Polytechnic University of Valencia Congress, Fourth International Conference on Higher Education Advances

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The intercultural competence of preservice teachers: An exploratory study
Denise Beutel, Donna Tangen

Last modified: 07-05-2018


This paper presents the findings of a qualitative study that explored the impact that prior intercultural experiences have in shaping preservice teachers as teachers of diversity. An online qualitative questionnaire was used to collect data from preservice teachers (n=40) enrolled in a one year graduate entry teacher education program in eastern Australia. Hammer’s (2009, 2011) Intercultural Development Continuum (IDC) was used as a framework to analyse the data. The IDC is a model of intercultural competence used to explain how people interpret cultural difference (Hammer, Bennett & Wiseman, 2003).  Each of the five positions on the continuum has a distinct set of perceptions and experiences around cultural differences. In presenting the results, we draw on several cases that encompass the breadth of prior intercultural experiences of the preservice teachers.  Overall, the results indicate that sustained intercultural engagement over time provides opportunity for the development of greater intercultural sensitivity. While it is advocated that teacher education is well-positioned to play a key role in developing the intercultural comptetences of future teachers, the paper highlights the challenges in providing learning opportunities that allow preservice teachers to  practice new ideas, challenge old ideas and reflect on the process of becoming inclusive educators.

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