Short of Transformation: American ADN Students’ Thoughts, Feelings, and Experiences of Studying Abroad in a Low-Income Country

Ruth Belknap, Marquette University
Cynthia Foronda, University of Miami

Published version. International Journal of Nursing Education Scholarship, Vol. 9, No. 1 (June, 2012): 1-16. Permalink. © 2012 Walter de Gruyter. Used with permission.


ADN students are a large yet distinct subgroup of nursing students who require research and understanding. The purpose of this study was to describe the thoughts, feelings, and experiences of American associate degree nursing (ADN) students who participated in a short study abroad course in a low-income country. A qualitative, narrative method was used. Three categories emerged from the analysis. Participants revealed thoughts of “constant comparisons”, feelings of an “emotional journey”, and they experienced “learning”. Participants did not demonstrate perspective transformation as defined by Mezirow as participants signified no intent for social action. Several potential blocks to perspective transformation were identified: egocentrism/emotional disconnect, perceived powerlessness/being overwhelmed, and a vacation mindset. The findings provide insight into the student experience of studying abroad. Transformative learning is not a guaranteed result. Nurse educators must consider strategies to foster transformation including discussing global systemic oppressors, international relations, coping, connecting, and social action.