Insight for Teacher Preparation Program Administrators: Enhancing Pre-service Educators’ Intercultural Sensitivity and Deep Proficiency in Culturally Responsive Teaching through Short-term Study Abroad

Gloria J. Gresham, Paula Griffin, Tracey Hasbun, Vikki Boatman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Teacher preparation program administrators face the issue of expanding curricula to prepare teacher candidates for the diverse population of students they will encounter (Trent, Kea, Oh, 2008). Globalization demands that teacher candidates grasp how to function in a more integrated and interdependent society (McGrew, 2005). According to Smith-Davis (2004) students from non-English speaking countries compose the fastest growing United States K-12 student population, and those identified as limited English proficient were over 10 million in 2004. The United States Census reported in the ''New Census Bureau Report" the number of individuals five and older who speak languages other than English at home more than doubled in the past three decades (2010). If teacher preparation program leaders fail to prepare future educators with the dispositions, knowledge, and skills necessary to meet the needs of the nation's school population, the national security and economic development may be hindered, and the position of the United States in the world community may be challenged (Zanh, 2011).

Teacher preparation program leaders are faced with how to strengthen "teacher candidates' level of intercultural sensitivity"and to prepare them to implement culturally responsive pedagogy through course content and other activities (Lin, Lake, & Rice, 2008, p. 188). Integrating multicultural education throughout all courses instead of adding a stand-alone course dedicated to cultural awareness and instruction is one manner to enhance candidates' level of intercultural sensitivity, and this means is supported by many researchers (Cochran-Smith, Davis, & Fries, 2004). Another way to heighten intercultural sensitivity and gain skill in delivering culturally-responsive teaching

strategies is through cross-cultural experiences (Foster, 1995; Gay, 2000; McAllister & Irving, 2002; Nieto, 2006). One such cross-cultural experience that deans, department heads, and faculty may explore is short-term study abroad. Short-term study abroad is more affordable and attractive to university students who cannot or will not commit to a semester or yearlong study abroad experience (Donnelly-Smith, 2009). As defined by Donnelly-Smith (2009), short-term study abroad experiences are those where students participate for fewer than eight weeks. These experiences have the potential of positively impacting teacher candidates' intercultural sensitivity (Lawton et al., 2006). DonnellySmith stated that little formal research was displayed in the literature that described study abroad outcomes (2009).

The purpose of this paper is to reveal how a short-term study abroad experience affected teacher candidates from a Texas regional university, and thus enhanced their intercultural sensitivity and deepened their knowledge and skill in culturally-responsive teaching strategies. This study was unique from other studies presented in the literature because the focus was how another country implements early childhood education and prepares future teachers. Teacher candidates were afforded an opportunity to compare Italy's early childhood education system to the system they were more familiar with in the United States.

Original languageUndefined/Unknown
JournalFaculty Publications
StatePublished - Jan 1 2014

Cite this