Academic journal article Teacher Education Quarterly

Preservice Teachers' Student Teaching Experiences in East Africa

Academic journal article Teacher Education Quarterly

Preservice Teachers' Student Teaching Experiences in East Africa

Article excerpt

Perhaps travel cannot prevent bigotry, but by demonstrating that all peoples cry, laugh, eat, worry, and die, it can introduce the idea that if we try to understand each other, we may even become friends.

--Maya Angelou

The world is changing. Human mobility is at an all-time high, and globalization is a consequence of that mobility (Haskins, Greenberg, & Fremstad, 2004; Suarez-Orozco, 2001). The influence of globalization can be felt in terms of transnational employment and recruitment, a greater wealth gap between rich and poor, technological advances, and cultural and/or linguistic diversity in schools (Goodwin, 2010). In response to globalization, there has been a surge across higher education institutions to internationalize the curriculum. Although the idea of being globally competent has been given more importance, there is yet to be a consensus on what this means in terms of planning and implementation at the university level (Roberts, 2007). In the field of teacher education, responding to a more diverse set of learners is one of the most important reasons for internationalization (Cushner & Brennan, 2007). Therefore teacher education programs are attempting to place more preservice teachers in more diverse student teaching placements to provide them with this experience before they enter their own classrooms.

Traditionally, a preservice teacher preparation program would require students to spend one to two semesters teaching in local schools under the guidance of an experienced teacher. Conversely, intercultural student teaching programs enable students to supplement or replace such requirements with opportunities to teach internationally. The purpose of such programs is varied but includes language proficiency, increasing cultural sensitivity, providing global connections, and adding a layer of challenge to existing student teaching components (Cushner & Brennan, 2007).

Several studies have been conducted on the experiences of preservice teachers who have traveled overseas (Bryan & Sprague, 1997; Mahan & Stachowski, 1990; Mahon & Cushner, 2002; Quezada & Alfaro, 2007; Stachowski, Richardson, & Henderson, 2003). Each of these studies is briefly discussed, and implications from the studies were used to inform the current study.

Mahan and Stachowski (1990) surveyed 291 students over the course of 9 years to investigate their views about their participation as student teachers in the Overseas Project at Indiana University-Bloomington. These participants were able to articulate more types of learning in every learning category surveyed than those who underwent a traditional student teaching experience. Specifically, 63 students from the Overseas Project were compared to 28 students in the traditional program. Students from the Overseas Project were more likely to report learning related to global issues, classroom strategies, other individuals, curriculum/content usage, and self, even as compared to students who worked in diverse local communities in the United States (Mahan & Stachowski, 1990). The study highlighted the importance of capturing the types of learning student teachers were able to report from their experiences abroad. Because the study utilized a survey, however, there were limitations to the level of deep reflection each participant could provide. Additionally, without an articulation of what each kind of learning meant to individual students, the reader cannot be certain that meaning attributed to learning could be standardized across students.

In contrast, Quezada and Alfaro (2007) captured the self-reflections of four bilingual literacy (biliteracy) teachers who spent time in an international student teaching abroad program in Mexico. Quezada (2005) believed that student teachers who spend time teaching internationally developed a heightened sense of cultural sensitivity and came back viewing the United States from a different perspective. …

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