Date of Award
Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)
Educational Policy and Leadership
Chubbuck, Sharon M.
The purpose of this study was to explore the interaction of summer language study abroad students in Madrid, Spain, with a cultural and linguistic "Other," and to examine the resulting evolution in those participants' openness to that Other. Gordon Allport's four optimal conditions for prejudice reduction in intergroup contact theory provided the framework for this analysis. The student in a language study abroad context is both a linguistic and cultural minority, an experience manifested in multiple daily interactions that potentially affect openness to the linguistic and cultural Other. As such, qualitative data were drawn from six participants via interviews during and soon after their experience abroad, and presented in the form of case studies. These interviews were centered around the following: (1) participants' sense of equality of social status with the Other while abroad, (2) participants' participation in common, authentic tasks with members of the Other, (3) the participants' sense of community and/or institutional support to foster positive relationships with the Other, and (4) participants' sense of the level of intergroup cooperation in the effort to achieve their goals. Constant comparative analysis, developed by Glaser (1965), was used to analyze the data. Data were analyzed in three different levels: (1) Within-case analysis of participants' experiences and issues arising that centered around the themes of Allport's optimal conditions, openness to the Other, and uniqueness of those experiences and issues due to language study abroad, (2) cross-case analysis of those same themes, and (3) holistically cross-case and cross-theme analysis with an identification of findings that may also contribute to one's evolution or de-evolution of openness to a linguistic and cultural Other. The findings suggest that the agency of each individual study abroad participant creates or at least affects Allport's (1954) optimal conditions in relation to the unique context of a language study abroad. Specifically, participants exercise agency around three factors when understanding openness to the Other on a language study abroad. These include: (1) participants' goal re-embracement or reframing; (2) by-proxy evaluations of meaningful relationships within homestay "teams," and; (3) participant initiative versus passivity.