Developing Intercultural Competences in the Study-Abroad Programme Semester at Sea (SAS)

Claude Hélène Mayer, Lynette Louw, Jeff Larsen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Semester at Sea is a US-American study abroad programme during which students spend a semester on a ship studying while visiting various countries. The purpose of this article is to determine the intercultural competence development in the students during the Fall voyage through a self-assessment questionnaire. The research is anchored in a post-positivistic research paradigm, using an intercultural competence survey questionnaire to determine the intercultural competence at the beginning and at the end of the voyage in 182 participants. Results show that the intercultural competences, in terms of intercultural knowledge, awareness and skills of the students improved significantly during the voyage, when comparing all pre-voyage and post-voyage scores of the three components. This means that the SAS programme creates a diverse and multicultural learning space within the international educational system, promoting cultural knowledge, awareness, skill development through the combination of an academic curriculum and hands-on intercultural experiences. The study contributes to evaluating SAS as a US study abroad programme and provides conclusions and recommendations for future research and practice.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)120-131
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Intercultural Communication
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2024


  • Intercultural competence
  • competence development
  • contact zone
  • intercultural communication
  • study abroad

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Gender Studies
  • Cultural Studies
  • Communication
  • Education
  • Linguistics and Language
  • Public Administration
  • Strategy and Management


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