International Teaching and Learning

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Many of the teaching professionals who choose to work internationally arrive having little knowledge of the opportunities, expectations, and challenges of teaching abroad. Transnational educators traverse the often labyrinthine paths of teaching and learning where culturally different ideologies collide, co-exist, and in some cases, merge. The study presents a close look at the lived realities of transnational educators and what international teaching and learning look like within the Arab Gulf nation of Qatar. Transnational educators (a cultural rather than a geographical distinction) must understand socio-cultural differences that can impact successful teaching and learning outcomes. A qualitative focus group process and analysis were used to uncover and identify these faculty members’ perceptions concerning their teaching experiences at this American university branch campus in which Western faculty teach an American curriculum, in English, to predominantly Arab students. The findings articulate the benefits and challenges of international teaching and guidance for transnational teachers or faculty considering this career option. These educators perceive that their Arab students are not unlike the students in their home campuses. Still, distinct cultural differences must be understood and negotiated, including closer faculty-student interactions, more intense family obligations for students, and stronger cultural reasons to avoid academic risk-taking. Faculty also perceived that differences in the behaviors and attitudes amongst these students have changed over time. These results have implications for teaching, learning, and developing an international teaching practicum.