggest increasing homestay experiences and planning and predeparture trainings. Future research is needed on how to attract more male African American students to such programs. The findings may contribute to positive social change by encouraging investment in homestay study abroad and immersion programs with adequate preparation and planning at inner city high schools that might foster intercultural competence skills.