Short-Term Travel Abroad To Uganda & Guatemala: A Preliminary Assessment Of Student Transformative Learning


  • John Wood, Ph.D. University of Central Oklahoma
  • Jarrett Jobe University of Central Oklahoma


travel abroad, transformative learning, students




We take a cumulative case studies approach to explore transformative learning in the areas of service learning, global competencies, and leadership through travel abroad course trips to Uganda (May 2016, 2017) and Guatemala (March 2017). These courses took students on service learning trips to educate and develop their knowledge and experiences related to the Central Six learning tenets at the University of Central Oklahoma. Student’s primary emphasis for these experiences was the completion of a service focused project in partnership with a local organization. In addition to these projects, students engaged in cultural learning activities and programs focused on local customs and experiences. In Uganda, students partnered with St. Monica’s Tailoring School/Sewing Hope Foundation to support their educational and civic efforts in the communities of Gulu and Atiak. In Guatemala, students partnered with Habitat with Humanity’s Global Village program. In both tours with different students, we assessed whether students have exhibited indications of expanded perspectives by conducting a post experience, transformative learning assessment tool and by looking for evidence in student journaling using our Student Transformative Learning Record (STLR) rubric. We compared the trips to better assess their transformative potential for students. The research is valuable as little to no work has examined pairing transformative learning and short-term student travel abroad. We do find indications of transformation in students on both trips, especially through global and intercultural awareness.

Author Biographies

John Wood, Ph.D., University of Central Oklahoma

John Wood, Ph.D. is an associate professor of public administration in the MPA program at UCO. He teaches class mainly about the local level focusing on leadership, policy, management and sustainability. In 2016, he won the Liberal Arts’ New Faculty of the Year Award. Wood is President of the Oklahoma Conference of AAUP and on the ICMA Sustainable Communities Committee. He is the former vice mayor of Guthrie, Oklahoma, formerly chairing Guthrie’s finance and street committees. In this role, Wood also served on the ACOG board and vice chair of the Garber-Wellington Aquifer advisory board. In addition to his teaching and service, Wood published the edited volume Taking Sides:Clashing Views in State & Local Government, as well as 13 peer-reviewed articles in areas of government ethics, public administration and environmental policy. He has also traveled to 35 countries, served in the USMC during the Gulf War in 1990-91, and is married to his beautiful wife, Bonnie.

Jarrett Jobe, University of Central Oklahoma

Jarrett Jobe currently serves as Executive Director of Student Leadership Programs at the University of Central Oklahoma where he also serves as an adjunct professor in political science and leadership. He also serves as an adjunct professor at the University of Oklahoma where he teaches courses related to international relations, particularly the United Nations. At UCO, he developed the Global Service Leadership Study Tours and has taken students to Peru, South Africa, Nicaragua, Guatemala, Uganda, Cuba and Costa Rica. He also taught courses for the military in Germany, Belgium, Italy and the United Kingdom. He holds a Bachelor’s of Forensic Science from the University of Central Oklahoma and a doctoral degree in Political Science from the University of Oklahoma. He has been recognized as a “20 under 35” Edmond community leader, a journal record “40 under 40“, awarded the President’s Award for Leadership and Civic Engagement at UCO, was awarded the Global Citizens Award in 2016 from the New World Experiences Foundation and currently serves on the UCO Alumni Board, serving as past President. He has received several grants for academic work including an OU Presidential fellowship to study abroad in France and represented UCO as a Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) intern. His philanthropic interests include the Oklahoma Regional Food Bank, Pros for Africa and Habitat for Humanity.


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