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Committee Members -


  • Dr. Richard Ruiz - (Chair) Professor, Teaching/Learning and Sociocultural Studies

  • Dr. Sheilah Nicholas (Chair) - Associate Professor, Teaching/Learning and Sociocultural Studies

  • Dr. Chris Johnson - (Minor Chair) Assistant Professor, Educational Technology

  • Dr. Perry Gilmore - Professor, Teaching/Learning and Sociocultural Studies

  • Dr. Leisy Wyman - Associate Professor, Teaching/Learning and Sociocultural Studies


Dissertation - Spring & Summer 2015

Digital Storytelling as an Assessment Practice

in Study Abroad Programs

Dissertation Chapters


This dissertation has been created in a three article format.  The first chapter consist of the introduction to the research and a review of the literature.  Chapters two, three and four are articles written from different perspectives based upon the findings. Chapter two is written from an assessment lens, while chapter three examines the research from a study abroad perspective, and finally chapter four explores the finding from a digital literacy viewpoint. The last chapter of the dissertation is a conclusion that wraps up the total summation of the research.

Chapter 1 

Introduction and Review of the Literture

The literature around digital storytelling and study abroad has explored usage and formation of identity through personal experience.  Outside of the study abroad arena, digital storytelling has been researched with pre-service teachers to find if it was effective in promoting engagement and reflection for academic outcomes (Ivala, Gachago, Condy & Chigona, 2013). However, in reviewing the literature very little research was found in the use of digital storytelling to measure both personal and academic learning outcomes within the study abroad environment. Therefore, the purpose of this study was to conduct research related to digital storytelling as an assessment practice for measuring not only personal growth, but also as a method for assessing academic learning outcomes in summer faculty-led study-abroad programs.

This research is significant in exploring the critical issue of awarding academic credit for what students are actually learning during and after a studying abroad program.  Students need an effective way to demonstrate their learning outcomes to faculty in order to gain academic credit for experience and knowledge obtained while studying abroad.  This study explored if the method of digital storytelling through the use of multimedia tools, including the digital tool Voice Thread, can be an effective way for students to accomplish this task.

Chapter 2
Digital Storytelling as an Assessment Practice

This article investigates the use of digital storytelling and reflection as an assessment practice for academic content acquisition and personal growth.  The review of the literature takes into consideration narratives, traditional storytelling and digital storytelling as an assessment practice. The primary focus of this article is to explore and consider the use of digital storytelling for the demonstration of learning outcomes through a reflective process, therefore providing educators with a method for assessment that could be used in teaching and learning environments. Constructivism was the theory used to frame the learning and social construct of the students.  The research study discussed in this article was originally conducted in higher education summer study abroad setting.



“Reflection is the process of stepping back from an experience to ponder, carefully and persistently, its meaning to the self through the development of inferences; learning is the creation of meaning from past or current events that serves as a guide for future behaviour."

M. W. Daudelin

Chapter 3
Digital Storytelling and Study Abroad Programs

In the field of study abroad there has been criticism around the academic rigor of coursework within study abroad programs.  Many stakeholders of the study abroad experience are taking a closer look at student learning outcomes from the time spend traveling overseas. To help satisfy these stakeholders it is recommended that more innovative and meaningful assessment practices be implemented for students to demonstrate their learning outcomes in study abroad programs.  The purpose of this study was to investigate a method that would assist in creating an innovative and meaningful assessment tool for study abroad students.  The study helped identify the affordances of digital storytelling as a reflective practice and assessment method for demonstrating academic and personal learning outcomes for students participating in study abroad programs.  The focus of this study was to implement a digital storytelling assignment in four faculty-led summer study abroad programs.  Over the course of four summers the assignment was used to as a tool to help students reflect upon what they learned and demonstrate their knowledge through the practice of digital storytelling.  This article discusses the finding of the research and recommendations for implementation and further study of digital storytelling as an assessment practice in study abroad.

Chapter 4
Advancing Digital Literacy through Digital Storytelling

Digital literacy has become a vital part of our world and should be one of the cornerstones of our educational curriculum.  It is essential that students have the ability to effectively and critically navigate, evaluate and create information utilizing a variety of digital technologies.  The aim of this qualitative study was to use digital storytelling as a catalyst for assisting students in demonstrating their learning outcomes while participating in a study abroad program. The students were instructed about the process of storytelling and required to use a multimedia Internet tool called VoiceThread. The students created storyboards, scripts, took photos and/or videos and recorded their own voice through digital means. The final product was a digital story to be shared with their instructor and peers.  The instruments used to evaluate the effectiveness of the digital storytelling assignment including, a digital storytelling rubric, observation of the integration of digital technologies, surveys and interviews. Over the course of four summers, several groups of study abroad students shared their experience about the digital storytelling assignment.  The findings from this study not only inform about the use of digital storytelling as an assessment practice, but also explore the growth of digital literacy among university students who participated in the project. 

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