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This paper explores the expectations and experiences of faculty, academic advisors, and graduate students leading a study abroad experience for first-year engineering students. In the current age of globalization, engineering students require a global understanding of engineering to be competent in the global workforce. In response, undergraduate engineering programs have created various programs to fill this student need. The research surrounding these initiatives focuses on the student experience but is limited when describing that of program leaders. This qualitative study draws from track leader journals that were completed during and shortly after the international program as well as semi-structured interviews in the following semester. The findings suggest that the majority of leaders expected their role to be that of an educator on the study abroad experience, but upon reflection, realized that their definition of what it means to be an educator expanded to encompass facilitation of learning. Many of the student learning instances leaders pointed to had to do with facilitating a learning environment rather than delivering content or answering technical questions. The roles described by leaders varied from troubleshooter to behavioral manager to informer. Leaders reflected that their roles developed as they met students where they were in their learning within the dynamic international context of the program. Overall, leaders saw their roles evolve over the course of the trip. The findings shed light on emergent power dynamics that leadership teams engage in outside of the formal learning environment and provide a unique insight into the types of learning program leaders can experience through leading study abroad programs. The multiple forms of data collection provide deeper insights into the experiences of the leaders while encouraging them to also reflect in real-time. This study has implications for the development of intentionally designed, condensed study-abroad experiences that draws from understanding the program leaders’ experience.

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.