From the Arctic to the Tropics: A Thematic Analysis of Teacher Candidates’ Reflections of Two Cross-Cultural Programs

  • Laura S. Anderson Lee University, United States
  • Jo Ann B. Higginbotham Lee University, United States
Keywords: culturally responsive teaching, global learning, teacher preparation, intercultural competency, reflective journals, teacher education


This study describes how one university prepares culturally responsive teacher candidates through Alaska and Thailand cross-cultural summer study trips. The study addressed the impact of the Alaska and Thailand cross-cultural experiences on teacher candidates as described in their reflective writings. The reflections addressed their socialization and depth of understanding and appreciation of children and adults from another culture. The authors looked for parallel themes that emerged as characteristics of both experiences.

Author Biographies

Laura S. Anderson, Lee University, United States

Dr. Laura Anderson, Professor of Education, has enjoyed a 28-year tenure at Lee University.   Her research interests are in children’s literature, literacy, and cross-cultural experiences.

Jo Ann B. Higginbotham, Lee University, United States

Dr. Jo Ann Higginbotham, Professor of Education, has taught at Lee University for 40 years. Her research interests include children’s literature and literacy, teaching diverse learners, arts integration, and cross-cultural experiences.


Anderson, J. (2012). Reflective journals as a tool for auto-ethnographic learning: A case study of student experiences with individualized sustainability. Journal of Geography in Higher Education, 36(4), 613-623.
Armstrong, N. F. (2008). Teacher education in a global society: Facilitating global literacy for preservice candidates through international field experiences. Teacher Education and Practice, 21(4), 490-506. Retrieved from
Clandinin, D. J., & Connelly, F. M. (2000). Narrative inquiry: Experience and story in Qualitative Research. Jossey-Bass Publishers. 107134
Clement, M. C., & Outlaw, M. E. (2002). Student teaching abroad: Learning about teaching, culture, and self. Kappa Delta Pi Record, 38(4), 180-183.
Cushner, K. (2009). Human diversity in education: An integrative approach. McGraw-Hill. Denzin, N. K. & Lincoln, Y. S. (Eds.), Handbook of Qualitative Research. 118-137.
DeVillar, R. A., & Jiang, B. (2012). From student teaching abroad to teaching in the U.S. classroom: Effects of global experiences on local instructional practice. Teacher Education Quarterly, 39(3), 7-24. Retrieved from
Dunlap, J. C. (2006). Using guided reflective journaling activities to capture students’ changing perceptions. TechTrends, 50(6), 20-26.
Dyment, J. E., & O’Connell, T. S. (2011). Assessing the quality of reflection in student journals: A review of the research. Teaching in Higher Education, 16(1), 81-97.
Entwistle, N. (1997). Contrasting perspectives on learning. In F. Martan, D. Hounsell, & N. Entwistle (Eds.), The experience of learning: Implications for teaching and studying in higher education (2nd ed. Pp. 3-22). Scottish Academic Press.
Farabaugh, R. (2007). ‘The isle is full of noises’: Using wiki software to establish a discourse community in a Shakespeare classroom. Language Awareness, 16(1), 41-56. https://doi. org/10.2167/la428.0
Fry, G. W., Paige, R. M., Joh, J. Dillow, J., & Nam, K. (2009). Study abroad and its transformative power. Occasional Papers: On International Educational Exchange, 32. Retrieved from
Garcia, E., Arias, M. B., Harris Murri, N. J., & Serna, C. (2009). Developing responsive teachers: A challenge for a demographic reality. Journal of Teacher Education, 61(1-2), 132-142.
Geertz, C. (1973). The Interpretation of Cultures: Selected Essays. Basic Books.
Guba, E. G., & Lincoln, Y. S. (1994). Competing paradigms in qualitative research. Handbook of qualitative research (pp. 105-117). SAGE Publications. Retrieved from
Holstein, J. A., & Gubrium, J. F. (1994). Phenomenology, ethnomethodology, and interpretive practice. In N.K. Denzin, & Y. S. Lincoln (Eds.), Handbook of qualitative research (pp. 262- 272). SAGE Publications
Jackson, P. W. (ed.) (1992). Handbook of research on curriculum: A project of the American Educational Research Association. Macmillan Publications.
Larson, L., & Brown, J. S. (July-Sept 2017). Preparing global-ready teachers. Kappa Delta Pi record, 53, 110-115.
Lee, J. (2011). International field experience: What do student teachers learn? Australian Journal of Teacher Education, 36(10), 1-22.
Longview Foundation. (2008). Teacher preparation for the global age: The imperative for change. Retrieved from
Lonner, W. J., & Hayes, S. A. (2004). Understanding the cognitive and social aspects of intercultural competence. In R.J. Sternbert, & E.L. Grigorenko (Eds.), Culture and competence: Contexts of life success, 89-110. American Psychological Association.
Mansilla, V. B., & Jackson, A. W. (2014). Educating for global competence: Redefining learning for an interconnected world. In H. H. Jacob (Ed.), Mastering global literacy, 5-29. Solution Tree Publications. Retrieved from
Moon, J. (2006). Learning journals: A handbook for reflective practice and professional development (2nd ed.). Routledge Falmer Publications.
Quezada, R. (2004). Beyond educational tourism: Lessons learned while student teaching abroad. International Education Journal, 5(4), 458-465.Retrieved from
Quezada, R. L., & Alfaro, C. (2007). Biliteracy teachers’ self-reflections of their accounts while student teaching abroad: Speaking from “the other side.” Teacher Education Quarterly, 34(1), 95-113. Retrieved from
Savicki, V. (2010). Implications of early sociocultural adaptation for study abroad students. Frontiers: The International Journal of Study Abroad, 19, 205-223.
Schon, D. A. (1983). The reflective practitioner: How professionals think in action. Basic Books. Schon, D. A. (1987). Educating the reflective practitioner. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.
Schon, A. (1992). The reflective turn: Case studies in reflective practice. Teachers College Press.
Schwandt, T. A. (1994). Constructivist, interpretivist approaches to human inquiry. In N. Denzin, & Y. Lincoln (Ed.) (1994). The Landscape of Qualitative Research: Theories and Issues (pp. 221-259). SAGE Publications. Retrieved from
Sleeter, C. (2007). Preparing teachers for multiracial and underserved schools. In E. Frankenbert, & G. Orfield (Eds.), Lessons in integration: Realizing the promise of racial diversity in American schools, 171-190. University of Virginia Press.
Stachowski, L., Richardson, W. J., & Henderson, M. (2003). Student teachers report on the influence of cultural values on classroom practices and community involvement: Perspectives from the Navajo reservation and from abroad. The Teacher Educator, 39(1), 52-63.
Tolisano, D. R. (2014). The globally connected educator: Talking to the world---not just about the world. In H. H. Jacob (Ed.), Mastering global literacy, 31-51. Solution Tree.
Triandis, H. C. (1994). Culture and social behavior. McGraw-Hill.
Zhao, Y. (2010). Preparing globally competent teachers: A new imperative for teacher education. Journal of Teacher Education, 61(5), 422-431.