By Dane Claussen, Ph.D., MBA, Manager of University Relations Athena Study Abroad
“Learning to Teach in the Field: Five Professors Tell How Running an Oversea Study Tour Improved Their Classroom Teaching,” by Katherine Ellinghaus, Jennifer Spinks, Glenn Moore, Paul Hetherington and Cassandra Atherton, was published in the Spring 2019 issue of Frontiers: The Interdisciplinary Journal of Study Abroad.
The article is designed, as it says, to “examine the positive impact of overseas study tours on the teaching philosophies and classroom strategies used by the professors running the tours.” It notes that scholarly literature in study abroad is minimal about how leading faculty-led study abroad affects faculty. Each of the five co-authors, who teach in different fields at five Australian universities, contributed an essay about how leading study abroad programs changed how they teach and sometimes what they teach. Moore writes about challenging students, Spinks writes about teaching with objects, and Hetherington writes about visually oriented teaching (rather than only texts). Ellinghaus writes about settling on a “teaching persona” and Atherton writes about teaching with a “spirit of adventure.”
The essays succeed in describing specific changes in teaching and putting them into larger contexts. However, it is unclear whether the methodology included the co-authors responding to prompt questions, whether drafts were circulated among co-authors, how the co-authors were chosen, etc. As with all self-reports, corroborating evidence would be helpful, but it is absent. Finally, because teaching is such a personal endeavor, disciplines differ and national cultures differ, the co-authors’ experiences and conclusions cannot be generalized. This article should be a starting point for future research.