A Global View of Education: An International Experience for Future Teachers

Andrea Kent and Rebecca M. Giles
Leadership and Teacher Education, University of South Alabama

In effort to make global education a more dominant piece to undergraduate experiences, both the federal government and institutions of higher education have increased their investment by providing more scholarship money for study abroad opportunities (Lincoln Commission, 2005; Green, Luu, & Burris, 2008). While there have been mixed reviews on the effects of study abroad on improving the intercultural skills of all participants, (Lincoln Commission, 2005; NAFSA, 2003; Vande Berg, 2003, 2007; Woolf, 2007), it can be postulated that the specific characteristics of the participants make the difference on the impact of the international educational experience.

As with other professional occupations, intercultural competence has become increasingly important in preparing future teachers for multicultural classrooms. Intercultural competence is necessary as teachers consider the importance of culture and how it impacts the teaching and learning process. Diversity in the classroom presents both unique opportunities and challenges, and preservice teachers must have structured opportunities to enhance their knowledge paradigms, and perspectives of both local and international cultures.

This presentation will describe a case study of two preservice candidates in K-6 Teacher Education who completed a field-based course for early childhood certification which included an overseas placement. The participants completed 40 hours locally and 40 hours in nursery schools in Glasgow, Scotland. The participants compared all of their field experiences and determined strengths and challenges of the varying educational experiences. The participants revealed that their experiences lead them to a new awareness of different educational systems, and how culture impacted the system.