1. Jamie Mikeska
  2. Research Scientist
  3. Developing Preservice Elementary Teachers' Ability to Facilitate Goal-Oriented Discussions in Science and Mathematics via the Use of Simulated Classroom Interactions
  4. None
  5. Educational Testing Service (ETS)
  1. Heather Howell
  2. Research Scientist
  3. Developing Preservice Elementary Teachers' Ability to Facilitate Goal-Oriented Discussions in Science and Mathematics via the Use of Simulated Classroom Interactions
  4. None
  5. Educational Testing Service (ETS)
  1. Carrie Straub
  2. https://www.linkedin.com/in/carriestraub/
  3. Executive Director
  4. Developing Preservice Elementary Teachers' Ability to Facilitate Goal-Oriented Discussions in Science and Mathematics via the Use of Simulated Classroom Interactions
  5. None
  6. Mursion
Public Discussion
  • Icon for: Heather Howell

    Heather Howell

    Co-Presenter
    May 13, 2019 | 07:52 a.m.

    Welcome all!

    We are so excited to share, in this year's video, the perspectives of some of the teacher educators and preservice teachers we've been working with in methods courses.

    In the third year of the project, we've been working intensely with our collaborators. We have now collected data in four methods courses, and just last week wrapped up the first full implementation of the model, including, for each pre-service teacher, three cycles of teaching in the simulated classroom, receiving detailed feedback, and debriefing in the methods course. As you can imagine, its been really fulfilling to see our vision come to life, to see the novice teachers' improvement over time, and to hear from participants about what they are learning and how this work complements their other opportunities to learn from coursework and field experiences.

    We would love to hear from you in the discussion, with questions, comments, or ideas about how the field might use, further develop, or benefit from these kinds of performance tasks.

    And if you're interested in the background of the project we invite you to visit our 2017 showcase video  and 2018 showcase video.

    https://stemforall2017.videohall.com/presentati...

    https://stemforall2018.videohall.com/presentati...

  • Icon for: Julie Amador

    Julie Amador

    Higher Ed Faculty
    May 13, 2019 | 06:59 p.m.

    Thanks for sharing your work! I have done some work around the use of animation for prospective teacher prep, but have not explored a simulation in this way. I actually have not ever seen a simulation like this in use or used one myself. Do you have any way for others to "test" this out to get a better understanding of how the simulation works?

    Julie

  • Icon for: Jamie Mikeska

    Jamie Mikeska

    Lead Presenter
    May 14, 2019 | 07:56 a.m.

    Thanks for taking a look at our video. The good news is that our technology partners, Mursion, have a number of simulated classrooms that they have developed (including the one for this project that is shown in the video) and do demonstrations with faculty so they can get a firsthand experience with the student avatars and see how the simulation works. In the demo, you can talk to the students and see how they respond in real-time during the interaction --it's quite amazing and feels very authentic once you start talking to them. If you go to Mursion's website (https://www.mursion.com/request-demo/), you can click a button to request a demo and someone from their end will reach out to you directly to schedule the demo.

  • Icon for: Carrie Straub

    Carrie Straub

    Co-Presenter
    May 14, 2019 | 09:28 a.m.

    Thanks, Jamie!

    Julie, We would be happy to share our work and immerse you in a simulation.  We have an upper elementary class, middle school class, and education leadership scenarios.  We are currently partnered with about 65+ institutions for teacher education, and there may be partners in your area who could show you their work. It is very interactive, and there are so many application - we encourage you to explore!

  • Icon for: Julie Amador

    Julie Amador

    Higher Ed Faculty
    May 14, 2019 | 03:13 p.m.

    Thank for the details and link to Mursion. Much appreciated!

  • Icon for: Mac Cannady

    Mac Cannady

    Facilitator
    May 13, 2019 | 11:54 p.m.

    Hi, this is so cool. Thanks for sharing this video!

    Echoing Julie's comment, is this something that others might be able to use? I am also curious about the structure of the system and how easy or difficult it is to create simulated classrooms for different/new content areas. Is the platform set up for quick creation of new content, or is each one created from scratch based on particular scientific content?

    Thanks!

  • Icon for: Jamie Mikeska

    Jamie Mikeska

    Lead Presenter
    May 14, 2019 | 07:57 a.m.

    Thanks for your questions Mac. This simulated classroom is definitely something that others can use. In fact, over 65 teacher education programs across the U.S. have used these types of simulations to help their teachers learn. If you are interested in learning more, I'd encourage you to reach out to our technology partners, Mursion, to schedule a demo (https://www.mursion.com/request-demo/). Mursion also has a bank of various performance tasks that they and their collaborators have developed over time -- across different grade levels and content areas and for various purposes -- so there is a lot of flexibility in terms of using this simulated classroom. Mursion also has a number of different classrooms (e.g. elementary and middle school) and avatars (both students and parent avatars). On this project, creating the new elementary classroom with the five student avatars took about 9 months in total -- working collaboratively with Mursion on the design and iterative testing of the interface. In terms of designing the actual science and math performance tasks, we used a design based iterative approach whereby we piloted the tasks a couple of times and refined it based on feedback from preservice elementary teachers, external consultants, and our advisory board. We also developed a set of training materials to support the interactor (the "human in the loop" who is behind the scenes and is acting and responding as all five student avatars in real time during the interaction) in delivering a standardized experience for the teachers during the interaction. Our process for creating each new task and interactor training materials occurred over a few months, however, I know that Mursion has created other types of custom scenarios in as little as a couple hours -- it just depends on what you want, the focus of the task, and the content and teaching competencies that it is designed to address. But all of the components are definitely able to be customized and you can create new tasks based on different content for use in the simulated classroom.

  • Icon for: Carrie Straub

    Carrie Straub

    Co-Presenter
    May 14, 2019 | 10:28 a.m.

    Thanks, Heather!

    Mac, Heather and Jamie's project is highly customized, and the system allows for all levels of customization. It can be used across content areas, so we design simulations in science, mathematics, English language arts, social studies, and even educational leadership.  This project is unique because we are looking at simulating discussions and focusing on providing opportunities to increase candidates' ability to facilitate discussion across content areas.  If you are interested in experiencing a simulation, please reach out to us at Mursion. 

  • Icon for: Holly Wiegreffe

    Holly Wiegreffe

    Higher Ed Faculty
    May 14, 2019 | 04:55 a.m.

    Very Interesting!  Thank you for your work and your video.

    In the future, do you plan to follow your pre-service teachers into their classrooms and measure their effectiveness educating students? 

    I'd be interested in knowing if teachers who have had this training produce students who are measurably different in their performance in using critical thinking/science reasoning.

    Holly

  • Icon for: Jamie Mikeska

    Jamie Mikeska

    Lead Presenter
    May 14, 2019 | 07:57 a.m.

    Thanks for watching our video. For this particular NSF project, we will only be following the pre-service teachers during their science or mathematics methods course in their teacher education program. However, in the future, we would definitely like to follow pre-service teachers who are using the simulation back into their classrooms with real students to learn how they are applying what they learned in the simulated classroom to their work in real classrooms and whether and in what ways that impacts their students' learning. We think that is an important and vital next step in this research!

  • Icon for: Susan McKenney

    Susan McKenney

    Facilitator
    May 14, 2019 | 09:22 a.m.

    This is very exciting stuff - thanks so much for sharing! I am wondering about something that might sit between the comment from Holly and the response by Jamie. Namely, what do you look at, specifically (and how do you measure it) in the methods courses? I am guessing that there could be elements that help teachers focus on areas for deliberate practice in their classroom settings. Might that be the case?

    Thanks!
    Susan

  • Icon for: Heather Howell

    Heather Howell

    Co-Presenter
    May 14, 2019 | 01:32 p.m.

    Indeed, a huge part of our work this year has been focused on training raters to score and provide feedback on performances. We have them do these activities in tandem, but only the written feedback goes to the preservice teachers. The scores go to the teacher educator and of course we will be analyzing them, but based on preliminary evidence it seems like there is considerable improvement, but still significant room for growth, in the skills targeted in the feedback over the course of the semester. Our rubric focuses on five elements: elicitation of student thinking, coherence and connectedness of the discussion, encouragement of direct student-to-student dialogue, content understanding, and focus on argumentation. It is definitely the case, based on what the preservice teachers have told us, that the areas we provide feedback on  are helping them focus as they move from one performance task to the next.

     

     
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    Susan McKenney
  • Icon for: Carrie Straub

    Carrie Straub

    Co-Presenter
    May 14, 2019 | 09:24 a.m.

    We are so excited to share this work with you, and our ETS partners, Jamie Mikeska and Heather Howell, are thinking deeply about how to simulate classroom interactions that provide opportunity for rich classroom discussion.  One of the challenges that we have faced is create student profiles that allow candidates to "unlock" student thinking at the right points.  Our goal is to shape behavior in the simulator that will generalize to the classroom when they are working with children, and making sure we are providing the right opportunities and shaping the targeted behavior is complicated work when you are crafting guidelines for interacting.  This year we looked to other types of simulation to learn more about how others are standardizing interactions while at the same time keeping the spontaneity we find in discussion with students. 

    As we move forward with this work, we will be expanding our collaborations with other researchers and teacher educators to share our knowledge and learn from each other.  Mursion is also working in corporate learning settings, and while the focus is not on K12 content, we are simulating discussions that are challenging based on the emotional nature of the content (imagine and conversation around poor performance on the job with an employee or a discussion about cutting the budget).  This work continues to challenge and inspire us!

     
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    Discussion is closed. Upvoting is no longer available

    Susan McKenney
  • May 14, 2019 | 08:52 p.m.

    Hi Jamie and team. 

    This is fascinating work. I wish these simulated experiences were available when I was a pre-service teacher! The video shows teachers engaging with the simulation in a dedicated space. Can teachers, now or in the future, access the simulations whenever and wherever they want?

    Catherine

  • Icon for: Heather Howell

    Heather Howell

    Co-Presenter
    May 15, 2019 | 09:26 a.m.

    I wish it had been available to me too! Its a good question... and probably mostly technical so I'll let Carrie weigh in, but I think the short answer is not quite now but in the future maybe. Right now a match has to be made between the person on the back end who knows the task and the person who wants to engage in that task, so you can access it whenever you want as long as you plan ahead and schedule it, which is probably not quite the on demand vision you had in mind:) This is probably built into the human in the loop model to some extent, and although you can imagine ways that might work to scale efficiently, its tricky in the details. Will AI eventually replace the human in the loop? I can't call that one at this point. Maybe. (If I'm being honest, it already fools me online all the time in ways that I might be surprised by if I really understood what was happening.) Its harder to see it happening with something like teaching, but I have to think things that seem impossible now will be easy at some point. And I'd bet that the work we are doing now to define the parameters for the human interactors could be used to ground that kind of development effort.

  • Icon for: K. Renae Pullen

    K. Renae Pullen

    Facilitator
    May 15, 2019 | 08:12 a.m.

    This is so cool! How I wish I had something like this when I taught science methods.

    I'm really interested in learning more about the variety of avatars and how those different avatars impact the learning experience for the preservice teacher. Also, how do you envision this sim classrooms being used for inservice teachers?

  • Icon for: Carrie Straub

    Carrie Straub

    Co-Presenter
    May 15, 2019 | 10:45 a.m.

    The work being done on this project could eventually be used to support in service teachers to facilitate classroom discussions.  Currently K12 districts can change the profile and look of the avatars, much like was done in this project, to give teachers a range of personalities and learning profiles to interact with.  

  • Icon for: Heather Howell

    Heather Howell

    Co-Presenter
    May 15, 2019 | 10:47 a.m.

    We haven't been studying relationships between the avatar characteristics and the learning experience per se... I do feel like the avatars whose student work (for a given task) evinces the clearest misunderstandings of content get the most attention, and we've made some efforts across tasks to make sure its a different mix of content understandings, partial understandings, and misunderstandings each time so that no one student becomes a consistent weaker or stronger student.

    While we aren't working with inservice teachers on this project, I think there's a lot of potential there. Reflecting on my own work as a teacher, I think providing the opportunity for an experienced teacher to try out a new approach in a safe "play space" could be really powerful in addressing the tension between wanting to try new things and grow professionally and knowing that you're more likely to do something more familiar well in the short term.  I also think there's a lot of open questions about how this might or might not work differently with more experienced teachers. For example, they might be more sensitive to small divergences from authentic student approaches because they know more about what is realistic.  I would also anticipate that their more developed teaching approaches might require that we build out our sim specialists training in different ways.

    Jamie has related project work with experienced teachers and I'll let her speak to that.

    I'm curious what comes to mind for others on this point.

  • Icon for: Frank Davis

    Frank Davis

    Researcher
    May 15, 2019 | 10:22 a.m.

    Hi Jammie, Heather and Carrie

    A very fascinating project and one I think points to new methods of teacher preparation focused on the dynamics of classroom practices. You noted that teachers find the simulation authentic. I did notice that the avatars in the video had a range of coloring and other attributes attempting to represent what a diverse group of students might look like, and the social and cultural experiences that they bring into the classroom. In my current work focused on low achieving students in schools typically in poor urban and rural areas this is a particularly important issue in classroom practices.

    I certainly can imagine all the work needed to just to create a simulation that presents a classroom context around the issues of augmentation at the elementary school level being an achievement in itself. I was wondering if other issues about how differences in social and cultural experiences of students (and teachers) that emerge in classroom interactions, have  impacted how these simulations are constructed and used.

    I was also wondering if videos of actual classroom work are used as models for the simulations.

  • Icon for: Carrie Straub

    Carrie Straub

    Co-Presenter
    May 15, 2019 | 10:50 a.m.

    Frank, Your questions are top of mind for us at Mursion. Currently the system allows people to choose social and cultural profiles, create their own profiles, and design social interactions.  There are huge implications for every decision and as we move forward designing scenarios and interactions, and we are cognizant of the balance between providing an authentic environment, while at the same time not essentializing children.  Our mandate is to be aware of our bias as designers, learners' bias, and to be open to exploration of how the scenarios we are designing may impact learners. It is complex, but important to keep front and center. Thank you for your thoughtful commentary!  

  • May 15, 2019 | 04:42 p.m.

    This is great and important work, thank you for sharing! 

    As an aside, this reminded me of a time my young niece loved to "play" teacher, and "play" student.  She also, like most kids, loves the internet and videos on YouTube.  I wonder if this could be adapted alittle and used as model space to show her and other young children what an active, productive learner looks like using a preschool friendly topics.  

  • Icon for: Heather Howell

    Heather Howell

    Co-Presenter
    May 17, 2019 | 09:19 a.m.

    Really interesting question. We have colleagues here who do work (not connected to this NSF) on three- and four-way conversations in virtual settings, and they've experimented with switching out who are the digital players and who are the real people behind the scenes. My hunch is that it could be really helpful as a tool to give students at different age levels who may not yet know how to engage in collective work around content an opportunity to see what it looks and feels like to be part of a small community that is doing it well. For teachers and students alike, having those breakthrough experiences may be important in helping us know what it is we are supposed to be aiming to do in our collective discourse!

  • Icon for: Sandy Wilborn

    Sandy Wilborn

    Director of Programs
    May 17, 2019 | 11:05 a.m.

    Very innovative and engaging! There is a real need for students to have strong problem solving skills and the ability to justify their thought processes and answers. This is a great way for teachers to be exposured to various scenarios.  Thank you for sharing!  

  • Icon for: Edith Graf

    Edith Graf

    Researcher
    May 17, 2019 | 09:10 p.m.

    I really enjoyed the video, thank you for sharing your work!

    It would seem that the simulated classroom data are very rich, what approach do you take to analyzing the data to inform feedback to pre-service teachers?

  • Icon for: Heather Howell

    Heather Howell

    Co-Presenter
    May 20, 2019 | 03:32 p.m.

    So I guess that question really has two parts.

    In terms of the feedback, we've been working (a lot) on rater training to use the rubric we created to accompany the tasks. The raters assign scores, but at the same time they note evidence from the videos that supports the scores in each dimension but that also provides specific examples for the feedback. This feeds into the formative feedback report, which is organized by dimension, with particular attention to calling attention to specific evidence of stronger or weaker aspects of performance along with specific, actionable suggestions tied to the next level up of the rubric.

    In terms of the data - we are just getting started! Of course, the scores themselves are a primary data source, but we are also learning a great deal about out what preservice teachers do with these tasks, what approaches they take, and how their instruction changes in response targeted feedback.

     
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    Edith Graf
  • Further posting is closed as the showcase has ended.