Date of Award


Degree Name

PhD Leadership Studies

Dissertation Committee

Fred J. Galloway, EdD; Lea A. Hubbard, PhD; Gary Rhodes, PhD


college sophomores, gender, higher education, identity scale, intercultural maturity, knowledge scale, Leadership studies, explanatory mixed-methody study, multifaceted approach, optimal environments, Second Year Experience Abroad program, sequential case study, study abroad


Leaders in higher education bear the responsibility of creating educational environments and programming that promote student development and help prepare graduates to work, live, and lead in today's interconnected and global society. Such institutional programming, which fosters intercultural maturity, defined as the cognitive, intrapersonal, and interpersonal developmental capacities that enable students to act in ways that are aware and appropriate, should be available to all students. Scholarly work, however, demonstrates that sophomore students receive the least amount of institutional attention and thus have fewer programs directed at fostering their development. As a result, sophomores can find themselves negotiating developmental challenges with little support or guidance. In an effort to explore the efficacy of one approach to providing developmental support for sophomores, this study examined the Second Year Experience Abroad program, one university's attempt to re-engage sophomore students by fostering intercultural maturity. Specifically, the purpose of this mixed-methods explanatory sequential case study was to explore the relationship between study abroad programming and the extent to which it supports sophomore students by fostering intercultural maturity. Data collected using the Global Perspectives Inventory (GPI), a pre- and post-experience survey measuring the various capacities of intercultural maturity, revealed that sophomores experienced significant gains in awareness and understanding of various cultures and their impact on the global society (knowledge scale), and awareness and acceptance of the dimensions of their identity (identity scale). Regression analysis indicated that gender was associated with increases in almost all capacities related to intercultural maturity, where females experienced higher gains than their male counterparts. Interviews suggested that their experiences abroad influenced participants' development of intercultural maturity to varying degrees, with more significant growth in the cognitive and intrapersonal domains. Cognitive gains included an increased understanding of the importance of cultural context when evaluating difference, while intrapersonal gains involved self-reflection in discovering identity. Taken together, this study contributes to the pre-existing knowledgebase surrounding study abroad programming and how promoting intercultural maturity might require a multifaceted approach when supporting sophomore students. Such findings may inform institutional policy and practice, serving as a model for designing innovative programs and solutions that promote intercultural maturity.

Document Type

Dissertation: Open Access


Leadership Studies