The contribution of short-term cross-cultural immersion to the formation of Catholic school staff


Dutton, Monica. (2019) The contribution of short-term cross-cultural immersion to the formation of Catholic school staff [Thesis].
AuthorsDutton, Monica
Qualification nameDoctor of Education (EdD)

The purpose of this qualitative investigation was to explore the contribution of short-term cross-cultural immersion to the formation of Catholic school staff. The experiences of participants involved in Good Samaritan Education immersion trips served to illuminate an understanding of the immersion experience and its contribution to formation. The study aimed to discover the elements of immersion which foster transformative outcomes, and to reveal how these outcomes are evidenced in participants’ lives in the post-immersion phase. An interpretive research design using the epistemologies of constructivism and constructionism, and the theoretical perspective of symbolic interactionism underpinned the investigation. Case study methodology was adopted and data were gathered through 53 semi-structured interviews. Participants were selected based on their involvement in one of 10 Good Samaritan Education short-term cross-cultural staff immersion trips between 2004 and 2014. As the purpose of formation is transformation of individuals and communities, the data were analysed using the lenses of Transformative Learning Theory (TLT) (Mezirow, 1978a, 1978b, 2000a) and A Framework for Formation for Mission in Catholic Education (National Catholic Education Commission, 2017). These dual lenses provided appropriate scaffolds for understanding the relationships between the constructs of formation and human transformation in the context of short-term cross-cultural immersion. The findings of this research revealed that short-term cross-cultural immersion contributes to staff formation in several meaningful ways, and key elements of immersion which foster transformative outcomes were identified. As the research explored the experiences of participants from nine schools involved in 10 immersion trips to one of five host communities over a 10-year period, the ongoing nature of the influence of immersion was evidenced over various timeframes. Outcomes triggered by their immersion experience were noted in all aspects of participants’ lives. The investigation is significant as it addressed a previously unresearched avenue for formation of Australian Catholic school staff, and based on the findings, offers a development of Mezirow’s (1978a, 1978b, 2000a) model of Transformative Learning Theory. The research concludes that short-term cross-cultural immersion trips make a significant contribution to the formation of Catholic school staff. The findings reveal critical elements in the design and facilitation of immersion trips, the importance of points of connection for participants and the pivotal nature of the medium-term timeframe in the post-immersion phase. The research has the capacity to assist school and system leaders to design immersion experiences which contribute to the formation of Catholic school staff, thereby complementing strategic plans for the mission life of their schools.

PublisherACU Research Bank
Digital Object Identifier (DOI)
Final version
Publication dates13 May 2019
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