Does Student Teaching Abroad Affect Teacher Competencies? Perspectives From Iowa School Administrators

Winter 2010

Source: Action in Teacher Education, v. 31 no. 4, (Winter 2010) p. 3-13.
(Reviewed by the Portal Team)

The purpose of this study was to examine how school administrators in the state of Iowa perceive undergraduate teaching majors who obtain their student teaching experience abroad.
Specifically, the authors addressed to the question of whether teacher applicants with student teaching experience abroad are perceived to be more qualified candidates than their colleagues who gained that same experience in the United States.

The goal of this research is to help provide common perceptions on an increasingly important topic as schools strive to meet the needs of their students in an ever-changing global society.


In sum, 138 K-12 principals in the state of Iowa were electronically surveyed to determine their general demographics and personal traits, as well as district and career information.

Respondents were asked to respond to seven questions related to their professional perceptions of teacher candidates with experiences student teaching abroad.


This research helped to validate previous studies addressing the fact that students returned to the United States with an expanded world view, an increased respect for diverse cultures, and more tolerance of educational differences. Although some student teachers might very well gain these dispositions in urban settings anywhere in the United States, student teaching abroad provides an extended lived experience .

Perceptions from Iowa principal also indicate, though not as strongly, an enhanced level of professional competence, personal ambition, and self-confidence, a well as a preparation to embrace unexpected issues that arise in education. When preservice teachers are placed in situations where their comfort zone is challenged, the reflective learning becomes unprecedented; it allows them the increased self-awareness that is vital in building a framework for becoming more self-confident and adaptable.

Updated: Jul. 17, 2011