Transformative Learning in International Short-Term Teach Abroad Programs


  • Patricia Briscoe Niagara University
  • Carmelina Robino Niagara University



Teach abroad program, teacher candidates, vulnerability, transformative learning, culturally responsive teaching


The task of preparing future teachers for diversified classrooms is imperative. We aimed to deepen our understanding of the capacity of international teach abroad programs (TAPs) to prepare Canadian teacher candidates to be more culturally responsive in their classrooms. Data were collected using pre- and post-questionnaires, focus groups, and anecdotal notes during a short-term (two weeks) TAP in the Dominican Republic with Canadian teacher candidates. The findings revealed that participation alone is not enough to develop culturally responsive teachers. Candidates must be challenged, supported, and guided on how to positively develop cultural competence in situations where they feel vulnerable, including purposeful mechanisms to intentionally interrupt and challenge participants’ positionality. Otherwise, at best, the candidates achieve superficial levels of learning that potentially reinforce biases and privilege.

Abstract in Spanish

La tarea de preparar a los futuros docentes para las aulas diversificadas es imperativa. Nosotros apuntamos a profundizar nuestra comprensión de la capacidad de los programas internacionales de enseñanza en el extranjero con el objetivo de  preparar a los profesores candidatos canadienses para que sean más receptivos culturalmente en sus aulas. Los datos se recopilaron mediante cuestionarios de pre-prueba y post-prueba, grupos focales y notas anecdóticas durante un  corto plazo de dos semanas en la República Dominicana con candidatos a docentes canadienses. Los hallazgos revelaron que la participación por sí sola no es suficiente para desarrollar maestros culturalmente receptivos. Los candidatos deben ser desafiados, apoyados y guiados sobre cómo desarrollar positivamente la competencia cultural en situaciones en las que se sienten vulnerables, incluidos mecanismos con propósito para interrumpir y desafiar intencionalmente la posición de los participantes. De lo contrario, en el mejor de los casos, los candidatos alcanzan niveles superficiales de aprendizaje que potencialmente refuerzan los sesgos y los privilegios.


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Author Biographies

Patricia Briscoe, Niagara University

Patricia Briscoe is an Associate Professor in the College of Education at Niagara University. She teaches in the Teacher Education and Masters of Education programs. Her teaching is inspired to facilitate experiential opportunities to increase transformative learning for future teachers and educational leaders. Her research focus is on supporting education and communities in developing countries.

Carmelina Robino, Niagara University

Carmelina Robino is a French Immersion teacher for the Toronto Catholic District SB in Toronto, Canada. She has a degree in Political Science, French, and Italian Studies at the University of Toronto, a Bachelor of Education and Masters of Educational Leadership at Niagara University. Her teaching is inspired to give students authentic learning opportunities that foster culturally responsive and empathetic classroom. Her participation in teach abroad programs has informed her teaching practice and pedagogy.


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How to Cite

Briscoe, P., & Robino, C. (2022). Transformative Learning in International Short-Term Teach Abroad Programs. Frontiers: The Interdisciplinary Journal of Study Abroad, 34(4), 115–143.



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