South Korean partnership aims to prepare teachers for global competence


Meghan Krein

Daegu National University of Education, located in Daegu Metropolitan City — South Korea’s third-largest — is one of that nation’s leading institutions focused exclusively on educating elementary school teachers, and also one of the most recent universities with whom Arizona State University’s Mary Lou Fulton Teachers College has forged a partnership. 

Considered the most innovative university in South Korea, DNUE became interested in a partnership with MLFTC because of its reputation for innovation in education. But the similarities don’t stop there. Both universities are the largest teacher preparation programs in their respective nations: MLFTC serves over 600 undergraduate students, while DNUE serves just over 1,200. 

The new partnership — which Seungki Shin, MLFTC clinical assistant professor greatly helped foster — provides opportunities for students from both universities to gain a broader perspective of educational practices and reflect upon their own educational experiences. “The most important things to prepare a teacher for the future are cooperation and global competence,” says Shin.

In February, MLFTC’s Center for Advanced Studies in Global Education will host a STEM Camp for preservice teachers from both DNUE and MLFTC. Twenty preservice teachers and two faculty members from DNUE will attend the camp, focused on computer science education. “The ultimate goal of STEM education is to foster creativity by enhancing problem-solving through collaboration,” says Shin.  

“Through this international camp, preservice teachers at DNUE are expected to take a role as a leader in educational innovation by understanding the advanced education system and experiencing the educational philosophy of ASU,” says Youngkwon Bae, dean of Planning Affairs and professor in computer education, DNUE.

In addition, DNUE students will visit STEM schools in Madison Elementary School District and Tempe Elementary School District, says Ann Nielsen, associate director of CASGE. 

STEM has become a big topic of public conversation and is at the center of the attainment gap in academic outcomes and equity for non-white and socioeconomically disadvantaged kids. South Korea, in particular, is placing a specific emphasis on STEM, including coding, and exposing students to STEM at a very early age. 

Bae says, “Students whom the current preservice teachers will teach in the future need creativity, problem-solving and self-directed learning skills to prepare for the future, rather than acquiring current knowledge. Thus, students in K–12 are required to develop problem-solving skills through integrated STEM education based on computer science.”

MLFTC preservice teachers may have the opportunity to visit South Korea and “experience Korean culture and a superior elementary education system,” Bae says. It’s no hyperbole. According to PISA Worldwide Ranking, South Korea ranks No. 7 in math, No. 11 in science and No. 7 in reading; while the U.S. ranks No. 37, No. 25 and No. 24, respectively.  

Through the partnership, MLFTC students will have the opportunity to experience cultural diversity and cutting-edge technology-based instructional methods by understanding Korea’s excellent teacher training system and participating in classes,” he adds.

“In South Korea, we are striving to raise students who will lead a future by operating a rigorous national education curriculum and an excellent teacher training system. By comparison, there is no strict national-level curriculum in the United States, but autonomy is guaranteed through state-wide, bottom-up curriculum design and selection. Based on these differences, I think it would be an opportunity to expand the understanding of the curriculum through the exchange of students from both countries and to lay the foundation for developing global competence,” says Bae.