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Crossing the date-line: Perspectives of Canadian students studying education in an Australian university

Dann, C., Allen, B. and Readman, K. (2009) Crossing the date-line: Perspectives of Canadian students studying education in an Australian university. In: Teacher education crossing borders: Cultures, contexts, communities and curriculum: Annual Conference of the Australian Teacher Education Association (ATEA), 28 Jun - 1 Jul 2009, Albury, NSW

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The research reported here aims to develop understandings around the expectations and perceptions of Canadian students entering a Graduate Diploma of Education program in an Australian university. The study align well with the theme of "crossing borders", as the study focuses on international students "crossing borders" to achieve their accreditation goals in another country. The particular context of this research is a sizeable cohort (90-100 annually) of Canadian students who attend an Australian regional university to gain a teaching qualification. Based on the theoretical perspective of interpretivism, the study employed qualitative methods to understand the expectations and perspectives of the students early in, and during their progress through the program. Data were collected using semi-structured interviews: researchers conducted three interviews with each participant across the first six months of the students" year long stay. The "moments" of each interview were: (i) prior to attending their first week of lectures; (ii) after they had completed the first lecture series of four courses; and (iii) after participants completed their first block of practical experience in an Australian school. The data was then analysed using constant interrogation and context theory. This report is based on the initial findings of these interviews and identifies the themes and understandings expressed by the Canadian students who have "crossed the date line". The findings will be presented in four main themes that have emerged from the data: personal growth; cultural experiences; development of teacher identity; and the implications for university programs. Collectively the data highlight the concepts of global perspectives, the internationalization of university programs, and the issues of teacher identity. As the participants developed their ideas and understandings about themselves within the program, further confirmation was gained to suggest that participants entered the program with this perspective. Participants also demonstrated an intention to develop a clearly independent personal and professional identity for themselves and saw the year of study abroad as an opportunity to explore their own personal strengths and weaknesses. This corresponds with Geijsel and Meijers (2005) definition of identity and the implications of the development of identity seen through the data. Finally the initial findings indicate that universities accepting international students into their programs have a broad range of professional and ethical responsibilities in the development of global teachers with a global perspective. With regard to the case study university, the findings suggest that Australian universities which invite international students tend to rely on individual students developing a global perspective rather than adding to or enhancing this perspective.

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