Situated Learning – Foreign Sites as Learning Contexts  


  • Bo Chang Ball State University



foreign sites, learning contexts, situated learning, socio-cultural learning, study abroad


As part of the globalization effort, study abroad has been researched in the fields of education, business, language, etc. However, what is not well-discussed is how foreign sites in study abroad programs can function as learning contexts to promote in-depth learning in various subject areas, which was the purpose of this study. Twelve participants from one public research university involved in some study abroad programs were interviewed. Documents such as syllabi and travel plans relevant to participants’ trip were also collected. The data were analyzed inductively. The findings show that foreign sites serve as learning context to support students’ learning by (a) providing cues to understand new knowledge from different perspectives; (b) providing a context to understand the meaning behind words; (c) providing minute details tying facts towards abstract knowledge; and (d) creating a space for stimulating emotional attachments.


Download data is not yet available.


Alnufaishan, S., & Alrashidi, A. (2019). Democracy and education through the eyes of Kuwaiti politicians: A phenomenological study. Education Sciences, 9(1), 60.

Anderson, J. R., Reder, L. M., & Simon, H. A. (1996). Situated learning and education. Educational Researcher, 25(4), 5-11.

Artemeva, N. (2008). Toward a unified social theory of genre learning. Journal of Business and Technical Communication, 22(2), 160-185.

Chang, B. (2017). Transformative learning: Reader’s guide. International Journal of Adult Vocational Education and Technology (Special issue), 8(1), 16-22.

Chang, B. (2018). Patterns of knowledge construction. Adult Education Quarterly, 68(2), 108–136.

Berger, P. L., & Luckmann, T. (1967). The social construction of reality: A treatise in the sociology of knowledge. Anchor Books.

Brown, J. S., Collins, A., & Duguid, P. (1989). Situated cognition and the culture of learning. Educational Researcher, 18(1), 32-42.

Cognition and Technology Group at Vanderbilt. (1990). Anchored instruction and its relationship to situated cognition. Educational Researcher, 19(6), 2-10.

Cognition and Technology Group at Vanderbilt. (1992). The Jasper experiment: An exploration of issues in learning and instructional design. Educational Technology Research and Development, 40(1), 65-80.

Davenport, T., & Prusak, L. (1998). Working Knowledge. Harvard Business School Press: Boston.

Doerr, N. M. (2015). Learner subjects in study abroad: discourse of immersion, hierarchy

of experience and their subversion through situated learning. Discourse: Studies in the Cultural Politics of Education, 36 (3), 369–382.

Dreyfus, T., Hershkowitz, R., & Schwarz, B. (2001). Abstraction in context II: The case of peer

interaction. Cognitive Science Quarterly, 1, 307-368.

Dirkx, J. M. (2008). The meaning and role of emotions in adult learning. New Directions for Adult and Continuing Education, 2008(120), 7-18.

Dolby, N. (2004). Encountering an American self: Study abroad and national identity. Comparative Education Review, 48(2), 150-173.

Fasching-Varner, K. J., Denny, R. K., Stone, M. P., Stewart, L. M., Albornoz, C. F., Mora, R., … Denny, M. A. (2018). Love in a "glocal" world: Living and learning to teach through study abroad. Multicultural Perspectives, 20(3), 135-147.

Fast facts. (2019).

Goldoni, F. (2013). Students' immersion experiences in study abroad. Foreign Language Annals, 46(3), 359-376.

Gopal, A. (2011). Internationalization of higher education: Preparing faculty to teach cross-culturally. International Journal of Teaching and Learning in Higher Education, 23(3), 373-381.

Gustafsson, J. (2017). Single case studies vs. multiple case studies: A comparative study.

Hammarberg, K., Kirkman, M., & de Lacey, S. (2016). Qualitative research methods: When to use them and how to judge them. Human Reproduction (Oxford), 31(3), 498-501. doi:10.1093/humrep/dev334

Ikeda, D. (2010). Soka education: For the happiness of the individual. Middleway Press.

Kassam, K-A. (2009). Biocultural diversity and indigenous ways of knowing: Human ecology in

the arctic. University of Calgary Press.

Kishino, H., & Takahashi, T. (2019). Global citizenship development: Effects of study abroad and other factors. Journal of International Students, 9(2), 535-559.

Kolb, D. A. (1984). Experiential learning: Experience as the source of learning and development. Prentice-Hall.

Kolb, Boyatis, Mainemelis (1999). Experiential learning theory: Previous research and new directions.

Lave, J., & Wenger, E. (1990). Situated Learning: Legitimate peripheral participation.

Cambridge University Press.

Long, T. E. (2013). From study abroad to global studies: Reconstructing international education for a globalized world. Frontiers: The Interdisciplinary Journal of Study Abroad, 22, 25-36.

Marcus, B., Weigelt, O., Hergert, J., Gurt, J., & Gelléri, P. (2017). The use of snowball sampling for multi-source organizational research: Some cause for concern. Personnel Psychology, 70(3), 635-673.

Marijuan, S., & Sanz, C. (2018). Expanding boundaries: Current and new directions in study abroad research and practice. Foreign Language Annals, 51(1), 185-204.

Maza, H. (1963). American students abroad: A proposal for standards. The Modern Language Journal, 47(1), 4-7.

Mezirow, J. (1978). Perspective transformation. Adult Education, 28(2), 100–109.

Montrose, M. (2015). International study and experiential learning: The academic context.

Niedenthal, P. M., Barsalou, L.W., Ric, F., & Krauth-Gruber, S. (2005). Embodiment in the acquisition and use of emotion knowledge. In L. F. Barrett, P. M. Niedenthal, & P. Winkielman (Eds.), Emotion and Consciousness (pp. 21-50). Guilford.

Nummenmaa, L., Glerean, E., Hari, R., & Hietanen, J. K. (2014). Bodily maps of emotions. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 111(2), 646-651.

Roberts, E., & Sayer, K. (2017). Introducing "the matrix classroom" university course design that facilitates active and situated learning though creating two temporary communities of practice. International Journal on Teaching and Learning in Higher Education, 29(2), 293.

Sargeant, J. (2012). Qualitative research part II: Participants, analysis, and quality assurance. Journal of Graduate Medical Education, 4(1), 1-3.

Pasquale, J. (2016). Mathematical beauty in Rome: A study-abroad program for STEM students. 2016 IEEE Integrated STEM Education Conference (ISEC), 50-57.

Priest, K. L., Saucier, D. A., & Eiselein, G. (2016). Exploring students' experiences in first-year learning communities from a situated learning perspective. International Journal on Teaching and Learning in Higher Education, 28(3), 361.

Santos, M. E. C., Lübke, A. i. W., Taketomi, T., Yamamoto, G., Rodrigo, M. M. T., Sandor, C., & Kato, H. (2016). Augmented reality as multimedia: The case for situated vocabulary learning. Research and Practice in Technology Enhanced Learning, 11(1)

Singh, J. K. N., & Jack, G. (2018). The benefits of overseas study for international postgraduate students in Malaysia. Higher Education, 75(4), 607-624.

Subbotsky, E. (n. d.). Vygotsky's distinction between lower and higher mental functions and recent studies on infant cognitive development.

Pitri, E. (2004). Situated learning in a classroom community. Art Education, 57(6), 6-12.

Stein, D. (1998). Situated learning in adult education (ERIC Digest No. 195). Urbana, IL: ERIC Clearinghouse on Elementary and Early Childhood Education (ERIC Identifier No. ED 418250).

Take, H., & Shoraku, A. (2018). Universities' expectations for study-abroad programs fostering internationalization: Educational policies. Journal of Studies in International Education, 22(1), 37-52.

Thomas, D. (2006). A general inductive approach for analyzing qualitative evaluation data. American Journal of Evaluation, 27(2), 237-246.

Tsui, A. B. M., & Ng, M. M. Y. (2010). Cultural contexts and situated possibilities in the teaching of second language writing. Journal of Teacher Education, 61(4), 364-375.

Young, M. F. (1993). Instructional design for situated learning. Educational Technology Research and Development, 41(1), 43-58.

Vygotsky, L. S., Cole, M., John-Steiner, V., Scribner, S., & Souberman, E. (Eds.). (1978). Mind in society: The development of higher psychological processes. Harvard University Press.



2021-05-05 — Updated on 2021-05-07


How to Cite

Chang, B. (2021). Situated Learning – Foreign Sites as Learning Contexts  . Journal of Comparative & International Higher Education, 13(2), 5–22. (Original work published May 5, 2021)



Empirical Article