Date of Award

Spring 2020

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education (EdD)


Education Policy, Planning, and Administration

Committee Chairperson

Heather Schugar, PhD

Committee Member

Karen Dickinson, PhD

Committee Member

Pattricia Bell, EdD


A major effect of globalization is the decreasing importance of national borders in favor of international economic cooperation. However, many of the issues of the imperialist era of the 16th to the 20th centuries still linger including poverty and marginalized populations of people. A space in schools exists for programs that have an ability to engage students in critical thought through cultural empathy and also prepare students for the modern, interconnected world. When education policymakers attend too much to standardized testing, school curricula do not tend to have options for such critical and empathic education. Through opportunities such as Short-Term Study Abroad (STSA) programs, educators can help to develop intercultural competence among participants. In this dissertation, I investigated the relationship between participation in a 10-day secondary school STSA exchange program to Denmark, and student intercultural competence development. Using Mezirow’s (1997) Transformative Learning Theory as a theoretical framework, I utilized a mixed methods approach in order to measure changes in participants’ intercultural competence before and after participation the exchange. Through this study, I found that high school who participated in a carefully-structured secondary school STSA exchange program experienced significant development in their intercultural competence. Students who took part in this program had opportunities to process cultural differences in meaningful ways and engaged in critical thought through interventions such as journal reflections and group interviews. This dissertation offers several suggestions for implementing successful STSA programs at the high school level.