Overseas student teaching and national identity: Why go somewhere you feel completely comfortable?


  • Frans H. Doppen Ohio University


Global Studies, International Student Teaching, National Identity


This article presents the findings of a study of emerging perceptions of national identity held by preservice teachers who completed their student teaching overseas. To help them become better global citizens and teachers in this constantly changing and increasingly diverse world, each in a unique international setting, and based on Crèvecoeur’s question, “What is an American?” reflected on what it means to be American in a foreign country and what it is that characterizes national identity in their host country. Several significant thematic findings related to the participants’ perception of national identity that emerged included observations about lifestyle, economic inequality, diversity, politics, religion, patriotism and perspectives on national identity. The most significant conclusion that can be drawn from the findings is that these student teachers were immersed in the experience to such an extent that they were unable to reflect back upon their American national identity. Clearly, the intensity of context in which they found themselves, did not allow them to identify the characteristics of American through their own eyes. When describing American identity, they did so largely from the generally negative perspective of the people they encountered in their host country.

Author Biography

Frans H. Doppen, Ohio University

Assistant Department Chair; Associate Professor of Middle Childhood Education, Social Studies Education.

Dr. Doppen has been an active presenter at professional conferences, including the College and University Faculty Assembly, International Assembly, the National Council for the Social Studies, and the American Educational Research Association. He has published scholarly articles in amongst others Theory and Research in Social Education; Social Studies; International Journal of Social Education, Social Studies Research and Practice, and Education, Citizenship and Social Justice. His current research focuses on historical thinking, and global and civic education.