Listening to teacher candidates: Pre-service teachers’ perspectives on simulations in teacher education

Abstract

Teacher educators have only a few semesters to cultivate future teachers’ skills, and every moment of practice during teacher preparation matters. Scalable, customizable simulations can offer teacher educators new ways to integrate practice into teacher candidates’ coursework. Incorporating candidates’ perceptions of such experiences is essential for maximizing the utility of simulations. We used 876 teacher candidate survey responses from three years of simulations to begin developing a set of best practices for simulations. We analyzed the survey responses to understand how candidates perceived different element of simulations, from the content to the instructional supports we offered. Candidates valued practice opportunities in the simulator and saw them as low stakes. They appreciated being able to repeat individual scenarios and being challenged. They wanted extensive preparation for sessions and guidance on how to improve as teachers.  We conclude with implications for teacher educators and researchers designing and studying simulated practice opportunities. 

Summary

In this paper, we use three years of user-research to develop a model of what matters to teacher candidates in mixed reality simulations, a model that other programs can draw on and expand as they develop their own mixed-reality simulation programs.