Pre-Service Teachers and Study Abroad: A Reflective, Experiential Sojourn to Increase Intercultural Competence and Translate the Experience into Culturally Relevant Pedagogy
Author(s)Roller, Kathleen Marie
Contributor(s)Rhoads, Robert A.
Culturally Relevant Pedagogy
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AbstractThis study used a randomized experimental, mixed methods approach to examine whether a stand-apart course curriculum based on experiential learning theory, Developmental Model of Intercultural Sensitivity (DMIS) theory (Bennett, 1993) and culturally relevant pedagogy influenced students' intercultural competence within the context of a study abroad semester. The methods employed allowed the researcher to measure the intercultural competence of pre-service teachers engaged in an experiential, developmental curriculum both before and after a traditional, semester-long study abroad program using the Intercultural Development Inventory (IDI) developed by Hammer and Bennett (1998). Control groups made up of participants (pre-service teachers) who studied abroad, yet did not receive the curriculum as well as participants (pre-service teachers) who did not study abroad and did not receive the curriculum took the IDI at the start and conclusion of the fall 2011 term. Qualitative and quantitative data sources were analyzed to determine if reasonable summations and conclusions could be made about the intercultural growth and development of the students engaged in the curriculum versus the participants in two control groups. While the quantitative data suggested no statistically significant growth or movement along the DMIS continuum toward a more intercultural mindset, the qualitative responses to the curriculum suggested modest positive gains. The findings from this study affirm that if pre-service teachers participate in study abroad programs with an intentional curriculum designed to encourage reflection upon culture and pedagogy, individual pre-service teachers can become better equipped to work with diverse students in their classrooms. To address implications for practice among faculty in teacher training programs, a model that outlines a new pathway for pre-service teachers to follow as they progress toward becoming an interculturally competent certified teacher is presented. The model presented represents a significant shift in the current paradigm for educating future teachers. Additionally, implications for study abroad practitioners are addressed. International education professionals need to design more intentionally structured environments (formal didactic classroom instruction or experiences) that challenge the growing number of study abroad students to engage in critical reflection, strategic thinking and practical application of lessons learned.