Date of Award


Degree Name

EdD Doctor of Education

Dissertation Committee

Robert Donmoyer, PhD, Chair; Fred J. Galloway, EdD, Member; Helen Eckmann, EdD, Member; Bobbie Hansen, EdD, Member


case study, communication, Cross-case analysis, Ethnography, expatriate teachers, international schools, occupational culture, qualitative, retention, school administration, transparency


An increasingly global economy has produced a growing demand for teachers to work in international schools. However, data about teachers who elect to move abroad and work in international settings are limited. The lack of research in this area is surprising, given the relatively large number of expatriate teachers who work in international schools. The purpose of this study was to gain a better understanding of how expatriate teachers perceive their experiences in international schools and the role that these perceptions may play in their decisions to continue at a school or to seek other employment. In order to explore these topics, I completed an in-depth study of five participants who had each worked in multiple international schools during the course of their careers. The study utilized the following three research techniques: semi-structured interviews utilizing an interview guide; a particularistic case-study analysis approach focused on participants' professional life histories; and a three part cross-case analysis of interview data that allowed for the emergence of preliminary ethnographic generalizations about the culture of international school teachers. While only a small group of participating teachers was used for this research, rich qualitative data emerged that suggest the following: (a) The teachers in this study care deeply about how they are treated by their administrators and are more likely to leave a posting where they do not feel fully trusted to do their jobs. (b) The participants value transparency about working and living conditions during the recruitment process. (c) Participants indicated a need for easy access to communication with friends and family in order to feel fully supported by their school. (d) Participants suggested that they and other international school teachers they knew seek novelty and adventure; consequently, teachers may leave even highly positive situations. (e) Overseas teachers appear to form an occupational culture that shapes their expectations of employment and the living conditions in international school settings. This study began to define what the culture of international school teachers looks like and the values and preferences that are associated with teaching in an international school.

Document Type

Dissertation: Open Access