Source: Teaching and Teacher Education, Volume 24, Issue 1, January 2008, Pages 14-25
This study addresses the question, “What is the impact of an international field experience on preservice teachers” and corroborates many of the findings of a similar study by Willard-Holt [(2001). The impact of a short-term international experience for preservice teachers. Teaching and Teacher Education, 17, 505–517].
In May 2005, 15 teacher education students from the US completed a 4-week international practicum, working in the classroom with teachers and students at a private international primary through secondary (K12) school in Rome, Italy. Data include preservice teachers’ reflections and comments collected from their personal journals, focus groups with supervisors, observation notes, a final reflection paper, course evaluations, and a questionnaire completed 1 year after the experience to assess any lasting impact the trip may have had on them as individuals and future teachers.
While there were a few negative experiences, the results indicate that overall the benefits included both professional and personal changes, such as increased confidence, a better appreciation and respect for differences of others and other cultures, and an awareness of the importance that feedback and reflection play in professional and personal growth. The article concludes with recommendations on how to improve such experiences to enhance the personal growth and cross-cultural competency of preservice teachers.