A qualitative evaluation of a visiting scholar program between Brazil and Canada

Judy Ellen Mill, Leanne C Johnson, Isabel Amelia Costa Mendes, Carla A. Arena Ventura, Emanuele Seicenti Brito


Background: International experiences provide a rich, transformative learning opportunity and are fundamental to the internationalization of universities that is occuring globally. To date there has been limited research to evaluate the experiences of, and benefits to, faculty members who participate in an international experience. In the current paper, we report findings from the evaluation of a Visiting Scholar Program (VSP) between the University of São Paulo at Ribeirão Preto College of Nursing (EERP-USP), Brazil and the Faculty of Nursing, University of Alberta (UA), Canada. The VSP was initiated in 2004, with a generous donation from a private donor, as one component of a broader partnership between the two university schools of nursing.

Methods: The evaluation of the VSP program was carried out between January and June 2011 using a qualitative approach. An interpretative descriptive design was used for the study and in-depth interviews were used to collect the data. At the UA, 17 individuals affiliated with the Brazil project participated in an interview and two provided email feedback. At EERP-USP, 12 former scholars, one graduate student, two staff members responsible for the International Cooperation Office, and a former Dean participated in the evaluation.

Results: Several key themes emerged during the analysis of the interviews. The program was highly successful from the perspective of both scholars and supervisors alike. The commitment to internationalization at each site, the well-
established partnership between EERP-USP and UA, and the financial resources available all contributed to the provision of a supportive, enabling environment for the scholars to develop their own research capacity and for both scholars and supervisors to build new research networks. Participants commented on the importance of personal relationships and convergent research interests between scholars and the supervisors. Several challenges related to language, length of the program, and at times, inadequate pre-planning between the scholar and supervisor were identified by participants.

Conclusion: Overall the leadership team at each site and the scholars and supervisors believed that the VSP was successful. Despite several challenges, supervisors and scholars alike benefited from ongoing relationships and were appreciative of the opportunities for professional growth and research development that participation in the VSP program provided. Recommendations for future similar programs include: commitment to internationalization; a well-established partnership between the two sites; sufficient financial resources; language training; a 12 month program if possible; good fit between scholar and supervisor; and pre-planning.


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DOI: https://doi.org/10.5430/jnep.v4n3p252

Journal of Nursing Education and Practice

ISSN 1925-4040 (Print)   ISSN 1925-4059 (Online)

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