CHALLENGES AND BENEFITS OF EXPERIENTIAL LEARNING: THE CASE OF OVERSEAS EXCHANGE PROGRAMS
Keywords:experiential learning; challenges and benefits; overseas exchange programs; experiential learning cycle theory; hospitality and tourism education
This article highlights an increasingly popular form of experiential learning, namely overseas exchange programs. Experiential learning is regarded as a valuable way to link up theoretical knowledge and practical skills in hospitality and tourism education. Although some studies have addressed the importance of experiential learning, the factors influencing students’ choice of overseas exchange programs, and the challenges and benefits of students’ experiential learning are still unclear, especially on the overseas exchange programs. The purpose of this study is to reveal the whole picture of overseas exchange programs by utilizing experiential learning cycle theory, and further understand students’ perception of overseas experiential learning. By employing quantitative and qualitative methods, including questionnaire survey and in-depth interviews with students who have participated in the overseas exchange programs and content analysis of program information, this study analyzes the differences of factors considered by males and females in choosing overseas exchange programs, and displays the four-stage learning process of experiential learning in overseas exchange programs and identifies two themes of challenges (living challenges and learning challenges) and five themes of benefits (cognitive development, behavioural change, multiple skill development, social bonding development, academic competitiveness & employability enhancement) for experiential learning for students majoring in Hospitality and Tourism. The study enriches our understandings of the experiential learning cycle theory and provides insights to educators in the design of future overseas exchange programs.
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