Use of an online simulation to support pre-service teachers knowledge of literacy instruction
The authors of this paper report on software that made use of segment excerpts of authentic classroom literacy experiences into interconnected, short-term teaching episodes called cycles. Sets of cycles link in a variety of ways to create a representation of the diversity of possible teaching episodes. As a result, each teaching episode unfolds according to the decisions that users make about the management of the classroom, teaching experience and students, and of random events that occur during each cycle. This research affirmed that these simulated cycles are effective in developing pre-service teachers’ understanding of literacy teaching when users have access to support from cognitive tools designed to connect them with the theory needed to understand and address the pedagogical problems posed by the simulation. We found that this allowed pre-service teachers to more fully appreciate the reasons behind, and the potential impact of, subtle changes that expert teachers make during lessons. The knowledge gained from this previous grant indicated that rich, fine-grained episodes could have a greater impact on student understanding and application of expert teacher knowledge.