Short-term study abroad programmes in social work: a scoping review of the literature on learning outcomes

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Abstract

Study abroad programmes are an increasingly popular component of social work education worldwide and a range of claims have been made about the associated benefits of these programmes. To explore the nature and extent of current knowledge in relation to student learning outcomes, a scoping review of social work literature was undertaken. A comprehensive search of scholarly databases for peer-reviewed social work studies, which examined student learning outcomes during and/or after participation in a short-term study abroad programme revealed a body of literature, predominantly from the Global North, with a wealth of qualitatively rich information and in-depth reflection on student experiences. While enhanced learning and understanding of social work were identified as primary benefits, increased intercultural awareness and enhanced professional identity were discussed as additional benefits. Emergent themes also exposed some gaps in knowledge about the longer-term outcomes of short-term study abroad programmes as well as equity and access issues for students. Drawing on the findings of the scoping review, implications for ethical programme development and delivery are considered, including the nature of relationships between host and destination countries, and the need for more comprehensive, longitudinal and mixed-methods research to assess the learning outcomes for programme participants.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-16
Number of pages16
JournalSocial Work Education
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 11 Apr 2021

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