Teaching, Reflecting and Learning: Exploring Teacher Education Study Abroad Programs as Transformational Learning Opportunities

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Pedagogy and pedagogical challenges




An essential goal of teacher education is to reveal cultural blindness, bias that may be hidden from preservice teachers’ awareness. This may include unintentional biases, misunderstandings, and stereotypes, which can affect what happens in the classroom. Transformational learning through cultural immersion experiences can reveal what is hidden, allowing students to critically reflect and revise assumptions and perspectives leading to cultural competence and culturally relevant pedagogy. Teacher education study abroad experiences can transform preservice teachers’ ethnocentric worldviews and lead them to adopt more culturally competent mindsets. Reflection is key to participants understanding the impacts from a study abroad experience, and several years may pass before participants realize how much impact their experiences abroad had upon them. We used case study methodology to examine the meanings four teachers make of the long-term effect of a study abroad experience on their cultural awareness and pedagogical decisions. This use of retrospective methods may help to understand that the impacts of teacher education study abroad are difficult to articulate and assess directly after the program, and thus encourage program designers and researchers to provide participants opportunities to venture out of their cultural comfort zones and reflect upon their experiences a year or more after the study abroad program.


© 2019 The Author(s). Licensee IntechOpen. This chapter is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

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