Asymmetric learning in a short-term, macro-oriented international students’ exchange: an exploratory study Academic Article uri icon


  • International social work organizations’ call for a Global Agenda for Social Work and Social Development emphasizes promotion of social justice-oriented policies. A major challenge for international student exchange programs, especially when the visitors are from affluent countries, is to overcome the asymmetric process of the relative lack of power, in student hosts’ in comparison to student visitors’ relationships, as well as to focus on macro-practice orientation. Through analyzing a case study of student exchange, we propose a set of pedagogical strategies that may help to overcome these challenges through using processes of mirroring to address this asymmetric situation. This exploratory research is based on a three-year assessment of a short-term, macro-oriented MSW travel study course between graduate students from two universities (in the US and in Israel) using an exchange framework. It includes a comparison of joint experiences of students using both written and arts-based data. The findings demonstrate that the use of relationship building and mirroring enables both hosts and guests to learn about their own macro-reality through the eyes of the others and helps diffuse asymmetry and create relationships not only on the micro-, but also macro-levels. Implications for teaching methods in international courses are discussed.

publication date

  • January 1, 2017