Study Abroad for Preservice Teachers

A Critical Literature Review with Considerations for Research and Practice


  • Alyssa Morley Michigan State University
  • Alisha M. B. Braun University of South Florida
  • Lodi Rohrer University of South Florida
  • David Lamb University of South Florida


Study abroad, Preservice teachers, Global competency, Teacher education, Postcolonialism


This article applies a postcolonial analytical framework to critically review empirical literature on study abroad for preservice teachers (PSTs). Our systematic search of scholarly databases identified 47 empirical studies of study abroad programs for PSTs in the 2000-2019 time period. Our analysis of these 47 studies is driven by the objectives to (a) understand geographic patterns in study abroad of PSTs, (b) examine the topics, conceptual frames, and implementation of study abroad of PSTs, (c) explore how study abroad for PSTs is currently being conceptualized and studied, and (d) critically analyze how these geographic patterns and study abroad programmatic and research trends are situated within broader North-South relations (Major & Santoro, 2016). Using geovisualizations we illustrate patterns in the countries of origin of PSTs and the countries in which they study abroad. We find that the majority of PSTs are from the United States and are traveling to countries in the North. When examining the content and programming of study abroad, we find many programs focus on cultivating professional skills for PSTs such as language fluency for foreign language teachers and intercultural competence. After establishing these patterns, we pay particular attention to the 23 studies in our sample that examine PSTs traveling to regions in the Global South. We conclude by offering considerations for future research and highlighting practices for program design that encourage PSTs to reflect upon global power differentials and complexities.

Author Biographies

Alyssa Morley, Michigan State University

Alyssa Morley, Ph.D., is a research associate and instructor in the College of Education at Michigan State University. Her research examines how teachers engage with global influences in their work. 

Alisha M. B. Braun, University of South Florida

Alisha M. B. Braun, Ph.D., is assistant professor of social foundations in the Department of Educational and Psychological Studies at the University of South Florida. Her research explores educational policies and practices related to access to quality education for marginalized children, especially children with disabilities in developing contexts.

Lodi Rohrer, University of South Florida

Lodi Rohrer, M.S.P.H., is a doctoral student in the educational measurement and research program at the University of South Florida. Her research interests include the application of statistical methods and geovisualization in education and public health.

David Lamb, University of South Florida

David Lamb, Ph.D., is an instructor in the Department of Educational and Psychological Studies in the College of Education at the University of South Florida. He holds degrees in geography with particular emphasis in geographic information system (GIS). His research focuses on GIS-based methods for analysis and visualization, focusing in particular on movement analysis.