Stepping Out of the Comfort Zone’: Pre-Service Teachers’ Reflections on International Service-Learning


Within the field of teacher education, international service-learning (ISL) provides a unique opportunity to help future graduates develop intercultural awareness and competencies. This is significant given the diverse range of cultural backgrounds found in many Australian schools, and particularly in many major urban settings. With a depth of experience in the area of ISL, the presenter’s previous research has revealed the potential danger of these cross-cultural experiences to perpetuate, rather than challenge stereotypes and ethnocentric viewpoints, which accentuates the importance of research that considers not only students’ learning experiences, but also the theoretical underpinnings and pedagogical practices implemented in these programs. In this presentation, I will present a recent case study of Australian pre-service teachers abroad on a short-term ISL and cultural program focused in the area of Teaching English as a Second Language (TESL). The presentation will discuss the pedagogical practices implemented to scaffold students’ learning and critical self-reflection in relation to the themes of challenging cultural stereotypes and developing intercultural awareness. Drawing from narrative inquiry, the students’ reflections will be analysed with regards to their learning experiences, as well as competing discourses in the internationalisation of higher education. The analysis uncovers the (transformative) potential, as well as precariousness of students ‘stepping out of the comfort zone’ in these short-term cross-cultural experiences. The presentation concludes with a preliminary discussion of a larger study stemming from this work, centred on examining pedagogical innovation in ISL in higher education.

Author Information
Son Truong, Western Sydney University, Australia

Paper Information
Conference: ACE2015
Stream: Student learning

This paper is part of the ACE2015 Conference Proceedings (View)
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Posted by James Alexander Gordon