Global-readiness and Intercultural Development: Chinese STEM Students in Study Abroad


The internationalization initiative in higher education has witnessed an accelerating number of students venturing abroad to gain some international experience. Chinese study abroad students often find themselves in a complex intercultural environment in their endeavor to become global-ready. To understand the socialization process of Chinese STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) study abroad students in the era of the Fourth Industrial Revolution, a mix-method, longitudinal study is conducted with semester-abroad international exchange students from a Hong Kong university that now sends out 870+ semester-long international exchange students worldwide. The STEM sojourners in a second language environment (i.e., English) are selected as case participants for a thick, rich understanding in the developmental trajectories of language identities, global-mindedness and intercultural learning. Multi-modal data collected from surveys, in-depth interviews, social media, etc., are triangulated and analyzed with the assistance of data processing software. This presentation focuses on the findings from different stages of a study abroad experience (i.e., pre, during, post), revealing the shiftings in the participants’ social network, degree of global-mindedness, and intercultural development on their way towards future-readiness. Findings have implications for pre-departure preparation, sojourn support, and post-sojourn debriefings for educators, program administrators, and other student population from Asia and beyond.