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An International Perspective: Preparing Rural Teachers in Australia

Supportive communities and access to teacher educators were two critical factors for rural Australian teacher trainees to have successful professional experiences.

That's one of the key findings in a new study, "The Rural Practicum: Preparing a Quality Teacher Workforce for Rural and Regional Australia," which was published in the Journal of Research in Rural Education. The journal is part of the Center on Rural Education and Communities at Pennsylvania State in University Park, Penn.

The study analyzed open-ended responses from 264 surveys that were collected from 2008 to 2010. The surveys were intended to monitor the impact of state-based financial incentives to promote rural and regional professional experience. Australia has a shortage of teachers prepared to work in rural schools.

Researchers found that community support and teacher educators positively influenced students' attitudes toward taking teaching positions in rural areas.

"Overall, support from both local communities and universities contributed to preservice teachers' intent to apply for a rural posting," the report stated. "The rural practicum provided realistic experiences for preservice teachers and helped them overcome preconceptions of rural work and life. There seems no doubt that if one crucial element was to be identified from the preceding discussion, it is the 'people factor.'"

The study's authors were: Jodie Kline of Deakin University, Simone White of Monash University, and Graeme Lock of Edith Cowan University.

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