Students examine benefits of virtual exchange programs

Stuart Case and Sarah Collins
Stuart Case and Sarah Collins

University of Florida College of Public Health and Health Professions students Stuart Case and Sarah Collins co-authored an article with alumna and former UF professor Elizabeth Wood, D.H.S., M.P.H., on global virtual exchange that appears in Frontiers in Public Health.

Their research focused on public health students who had participated in a virtual exchange program with students in Egypt and followed up with them one year after the program. The authors sought to determine if the virtual exchange resulted in positive behavior changes pertaining to intercultural competency while also examining how virtual exchange programs can be improved upon in the future.

Their analysis found that students were able to apply lessons they learned during the virtual exchange within a one-year follow-up period.

“Results from this study indicate the need for structure when conducting a VE, addressing the need to increase the number of direct interactions and thereby promoting more intercultural exchanges,” the authors write. “Likewise, the interviews demonstrated that changes in course instruction need to be implemented gradually to allow for students to adjust to unfamiliar teaching methods.”

Case is a student in the college’s combination Bachelor of Public Health/Master of Public Health program and Collins is a public health doctoral student in the social and behavioral science concentration.