Collaborative Research Paper by APU and IBM Examines the Educational Impact of Short-Term Overseas Training Programs


Nov 15, 2023

Associate Professor Kumiko Tsutsui from the Educational Development and Learning Support Center, along with Professor Miki Cutting and Associate Professor Jung Jonghee from the Center for Language Education, co-authored a research paper in collaboration with IBM Japan, Ltd. (hereinafter referred to as IBM Japan). They analyzed and visualized the learning process in APU's Short-Term Overseas Training Program "FIRST"*1 using AI technology. The paper titled "Visualization of Learning in a Large-Scale, Project-Based Short-Term Overseas Program: Focusing on a Keyword “Makaseru,” Interdependence in Group Interactions" has been published in the 26th issue of “Intercultural Communication,” a research journal published by the Society for Intercultural Education, Training and Research (SIETAR Japan)."

As part of the initiatives of the Tabi to Manabi no Kyogikai *2, which aims to scientifically examine the connection between travel and learning, APU and IBM collaborated to shed light on group learning in short-term overseas training programs. Traditionally, this kind of research has primarily focused on individual learning within small sample sizes, involving a few to several participants. In this study, they targeted the "FIRST" program, a large-scale project-based short-term overseas training program at APU, and analyzed over 200 reflective reports using IBM's AI and the IBM Watson Discovery platform to visualize the group's learning process. By discussing the relationship between Experiential Learning Theory*3 and the Anxiety/Uncertainty Management (AUM) Theory*4, this study proposes effective educational designs for short-term overseas training programs.

In the future, the development and implementation of programs that create meaningful learning, such as proactive attitudes in cross-cultural environments and engagement with groups, even in short-term training programs, is expected to progress intensively and intentionally.

Please check the press release here. (in Japanese only)

FIRST (Freshman Intercultural Relations Study Trip) is a program for APU's freshman students that allows them to travel domestically and internationally during semester breaks. Through interactions and research activities with people they meet for the first time in their destination, students can directly experience Asian cultures and societies. Program details can be found here.

*2: Tabi to Manabi no Kyogikai
The Tabi to Manabi no Kyogikai, established in June 2020 as an independent organization, brings together experts, including DEGUCHI Haruaki, President of Ritsumeikan Asia Pacific University (APU), KOMIYAMA Rieko, Associate Professor at Tokyo Gakugei University, MAENO Takashi, Professor at Keio University Graduate School of System Design and Management, and SAMEJIMA Taku, Professor in the Department of Culture and Tourism at Komazawa Women's University. The organization aims to scientifically validate the benefits of travel from the perspectives of educational technology, happiness studies, and tourism, proposing travel as an integral part of next-generation education. ANA Holdings Co., Ltd. also supports this initiative.

*3: Experiential Learning Theory
A theory proposing a cycle of learning through experience, reflective observation, abstract conceptualization, and active experimentation.

*4: Anxiety/Uncertainty Management (AUM) Theory
A theory that suggests a certain level of anxiety and uncertainty is necessary for cultural adaptation. When anxiety is too high, individuals may fear communication and be unable to predict the behavior of others. On the other hand, when anxiety is too low, they may lose interest in others.

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