Unlocking the potential of introduction to teaching courses through simulations

Abstract

Introduction to teaching courses are often tasked with helping students make an informed career choice and building their knowledge of the field. In this mixed-methods study, we investigated 98 students’ responses to a challenging, mixed-reality simulation, and which factors influenced their responses, to understand the utility of the technology for supporting teacher educators in introduction to teaching courses. The students generally perceived the simulation as challenging and useful, with many building skills during practice and sharing new insights into teaching afterwards. Students’ prior experiences working with children were associated with their performance and perceptions. Implications for teacher education are discussed.

Summary

To understand the potential utility of mixed-reality simulations for introduction to teaching courses, our study examined almost one hundred introduction to teaching students who participated in a challenging, simulated teaching opportunity as part of an introduction to teaching course. Our goal was to understand how PTs would respond to a practice opportunity that was both virtual and challenging, how the practice opportunity would influence their knowledge of teaching, and what factors would influence their performance and reactions to a simulated practice opportunity. What we found was that even short simulations could open potential teachers eyes to the complexities of teaching and that the utility of the simulations, and how potential teachers performed, was shaped by their prior experience working with children. Our findings indicate that simulations can be a useful, virtual experiential learning opportunity for students in introductory education courses, one that has unique affordances and can supplement existing field experience opportunities.