Title

The Effects of Disclosure On the Reentry Experience of United States College and University Students Returning From a Semester Abroad

Date of Award

2007

Degree Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Department

Communication Studies

First Advisor

Charles Tardy

Advisor Department

Communication Studies

Abstract

This study investigated the effects of disclosure on American college and university students' experiences of intercultural reentry following a semester of study abroad. Data were provided by twenty students returning from an overseas study program in France operated by The University of Southern Mississippi and consortium partners. Each experimental participant wrote four essays focusing on his or her cognitive and emotional experiences associated with reentry. The effects of disclosure were examined for improvements in reentry shock, identity confusion/distress, psychological and emotional distress, and interpersonal relationship problems. Participants' essays were also analyzed to determine if beneficial progress occurred. Limited support was found for the influence of disclosure. Some significant differences were found in positive and negative relationship changes, but these were not consistent with predictions. No significant differences were revealed by dependent variables measuring reentry shock, identity confusion, and psychological/emotional distress. However, reentry shock scores exhibited a trend in the expected direction, and exploratory analysis conducted on participants' essays likewise demonstrated some progress towards "closure" in students' thoughts and feelings about returning to the U.S. These findings suggested implications for future research and prompted recommendations for international education practitioners working with students returning from abroad.