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Title: Learning in gap year travel (GYT)
Author: Johan, Novie
Awarding Body: University of Surrey
Current Institution: University of Surrey
Date of Award: 2014
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The main purposes of this study are 1) to define what gap year travel is, to research 2) what gappers (i.e. gap year participants) learn (i.e. the outcomes of gap year travel learning) and 3) how they learn (i.e. the processes of gap year travel learning). This is in order to investigate the effects of gap year travel experiences on personal development and self-growth. This study examines the phenomenon of gap year travel and its relationships with the concepts of mobility, identity, youth transition and individual learning using literature from tourism, youth studies and learning theory. It acknowledges the importance of understanding the complexity of the transition from childhood-to-adulthood and from school-to-work in a dynamic and multicultural world, especially for young gappers who choose to embark on gap year travel. Using a research design based on in -depth semi-structured interviews, data were collected from 27 young gappers of age 17-30 years in the South East of England in Spring 2009. The findings suggests that gap year travel is a form of mobility that helps young people manage the transition from their childhood to their adulthood and ease their transition from school to Higher Education or between employment. Gap year travel does so by allowing the participants space, time and freedom which often contrasts with circumstances for them back home and offering a space where learning is allowed to occur and influence the gappers' personal and sometimes professional development in some cases. This study provides three main contributions. First, the study starts by clarifying the definition of gap year travel for the purpose of the research using definitions made by other scholars and the findings of a preliminary study. Using this definition, the study proceeded to research the outcomes and process of gap year travel learning. Second, the main outcomes of gap year travel learning revealed by the research are self-understanding, relationship building and lire management. It was found that the gappers felt they had become more confident, independent, responsible and open-minded as a result of their trips. Furthermore, the findings suggest that the gappers learned how to manage their time, finances and well-being, as well as learning how to build awareness of and foundations for their relationships with others, i.e. their family, friend s and other gappers, as well as but to a lesser extent locals. While reflecting on their past and present experiences, gappers also spoke about the effect gap year travel had on how they saw their future, e.g. their academic studies, career and lifestyle. The experiential and transformative dimensions of Gap Year Travel Learning are revealed through the application of Experiential Learning Theory (Kolb, 1984) and Transformative Learning Theory (Mezirow, 1991) to analyse the gappers' learning. As far as the processes of learning are concerned, the stages and steps suggested by Kolb ( 1984) and Mezirow (199 1) are applicable to gap year travel learning, although some important variations do occur. Finally, the third main contribution this study offers in this regard is a model of the gap year travel learning. The model illustrates six main steps of gap year travel learning: 1) experiencing; 2) internal dialoguing (self-reflecting); 3) external dialoguing (discussing with others); 4) abstracting; 5) changing; 6) adapting. These various stages in the process are further organized as two learning cycles of gap year travel: gap year travel learning cycle I (experiencing, self-reflecting and discussing with others) and gap year travel learning cycle 2 (abstracting, changing and adapting). A much simplified form of the model of gap year travel learning process is also offered for practitioner use, i.e: 'action; dialogue; cognition, adjustment' . In essence, this study asserts that the gap year travel experience and tbe associated process of gap year travel learning can enhance learning in ways that contribute to the gappers' career, academic and life development during an important transitional stage of their lives. Findings of this study could be useful to gappers themselves, the parents of the gappers, gap year travel companies, educational institutions (high school institutions and higher education institutions), and companies hiring or employing gapers or ex-gappers.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available