Ohio University

News Archive

Published: October 3, 2018 Author: Tony Meale

As a graduate student at Utrecht University in the Netherlands, Dr. Frans Doppen participated in a one-year exchange program with the University of Florida. The experience was, in a word, life-changing.

So life-changing, in fact, that Doppen serves as coordinator for the Consortium for Overseas Student Teaching (COST) program, which allows teacher candidates to fulfill their Professional Internship II requirements while living abroad and student-teaching.

“It is important that students are prepared to teach anywhere,” said Doppen, professor and chair of the Department of Teacher Education. “Not only should we be able to teach across the United States, but we should be able to teach anywhere in the world.”

COST provides professional and personal growth in ways that are increasingly important for teaching in the United States. Student teachers are placed in local classrooms, providing an unparalleled opportunity to become acquainted with the culture and educational system of the host country.

COST offers site placements in Australia, Belize, China, Costa Rica, Ecuador, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Mexico, Netherlands, New Zealand, South Africa, and Spain.

“The program gives students an opportunity to immerse themselves culturally, experience other school systems, see how things can be done differently, and bring that experience back to the classroom,” said Doppen. “It is important to have an open mind about education and the world. COST can have that kind of impact.”

It had that kind of impact for 2018 graduate Allison Hammons, who performed her student-teaching at Concepcion Arenal in Ourense, Spain.

“COST was not only one of the most challenging things I have ever done, but also the most rewarding,” said Hammons, now a substitute teacher for South-Western City School District in Columbus, Ohio. “By being immersed in an entirely new culture in a city and school unfamiliar to me, I learned so much about myself as both an educator and a person.”

Ohio University is one of 16 U.S. colleges and universities participating in COST. In fact, it hosted COST’s annual meeting May 7-10, as nearly three dozen people attended.

Site coordinators from Australia, Germany, Mexico, Netherlands, New Zealand, South Africa, and Spain were in attendance, as were professors from Ashland University, Auburn University, University of Alabama, University of Kentucky, Youngstown State University, and Middle Tennessee State University, among others.

The purpose of the meeting is to assess the program, gather feedback from site coordinators, and discuss possible areas for improvement. Members also discuss budgeting and logistics while catching up with one another.

“There are a limited number of members, which is deliberate,” said Doppen. “We don’t want the program to become too large. We have personal contact with one another, and so it really is a family atmosphere where we connect with each other once a year to make sure the program does what it needs to do.”

Several attendees led presentations and discussions, including Grand Valley State University’s Sherie Williams (“The Impact of Teaching Abroad on Future Educators”), Kent State University’s Martha Lash and Justine DeFrancesco (“COST Preservice Teachers’ Overseas Student Teaching Experiences”), and Doppen (“Discussion: Social Media and Impact on COST Student Success/Perceptions”).

Doppen and John Winnenberg of Sunday Creek Associates also led several international attendees on a Little Cities of Black Diamonds Tour, which included stops at Monroe Outlook, Rendville, Shawnee, and New Straitsville. The group had lunch at a local family restaurant in Corning and dinner at Eclipse.

“They were just fascinated by the history of this region,” said Doppen. “It was a fantastic experience and a great day.”

The 2019 meeting will be held April 15-18, 2019, at the University of Georgia in Athens, Georgia, while the 2020 meeting will occur in Ourense, Spain.

Since its inception in 1972, COST has allowed hundreds of students to fulfill teaching requirements while living overseas. Accommodations vary depending on location, with some participants living with a host family, while others live with other students, teachers, or by themselves.

“It’s not study abroad, but it’s student-teaching abroad,” said Doppen. “You have to get up in the morning and do your student-teaching, but it is one of the cheapest ways to have a three-month experience in another country. No other program is as cost-effective.”

Interested participants must complete all Professional Internship prerequisites, have a minimum cumulative 3.0 GPA (as well as a minimum 3.0 GPA in their content area or areas of specialization), and be in good academic and judicial standing. They must also be willing to live and work independently abroad. Prior to going abroad, students must take EDTE 4900 Developing Global Understanding and EDPL 3610 COST Practicum.

The program offers many benefits. Living and working for an extended period in a foreign country will help one broaden his or her outlook on the world, develop a greater appreciation of other cultures, and increase self-confidence and self-awareness. Participants also experience cultural immersion and are exposed to different perspectives, which allow them to become more effective educators. Fluency in a foreign language is not required.

“I think it’s such a crucial experience, particularly in your early 20s when you don’t have all the various commitments you have as you get older,” said Doppen. “It’s a unique moment in time and in life to have an experience and bring it back. Research shows it changes you professionally and changes you personally. Students come back and say, ‘Wow, I never knew I could do this by myself.’ They grow in self-confidence and in their ability to communicate with people in other cultures. Why not do it if you can?”

Interested candidates should email Doppen at doppen@ohio.edu. The application deadline for Summer 2019 is Dec. 1, 2018, while the deadlines for Fall 2019 and Spring 2020 are Feb. 1, 2019, and May 1, 2019, respectively.

Ali Hammons

Photo courtesy of: Patton College of EducationAllison Hammons taught at the Concepcion Arsenal School in Ourense, Spain.


Photo courtesy of: Patton College of EducationAnother Teacher Education student, Kara Cunningham, taught at Kirwee Model School in Kirwee, New Zealand.