doi: 10:5191/jiaee.2013.20304

 

Using Reflective Journals to Gain Insight
Into an Agricultural Communications-Intensive Study Tour

 

Amanda Northfell

University of Arkansas / AECT Department

 

Leslie D. Edgar

University of Arkansas / AECT Department

205 Agriculture Building

Fayetteville, AR 72701

(479) 575-6770 Phone / (479) 575-2610 Fax

This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

 

Jefferson Davis Miller

University of Arkansas / AECT Department

205 Agriculture Building

Fayetteville, AR 72701

(479) 575-5650 Phone / (479) 575-2610 Fax

This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

 

Casandra K. Cox

University of Arkansas / AECT Department

205 Agriculture Building

Fayetteville, AR 72701

(479) 575-2035 Phone / (479) 575-2610 Fax

This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

 

Abstract

The globalization of society continues through the expansion of information media channels and presents the need to prepare internationally experienced agriculture students. International study experiences impact students’ global perceptions and in turn shape public perceptions regarding the future of agriculture. The purpose of this study was to gain insight into intensive work experiences for agriculture students studying abroad. Students from four land-grant universities (N = 11) were selected to participate in a three-week intensive study tour in Ghent, Belgium. Students recorded their perceptions throughout the experience using reflective journals. A content analysis was conducted on the journal entries to identify thematic reflections related to personal and professional development. The qualitative data analysis revealed the personal and professional value students found in the international experiential learning opportunity. Students struggled the most when working with clients but found successfully completing projects to be rewarding. Students’ confidence levels steadily increased as they realized they could contribute to their teams and successfully serve a client in a professional setting. Host families were the most pressing concern for students but proved to be an impactful means of exposing students to Belgian culture. Students often sought normalcy by comparing the European culture to America and built lasting relationships with classmates and host families through meals and outings. Earlier research recommended increasing students’ opportunities in global agriculture by placing students in international settings, and this study supports this finding and encourages international work-related experiences.

 

Keywords: Student Work Experience, Agricultural Communications, Experiential Learning, Study Tour, Reflective Journals

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