22 SES 06 A, Internationalisation: Student learning and mobility
Internationalization has often been suggested as a key aspect of higher education. Accordingly, the need for more internationalization is voiced repeatedly. One the one hand, more students should be sent on mobilities. On the other hand, internationalization should also be implemented on home grounds. Both calls have their merits and are readily endorsed by educators, scholars, practitioners, and policymakers. Nevertheless, internationalization needs to be bolstered by on a solid empirical basis. Unfortunately, studies addressing the benefits of mobilities rarely differentiate between study majors, thereby ignoring that students of different study majors may have very different needs, face different challenges, and have different opportunities’ to learn on mobility.
This becomes especially apparent in teacher education. In European recommendations for student mobility, teacher education is the only study major explicitly named (cf. EHEA, 2015). This may be due to that fact that prospective teachers are able to profit better from the heterogeneity of school classes (e.g. Wiggins, Follo & Eberly, 2007) as well as experiencing cultural differences in school systems (e.g. Leutwyler & Lottenbach, 2008). In line with this reasoning, studies specifically designed to address mobilities of students in teacher education suggest that students profit greatly from experiencing different school system (Krammer, Vogl, Linhofer & Weitlaner, 2016). Such a benefit is unique to teacher education.
Another key argument emphasizing the need for student mobility is that students enjoy greater employability after having experienced student mobility compared to students who have not (European Union, 2014). In the European context, these findings are often based on the “Erasmus Impact Study” (European Union, 2014). However, the Erasmus Impact Study argues the better employability by an influence on personality traits (memo© factors: CHE Consult, 2014) for which no body of literature exists tying these personality traits to studies on personality traits and educational success (e.g. Poropat, 2009). The relevance of these specific personality traits for teacher education is also scarce (Vogl, Krammer, Linhofer & Weitlaner, 2016). Arguing the greater employability should therefore also take the study major into account, and should ideally be related to traits tied to large bodies of literature (e.g. the Big Five factors: Costa & MacCrae, 1992).
Therefore, the current study aims to address the relevance of student mobility while taking into account the specific student major of the students, i.e. teacher education. Learning opportunities play a vital role for student mobility (e.g. Messelink, Van Maele & Spencer-Oatey, 2015). We argue that for teacher education, student mobility offers and needs learning opportunities unique to the teacher education and profession. We further argue that students in teacher education should also profit from student mobility by effects on personality traits relevant for their future profession such as openness and emotional stability (Vogl et al., 2016).
To address these research questions, qualitative and quantitative data were collected from students in teacher education with and without having been on mobility. For the qualitative data, students’ reflections on their student mobility were analyzed. To this end, 28 students reflected on their stay abroad in academic, cultural, and social terms. In order to assess the presented learning opportunities, students were also asked: “Did you gain any learning experiences you wouldn’t have gained without staying abroad?” and to specifically address the benefits for the prospective teaching profession, they were asked: “Do you think studying abroad provided benefits for your future job (as a teacher)?”. The content of the reflexions was analysed by a qualitative content analysis (Mayring, 2015) in accordance with previous studies on teacher education students learning opportunities on mobility (cf. Krammer et al., 2016). For the quantitative data, the Big Five personality traits (NEO-FFI: Borkenau & Ostendorf, 2008) of 25 students before and after their mobility were measured. Additionally, a control group was also tested in the same time interval. The students of the control group were matched regarding age, gender, semester, subject and study programme (e.g. teacher education for primary school).
The analyses of the qualitative data showed that students in teacher education most frequently had learning opportunities through experiencing a different educational system, social learning opportunities, and experiencing different cultures. The latter two are learning opportunities from which students can profit irrespectively of their study majors. Especially experiencing different educational system was defined by the possibilities to experience new school systems. Seen in a broader scope, experiencing new school systems may even be an important resource for fostering an inclusive attitude among prospective teachers. The analyses of the quantitative data showed that teacher education students profited from their mobility in regard to their personality traits. The largest effects were for openness (d = 0.45) and conscientiousness (d = 0.23), and small effects for extraversion, emotional stability, and agreeableness (d = 0.15, 0.13, and 0.08, respectively).Effects were up to a medium effect size, and all effects were favorable. Taken together, even the small effects should not be neglected, as there may be a cumulative effect of the sum of all the effects. In summary, the current study offers empirical evidence suggesting the importance of student mobility by creating unique learning opportunities and fostering favorable personality traits. This importance is shown concerning to specificities of the teacher education, which may even have a long-lasting effect on the future education of all Europeans.
Borkenau, P. & Ostendorf, F. (2008). NEO-Fünf-Faktoren Inventar nach Costa und McCrae (NEO-FFI). Manual (2., neu normierte und vollständig überarbeitete Auflage). Göttingen: Hogrefe. CHE Consult. (2014). memo: About memo©. Retrieved January 8, 2016, from http://www.memo-tool.net/about-memoc/about-memoc/. Costa, P. T., & MacCrae, R. R. (1992). NEO PI-R: Professional Kit: Revised NEO Personality Inventory (NEO-PI-R) and NEO Five-Factor Inventory (NEO-FFI). Odessa, Fl.: Psychological Assessment Resources. European Higher Education Area (EHEA). (2015). Yerevan Ministerial Communiqué. Yerevan: EHEA. Retrieved from http://bologna-yerevan2015.ehea.info/files/YerevanCommuniqueFinal.pdf European Union. (2014). The Erasmus Impact Study. Effects of mobility on the skills and employability of students and the internationalisation of higher education institutions. Luxembourg: Publications Office of the European Union. Retrieved January 8, 2016, from http://ec.europa.eu/education/library/study/2014/erasmus-impact_en.pdf. Krammer, G., Vogl, H., Linhofer, S. & Weitlaner, R. (2016). Learning Opportunities Provided by Erasmus as Mobility Programme in Teacher Education. In O. Holz, M. Aleksandrovich & H. Zoglowek (Hrsg.), Current Trends in Higher Education in Europe (pp. 279-288). Berlin: LIT Verlag. Leutwyler, B., & Lottenbach, S. (2008). Der lehrerbildungsspezifische Nutzen von Mobilitätsprogrammen. Forschungsbericht. Zug: PHZ-IZB. Mayring, P. (2015). Qualitative Inhaltsanalyse: Grundlagen und Techniken. Weinheim u.a.: Beltz. Messelink, H. E., Van Maele, J., & Spencer-Oatey, H. (2015). Intercultural competencies: what students in study and placement mobility should be learning. Intercultural Education, 26, 62-72. Poropat, A. E. (2009). A meta-analysis of the five-factor model of personality and academic performance. Psychological bulletin, 135(2), 322. Vogl, H., Krammer, G., Linhofer, S. & Weitlaner, R. (2016). Erasmus+ Course - International Teacher Competences: a successful concept of internationalization at the University College of Teacher Education Styria. In E. Messner, D. Worek, & M. Peček (Hrsg), Teacher Education for Multilingual and Multicultural Settings (pp. 155-167). Graz: Leykam. Wiggins, R. A., Follo, E. J., & Eberly, M. B. (2007). The impact of a field immersion program on pre-service teachers’ attitudes toward teaching in culturally diverse classrooms. Teaching and Teacher Education, 23, 653-663.
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