Source: Teacher Education Quarterly, Vol. 42, No. 4, Fall 2015
(Reviewed by the Portal Team)
The current study explored the influence of a university-based student teaching program in rural East Africa on the beliefs of four preservice teacher participants.Specifically, the study examined the teachers’ perspectives on their overall preparedness, cultural responsiveness, and understanding of education in a global context.
A multiple case study methodology was used to construct and frame participant experiences.
The participants were four preservice teachers participated in the East African student teaching program through a partnership with a large Western university. All preservice participants identified as White, middleclass individuals between the ages of 18 and 22 years. All had completed part of their student teaching in a Western city and part of their student teaching (8 weeks) in East Africa.
Data were collected through semi-structured interviews and weblogs.
The findings reveal that the student teaching program in East Africa provided direct opportunities to inform the beliefs of preservice student participants. The authors argue that in some ways, the student teaching in East reinforced stereotypes and deficit-based perspectives about education, preparation, and privilege.
However, all participants noted an appreciation or empathy for second-language learners as a result of having to work with learners who spoke a different kind of English. All participants continued to maintain ties to students, staff, and coordinators of the East African student teaching program. Finally, the findings reveal that the East African student teaching program influenced preservice teacher beliefs regarding (a) culturally relevant instruction, (b) overall preparedness to teach, and (c) the global context of education.
The participants' reflections have provided several implications for the East African student teaching program at large, despite the study has focused on four preservice teachers who student-taught in East Africa. The findings rveal that opportunities to engage in deep reflection after the 8 weeks may be critical to shaping teacher beliefs. Therefore, the East African student teaching program would benefit from more opportunities to engage preservice teacher participants in activities that promote deep reflection.
Second, many of the teachers were concerned by the financial hardship as an issue both in participating in the program and also in rushing to find employment after completing their certification program. It is essential for programs to begin offering more financial assistance to students to diversify the kinds of applicants who participate in international student teaching programs.
Next, some intercultural student teaching programs have benefitted from instruction on language. The authors recommend that building in information about how the English spoken at the East African student teaching site differed from standard American English might also have been useful for participants prior to their departure.
Furthermore, it is important to consider the ethical implications of sending preservice teachers to a remote village in East Africa without language and historical/ teaching program, very little context was given, and some participants returned with deficit-based views of the East African village’s educational system as well as their role in educating youths from the East African country.
In conclusion, this article has presented the perspectives of four participants who student-taught in East Africa for 8 weeks as part of their student teaching requirement at a Western university. Each of the participants had unique and valuable experiences that shaped the ways in which he or she worked to become an educator in a rural East African community. The authors argue that the program shaped the participants' beliefs about teaching and continues to be an experience they reflect on in their lives.