Date of Award


Document Type

Campus Access Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Public Policy

First Advisor

Mary H. Stevenson

Second Advisor

Donna H. Friedman

Third Advisor

Joseph Berger


The world has grown increasingly integrated and multilateral, requiring citizens to have a corresponding set of global competencies. This requirement has significant implications for elementary and secondary education institutions which must adjust to these new realities. The American historical record, however, shows a lack of political will for global education and a tendency towards insularity, resulting in underdeveloped global perspectives among Americans. Consequently, American educators lack international experience and knowledge; thus, they are unable to transmit the necessary global knowledge and skills that are in high demand today.

Research shows that cultural exchange is highly effective in developing one's global understanding and skills (Sowa 2002). Few research studies, however, have explored the experiences of adult learners who partake in informal exchanges (Merriam, Caffarella & Baumgartner, 2007). This dissertation explores the experiences of American primary and secondary school administrators who have participated in the U.S.-China Administrator Shadowing Project (ASP), managed by the China Exchange Initiative in Newton, Massachusetts. ASP provides opportunities for American and Chinese pre-college administrators to learn about and participate in one another's educational systems.

I explored the impact of this exchange experience through a mixed-methods research design. I used the Intercultural Development Inventory (IDI), based in part on Bennett's (1993) Developmental Model of Intercultural Sensitivity, in addition to observations of program events in the United States and China, and participant interviews. Although the data collected from the IDI showed a minimal, but positive impact of the administrators' experiences, qualitative data showed a tremendous impact, illustrating the importance of the mixed method design and the difficulty of quantifying intercultural sensitivity. Using transformational learning theory, my qualitative analysis supports previous research studies that show significant personal and organizational benefits of study abroad. These American administrators brought back new perspectives and knowledge and incorporated them into their professional practices in ways that have enriched themselves and their schools. Studying the impact of short-term cultural exchange of educational leaders has important implications for public policy, providing insight into how globalization impacts educational delivery and how education responds to these demands.


Free and open access to this Campus Access Dissertation is made available to the UMass Boston community by ScholarWorks at UMass Boston. Those not on campus and those without a UMass Boston campus username and password may gain access to this dissertation through resources like Proquest Dissertations & Theses Global or through Interlibrary Loan. If you have a UMass Boston campus username and password and would like to download this work from off-campus, click on the "Off-Campus UMass Boston Users" link above.