Date of Award


Embargo Period


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)




Education, Business & Science

First Advisor

Associate Professor Phil Fitzsimmons


130313 Teacher Education and Professional Development of Educators


This study systematically examines the impact of an overseas professional teaching experience on pre-service teachers as they seek to learn how to become authentic teachers. It articulates the principles and processes involved in pre-service teachers developing new and connected personal and professional identities (Shonia & Stachowski, 2014), referred to as stories of self (Connelly & Clandinin, 1999).

While there is little debate surrounding the importance of quality teacher education, there is a call for improvements in the preparation of pre-service teachers for their role as 21st century educators. Many suggest that a more authentic approach to teacher education is needed, with the inclusion of professional teaching experiences that connect the personal and professional identities of pre-service teachers (Palmer, 2007; Rodgers & Scott, 2008; Roffey, 2015). Overseas professional teaching experiences show promise for facilitating this connected identity, and for developing pre-service teachers’ cultural competence, and yet, it has been recognised that more research needs to be undertaken in regard to overseas professional teaching experiences. This study responds to this dearth of research and, importantly, moves beyond the assumption that all overseas experiences are inherently transformative.

The study involved four pre-service teachers situated in a remote village school in Mahendra Jyoti in the Bagmati Zone of central Nepal. It utilised a qualitative methodology that employed a combination of narrative and grounded theory. The overarching paradigm for the research was constructivist, which allowed for the emergence of multiple realities, and allowed the design of the research project to accommodate findings in progress. A model was developed to illustrate and inform the mentioned principles and processes inherent in the development of stories of self of pre-service teachers working overseas.

The results of the study suggested that overseas professional teaching experiences that successfully incorporate challenge, freedom and belonging can provide a growth-fostering environment in which pre-service teachers are supported in renegotiating their stories of self, through a destabilising, questioning and rebuilding process.

The findings of the study are relevant to the current Australian tertiary sector, as overseas professional teaching experiences appear to be disappearing from teacher education programs within Australian universities (Cruickshank & Westbrook, 2013). Representing a single case study, the model developed in this dissertation depicts one example of the essential elements involved in the formation and merging of pre-service teacher personal and professional identities. Acknowledging this case has one site only, this study sought a depth of understanding and not a breadth, and represents a stepping stone in the body of knowledge that may help inform best practice in the design and delivery of quality professional teaching experiences.


Used by permission: the author.

Staff and students of Avondale College may access a print copy of this thesis from Avondale College Library (SC Theses 370.71 H59)