- Year 2022
- NSF Noyce Award # 1949831
- First Name Mike
- Last Name Egan
- Discipline Biological Sciences, Chemistry, Mathematics, Physics
Nathan Frank, Scott Gehler, & Mike Schroeder
Mike Egan & Mike Scarlett, Augustana College; Marty Resner, Drake University
Our project centers on the extent to which a study abroad program that we have developed for pre-service teachers might contribute to our teachers’ development of intercultural competence and culturally responsive pedagogy. It is well established that teachers must develop culturally responsive pedagogies in order to effectively teach increasingly pluralistic students in U.S. schools, particularly in high-need schools (Gay, 2002; King & Butler, 2015; Ladson-Billings, 1994). Promoting the development of cultural competence and culturally responsive pedagogical skill in pre-service teachers has proven to be an ongoing challege in the field of teacher education. The teacher preparation field is still finding its way in terms of implementing programs and courswork that will prepare culturally responsive techers, and it is recognized that this is an area where further innovation and development is needed (Lew & Nelson, 2016; Ramirez et al., 2016). Study abroad has been identified as one promising approach to developing pre-service teachers’ cultural competence (Constantinou, 2015; Kanarowski & Johnston, 2014). In the context of Augustana’s NSF Noyce program, we are curious about how our short-term study abroad program that includes 2 weeks of full-time teaching in a Jamaican high school might contribute to the development of pre-service STEM teachers specifically.
Augustana College’s POST scholars (funded by NSF Noyce) are strongly encouraged, but not required, to participate in Augustana’s study abroad program in Jamaica. This program includes an intensive, two-week teaching internship in a partnering Jamaican school. With this backdrop, three main questions about the program emerge: (1) To what extent does participation in the study abroad program contribute to these pre-service teachers’ development of culturally responsive pedagogical knowledge, skills, and dispositions? (2) Is there evidence that study abroad participants have a deeper appreciation of and comfort with constructing and enacting teaching strategies that actively respond to student culture than non-participants? (3) Is there evidence that insights related to culturally responsive pedagogy that are developed during the study away experience are transferable to subsequent domestic teaching situations?
Given the small scope of our POST scholarship program (we average 4 scholars per year; our program began in 2020 and have thus had a total of 12 scholars up until this point), we recognize that it will be impossible to claim that any findings related to this inquiry will be generalizable. Still, we see value in investigating the questions listed above, and we feel that whatever findings we do uncover will be useful to us as we continue to refine our program, and can be usefully informative to others in the field that may be considering developing their own study abroad programs for pre-service teachers. We are incorporating a qualitative approach to Questions (1) and (3) above, finding evidence related to these questions via student interviews and also student writing in related assignments. In terms of comparing study abroad participants vs. non-participants (Question (2)), we will examine pre- and post-responses for POST scholars on two instruments that all of our scholars complete in the summer before their junior year in college and then again in the days leading up to their graduation: the Culturally Responsive Teaching Outcome Expectancy Scale and the Color Blind Racial Attitude Scale. Since the study abroad experience will happen at some point between the pre-survey and the post-survey, we will be positioned to compare responses between POST scholars that participated in the Jamaican experience with those that did not.
Just as the promotion of culturally responsive teaching skill in pre-service teachers is a nationwide imperative, it is certainly a high priority in our teacher education program at Augustana College. By investigating the extent to which our study abroad program might contribute to that effort in general, and with our future STEM teachers in POST specifically, we believe that this investigation represents one important step in the ongoing evaluation of our teacher education program and our POST scholarship program. If we do find evidence that the Jamaica Program helps our students grow and culturally responsive educators, then we will be positioned to consider expanding the program in order to invite more participants, and also to consider if we should move from making the program optional for POST scholars toward making it a requirement.
As established earlier, teacher education programs all over the country are actively searching for ways to better prepare their pre-service teachers to engage K-12 students in culturally responsive ways. Teaching programs abroad may represent one helpful approach in this larger effort, though more evidence to support this claim. By sharing our own experiences and related evidence, we hope to contribute to this broader discussion in the field. At the moment, our next steps involve gathering evidence related to the impact our program has had on our teacher candidates (see Guiding Questions and Approach), and also to connect with others in the field that either already have active study abroad programs or are giving thought to developing them. A poster session at the 2022 Noyce Summit will be helpful with the latter goal.