Beutel, D, Adie, L & Hudson, S 2011, 'Promoting rural and remote teacher education in Australia through the over the Hill project', International Journal of Learning, vol. 18, no. 2, pp. 377-388.
Copyright 2011 The authors.
Attracting quality teachers to rural areas is an ongoing international concern. Teacher education institutions have been criticised for contributing to this problem by failing to raise an awareness of teaching in rural areas in their teacher education programs. This study investigates preservice teachers' perceptions towards teaching in rural areas after participating in a rural experience through the Over the Hill project. A self-selected group of second and third year preservice teachers from a regional campus of an urban Queensland university participated in a six-day rural experience, which included being billeted with local families, attending local community events and observing and teaching in rural primary and secondary schools. Data collected from the preservice teachers before and after the rural teaching experience were analysed to reveal positive perceptions towards teaching and living in rural communities. The findings revealed that even a brief immersion into rural schooling communities can positively influence preservice teachers' attitudes towards seeking rural teaching placements. These findings have implications for the ways in which teacher education institutions can promote rural teaching opportunities in their teacher education programs.