Facilitating Formative Feedback: Using Simulations to Impact the Capability of Novice Mathematics Teachers

This project explores the ways in which thoughtfully designed simulations can provide preservice teachers with formative assessment opportunities that serve as a complement to, or alternative to as needed, feedback derived from field placement contexts. A set of simulations will be designed with a focus on eliciting and interpreting student thinking. These simulations will be used with preservice teachers in three elementary teacher preparation programs of varying size and demographics.

Full Description: 

During their initial teacher preparation experiences, preservice teachers need meaningful formative assessment that can support them in developing their skills and practices as new teachers of mathematics. While field placements offer some such opportunities, too often preservice teachers are not able to see, experience, and enact a full range of research-based effective mathematics teaching practices. This level II four-year design and development study in the assessment strand explores the ways in which thoughtfully designed simulations can provide preservice teachers with formative assessment opportunities that serve as a complement to, or alternative to as needed, feedback derived from field placement contexts. A set of simulations will be designed with a focus on eliciting and interpreting student thinking. These simulations will be used with preservice teachers in three elementary teacher preparation programs of varying size and demographics. Data will be collected to understand the ways in which the feedback from engaging in the simulations serves to strengthen preservice teachers' abilities to elicit and interpret student thinking through an analysis of performance in the simulations, interviews with preservice teachers, and feedback from teacher educators. An associated study will establish the reliability and validity of the simulations as assessment tools.

Simulations will be developed and tested in three cycles, with iterative improvements made between each cycle. The first cycle will involve 10 preservice teachers in a pilot study separate from participation in a course, in which preservice teachers engage in a simulation, receive formative feedback, and engage in a second similar simulation. This cycle will evaluate the extent to which feedback appears to influence subsequent performance. In the second cycle, the project will work with three teacher educators in diverse contexts to enact the simulations with all preservice teachers in one section of their elementary mathematics methods courses. In the final cycle, the use of the simulations will shift from a research team actor playing the role of the student to a site-based actor recruited by the teacher educators at each of the three institutions. To validate the tools, researcher reliability and teacher educator reliability studies will be conducted to asses the extent to which the four different simulation assessments provide consistent feedback on the targeted teaching practices and the extent to which the scoring of the assessments are reliable. A G study (generalizability study) will be conducted to evaluate the extent to which the teacher participant is the primary source of variation as compared to variations from student actors or the rater administering the assessment. Results will be disseminated in a variety of mathematics education settings and the simulation materials will be made available to practitioners and adapted for additional use in  mixed-reality simulation platforms.

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