22 SES 09 A, International Perspectives on Educational Research
One effect of globalisation is the need and desire of individuals to leave their homeland in order to pursue better education, a healthier life, more job opportunities, or solely for holiday travel. Higher education institutions often use the Erasmus programme, an educational exchange between European countries and European Union (EU) candidate countries, to allow students to gain education in Europe. The Erasmus programme has taken place in Turkey since 2004. Past research literature investigated the effects of the Erasmus programme (Önder-Kasapoğlu & Balcı, 2010; Seyhan Yücel, 2013), positive effects of the programme on students’ personal and professional development (Ersoy & Günel, 2011; Seyhan Yücel, 2013; Tekin & Hiç Gencer, 2013; Yağcı, Ekinci, Burgaz, Kelecioğlu, & Ergene, 2007) and obstacles students have faced in foreign countries and universities (Ersoy, 2013; Tekin & Hiç Gencer, 2013; Yağcı, Çetin ve Turhan, 2013).
In Ersoy’s (2013) study, outgoing students had difficulties in areas including language barriers, cultural differences and prejudice against Turkish culture. In Tekin & Hiç Gencer’s (2013) study, outgoing Erasmus students stated that they had difficulties due to their lack of language proficiency. Yağcı, Çetin & Turhan (2013), found that incoming students had difficulty obtaining a sufficient amount of information regarding course offerings.
Other research studies investigated the positive effects of the Erasmus programme on university students. For example, being an Erasmus student in a foreign country provided several advantages including; increasing students’ level of cultural awareness and being open to other customs and traditions (Demir & Demir, 2009; Ersoy, 2013; Jacobone & Moro, 2015; McKenzie & Purdy, 2010), having experiences which ensure personal development (Ersoy, 2013), increasing their professional development experiences (Ersoy, 2013), being more critical to their own culture (Demir & Demir, 2009; Ersoy, 2013), increasing language skills (Demir & Demir, 2009; Jacobone & Moro, 2015; Seyhan Yücel, 2013), and increasing their level of self-efficacy (Tekin ve Hiç Gencer, 2013)
The results of Seyhan Yücel’s (2013) study showed that students’ academic and daily language skills improved. Additionally, students stated that living abroad made them more inquisitive and more critical thinkers. In a similar study, Jacobone & Moro (2015), students mentioned that being a part of the Erasmus student exchange programme allowed students to increase their language skills and self-efficacy. Students also stated that having experiences abroad helped them to find better employment. Additionally, having European friends changed these students’ perspectives towards foreign countries and cultures. Furthermore, these students reflected that they started to see themselves as European citizens.
Tekin & Hiç Gencer (2013) found that having experiences in Europe helped students learn more about other cultures. Through the Erasmus program, students were also able to travel in Europe with ease. These students had opportunities to interact with foreign classmates and returned to their countries with an increased level of self-efficacy.
In short, related literature showed that throughout the years, the Erasmus program was emphasized as being effective for improving students’ language skills, allowing them to gain a global view and providing opportunities for personal growth. Even though several studies investigated Erasmus students’ experiences not many studies compared incoming and outgoing students’ experiences. Thus, the purpose of the present study was to reveal both groups of Erasmus students’ views about Erasmus programme. Incoming and outgoing students’ views regarding the contributions and obstacles experienced in the programme as well as their suggestions to improve the Erasmus programme were investigated. Research questions are:
- What were the contributions of the Erasmus Programme for incoming and outgoing students?
- What obstacles were faced by incoming and outgoing students when participating in the Erasmus Programme?
- What do incoming and outgoing students recommend to improve the Erasmus programme?
In this qualitative study, the Erasmus programme was investigated based on the views of incoming and outgoing Erasmus students. Studies which investigated the quality of an interaction, event, action, condition and/or material were accepted as qualitative research (Fraenkel & Wallen, 2003). Participants included nine incoming students from various universities who attended at least one semester of study at Ankara University and 42 outgoing students from Ankara University who attended studies at European universities. A written interview form was sent via e-mail to a total of 435 outgoing students and 10% (n=42) of the forms were returned. In order to get the views of incoming students a total of 225 e-mails were sent and 4% (n=9) of the students replied. The interview form utilized for collecting data for this study was developed by researchers based on a review of related literature. To provide face validity for the form it was sent to Ankara University’s institutional coordinator, one faculty Erasmus coordinator and one expert working in the European Union office. The data collection form was finalised based on their recommendations and revisions. The written interview form was composed of two sections. Participants’ demographic information such as the name of their universities and faculties, their gender and age, their educational level, type of mobility program they participated in, which faculty they attended as an Erasmus student as well as the duration of mobility in the first section. The second section of the form had four open ended questions regarding students’ views on the advantages of the Erasmus programme, obstacles they experienced and their recommendations to improve the programme. Since the data of the study was obtained through the written interview form, the collected data was analysed utilizing the document analysis method (Krippendorf, 2004). Through document analysis, written resources about events and phenomenon, are investigated and analysed as the targeted research area (Yıldırım & Şimşek, 2005). While analysing the data, first, a framework based on the research questions for data analysis was created. According to this framework, researchers determined under which themes the data would be coded. Later, the collected data was reviewed several times and coded under related sub-categories. The researchers re-checked whether direct quotations were listed under the correct sub-categories. The data was evaluated after researchers reached full consensus. Each incoming (IES) and outgoing (OES) Erasmus student was labelled by a number (i.e., “IES2” refers to the 2nd incoming Erasmus student).
This study investigated the views of Ankara University’s incoming and outgoing Erasmus students regarding advantages of the programme, problems students experienced and their recommendations to improve the programme. Positive effects of the Erasmus programme for both incoming and outgoing students were listed under academic benefits and cultural benefits. Both groups of students emphasized that their educational experiences and background were enriched, they had opportunities to communicate effectively with academic staff, that they experienced practical teaching methods, and increased their language skills. Additionally, outgoing Erasmus students, listed having a smaller course-load, increasing their personal development, use of facilities at the host universities, and recognizing the value of their profession were listed as academic benefits. In terms of Erasmus programme`s cultural benefits both groups emphasized the benefits of learning about different cultures. In terms of the cultural benefits of the programme, outgoing students also emphasized learning about the culture of host country as well as representing their own Turkish culture. Becoming familiar with the Turkish language and gaining experiences with Turkish culture were mentioned as advantages by incoming Erasmus students. Both groups of students stated experiencing difficulties due to differences in curriculum, not being able to effectively contact Erasmus coordinators and academic staff, bureaucratic difficulties and adaptation problems. Not being able to find resources in English, to take courses with Turkish students and attend sports activities were emphasized as obstacles experienced by the incoming students. Outgoing students listed financial, language and accommodation problems as obstacles they experienced. Some of the recommendations provided by incoming students were preparing better Erasmus websites, increasing the number of courses offered for Erasmus students and providing better communication with exchange universities. Increasing the awareness for the Erasmus programme, the amount of funding for students and the number of agreements were recommendations made by the outgoing Erasmus students.
Demir, A., & Demir, S. (2009). Erasmus programının kültürlerarası diyalog ve etkileşim açısından değerlendirilmesi (Öğretmen adaylarıyla nitel bir çalışma). Uluslararası Sosyal Araştırmalar Dergisi, 2(9), 95-105. Ersoy, A. (2013). Turkish teacher candidates’ challenges regarding cross-cultural experiences: The case of Erasmus exchange program. Education and Science, 38(168), 154-166. Ersoy, A., & Günel, E. (2011). Cross-cultural experiences through Erasmus: Pre-service teachers’ individual and professional development. Eurasian Journal of Educational Research, 42, 63-78. Fraenkel, J. R. & Wallen, N. E. (2003). How to design and evaluate research in education. New York, NY: McGraw-Hill. Jacobone, V. & Moro, G. (2015). Evaluating the impact of the Erasmus programme: skills and European identity. Assessment & Evaluation in Higher Education, 40(2), 309-328. Krippendorff, K. (2004). Content analysis: An introduction to its methodology. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publication. McKenzie, L. R., & Purdy, N. (2010). The impact of diversity visits for student teachers in Northern Ireland. Intercultural Education, 21, 415 -427. Önder-Kasapoğlu, R., & Balcı, A. (2010). Erasmus öğrenci öğrenim hareketliliği programının 2007 yılında programdan yararlanan Türk öğrenciler üzerindeki etkileri. Ankara Avrupa Çalışmaları Dergisi, 9(2), 93-116. Seyhan-Yücel, M. (2013). Alman dili eğitimi öğretmen adaylarının Erasmus programı kapsamında dilsel ve kültürel deneyimleri. Ankara Üniversitesi Eğitim Bilimleri Fakültesi Dergisi, 46 (1), 23-47. Tekin, U. ve Hiç-Gencer, A. (2013). Effects of the Erasmus programme on Turkish universities and university students. Trakya Üniversitesi Sosyal Bilimler Dergisi, 15(1), 109-122. Yağcı, E., Çetin, S. ve Turhan, B. (2013). Erasmus programı ile Türkíye'ye gelen öğrencilerin karşılaştıkları akademík güçlükler. Challenges faced by the students who came to Turkey via Erasmus programme. Hacettepe Üniversitesi Eğitim Fakültesi Dergisi, 44, 341-350. Yağcı, E., Ekinci, C. E., Burgaz, B., Kelecioğlu, H., & Ergene, T. (2007). Yurtdışına giden Hacettepe Üniversitesi Erasmus öğrencilerinin memnuniyet düzeyleri. Hacettepe Üniversitesi Eğitim Fakültesi Dergisi, 33, 229-239. Yıldırım A. ve Şimşek, H. (2005). Sosyal bilimlerde nitel araştırma yöntemleri. Ankara: Seçkin Yayınevi.
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