The Science and Mathematics Simulated Interaction Model (SIM)

The Science and Mathematics Simulated Interaction Model (SIM) project will design and clinically test simulations for teachers. The hypothesis is that simulations will identify strengths and misconceptions in teachers' understanding of content and pedagogy, increase instructional capacity, and advance student achievement. The SIM will be for pre-service and induction-stage teachers. The simulations will focus on common problems of practice, challenges, dilemmas, issues that mathematics and science teachers encounter at the secondary level.

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The Science and Mathematics Simulated Interaction Model (SIM) will design and clinically test simulations for mathematics and science teachers. The main hypothesis is that mathematics and science simulations will identify strengths and misconceptions in teachers' understanding of content and pedagogy, increase teachers¡ instructional capacity, and advance student achievement. The SIM will be designed for both preservice (in training) and induction-stage (early career) mathematics and science teachers. The eight different SIM simulations will focus on common problems of practice, challenges, dilemmas, issues that mathematics and science teachers encounter at the secondary level (grades 9-12). The Syracuse University School of Education and SUNY Upstate Medical University's Clinical Skills Center have partnered together in past simulation design and research endeavors. Through their SIM partnership, these organizations now focus on the first exploration of content-specific simulations. When designed and clinically tested, the researchers expect the SIM to serve as an innovative teacher development tool that helps novice mathematics and science teachers effectively transition from preservice preparation to classroom practice.

The heart of the SIM is a series of live, one-to-one interactions between novice mathematics and science teachers and standardized individuals (SIs). Similar to medical education's use of standardized patients, the SIM's standardized individuals are local actors who are carefully trained and scripted to present to novice teachers distinct mathematics or science problems, questions, or dilemmas. For example, how do novice mathematics teachers navigate a conversation with a standardized student who questions the relevance of advanced mathematics? Similarly, how do novice science teachers navigate a difficult conversation with a standardized parent who questions the teaching of evolutionary biology? Each teacher's simulation is immediately followed by an individual debriefing and a written improvement plan in a highly structured simulation to reflection to improvement plan cycle of assistance. Each simulation cycle is coupled with a content-specific seminar designed to support teachers' strengths and to address their content or pedagogical misconceptions. The SIM is structured as an iterative design project, where the initial design of the eight simulations will be clinically tested twice. 40 novice teachers (20 preservice and 20 induction stages) will take part in the clinical testing process. SIM data strands include pre-simulation questions, audio/video data of the simulated interactions between teachers and SIs, post-simulation teacher video reflections, and written professional improvement plans. The research team will focus on refining the simulations and identifying the teachers' strengths and misconceptions based on 160 different simulated interactions.

When complete, the SIM will consist of eight simulations that effectively identify the content and pedagogical strengths and misconceptions of secondary mathematics and science teachers. Initially, the SIM will be implemented within the Syracuse University School of Education. SIM products, processes, and all findings will be made available to all education researchers and teacher educators through password-protected digital access. The SIM's problem-based methodology challenges novice teachers to enact content and pedagogy, while also helping researchers to accurately and meaningfully assess teacher strengths and misconceptions in mathematics and science. As data are gathered and analyzed for each SIM problem of practice, we anticipate the formation of grounded theories and models of mathematics and science teacher development. These data - gathered through a methodology that places novice teachers in immediate, demanding, authentic situations - hold the potential to yield broader understandings of how novice science and mathematics teachers are transferring the content and pedagogy learned within teacher preparation into actual teacher practice.