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As more guided study abroad interventions move online and into a collaborative format, it is important to not only examine the influence of students’ social interactions as related to their intercultural development and experiences in the interventions, but also understand which variables influenced the success of an intervention. The purpose of this study was to identify factors that influenced students’ intercultural development and experiences in a collaborative online international learning pre-departure study abroad intervention. To explore these questions I designed a collaborative online international learning intervention for pre-departure study abroad students.

Pre-departure U.S. study abroad students and international students coming to study abroad in the U.S. attended an online, collaborative seminar together over the course of six weeks in the fall and five weeks in the spring. Garrison et al.’s (2000) Community of Inquiry model influenced the seminar design and data analysis. A mixed-methods approach was used to gather data needed to study the intervention outcomes. Data was obtained from: (1) a needs assessment; (2) pre and post IDI® scores from intervention and comparison groups; (3) focus groups; and (4) online discussions. The three forms of data analysis used in this study, the IDI®, Community of Inquiry framework, and phenomenological review of participants’ text, provided a layered understanding of the research questions. Data analysis suggested that designing and sustaining a successful Community of Inquiry, as well as a successful online collaborative learning environment, is not without its challenges. This research demonstrated several technical and social challenges of building a Community of Inquiry and how a redesign of an intervention can influence outcomes. Several challenges of collaborative learning and creating online communities identified in Computer-supported collaborative learning research were also apparent in this study. Overall, this study underscored several variables that influence learning outcomes and experiences within a collaborative online international learning intervention.


A dissertation submitted to the Graduate School of Education Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey, in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree Doctor of Education, Graduate Program in the Design of Learning Environments.



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