Differences that matter
This case study explored examples of pre-service teachers’ learning when experiencing discontinuity and (re)positioning themselves in various professional communities and cultures during an international teaching internship. Pre-service teachers’ experiences of discontinuity were defined as boundary experiences, when challenging or problematic socio-cultural differences significantly influenced their (inter)actions. Pre-service teachers’ attempts to (re)position themselves in the unfamiliar professional and cultural contexts are described as a state of continuity and examples of boundary crossing. Learning mechanisms of identification, coordination, reflection and transformation in the theory of boundary crossing were used to analyze 15 boundary experiences. The four learning mechanisms provided insight into how a multi-level approach (including personal, professional and cultural aspects) gives a more nuanced perspective on the dominant adjustment paradigm. The value of a boundary experience for preservice teachers’ learning during an international teaching experience resided mostly in raising awareness of existing, often taken-for-granted, personal and professional beliefs and their ability to switch between cultural and professional perspectives. The 15 boundary experiences in this study suggest that educators could focus more on pre-service teachers’ coping strategies, existential questions and cultural negotiation when they experience discontinuity, in addition to the current focus on learning outcomes, transformations, or cultural fit.
|Published in||International Journal of Intercultural Relations|
|Year and volume||64 May 2018|
|Key words||boundary experience, boundary crossing, discontinuity, intercultural learning, international teaching internship, pre-service teacher|