Improving teacher candidate instruction with experiential deliberate practice in virtual simulations

John Pecore
University of West Florida

NEED: Novice teachers that are unprepared with basic skills, such as asking effective questions and fostering classroom discussion, are more likely to leave the profession (Helms-Lorenz et al., 2016; Levine, 2006; Karbownik, 2014; Oliveira, 2010). Additionally, teacher preparation programs have transitioned from knowledge acquisition to a practice based instructional approach (Walkoe & Levin, 2018). To prepare elementary teacher candidates to be successful in teaching science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) content, teacher candidates should be provided opportunities to engage in experiential learning with deliberate practice (Ericsson & Harwell, 2019; Kolb, 1984).

GUIDING QUESTIONS: This project addresses the gap in understanding how experiential, deliberate practice through online, virtual mixed-reality simulations can serve as a means for improving teacher candidates’ skills and practices (Ericsson & Harwell, 2019; Klassen et al., 2021; Kolb, 1984; Kolb et al., 2000). An asynchronous online platform was used to provide instruction on questioning and discussion skills, and online, virtual mixed-reality simulations were used to provide opportunities for teacher candidates to engage in experiential, deliberate practice. The research investigated the question: How are undergraduate elementary teacher candidates’ performance ratings and self-perceptions of questioning and discussion skills impacted by online experiential deliberate practice?

OUTCOMES: Teacher candidates engaged in asynchronous learning through CanvasTM modules coupled with virtual-reality teaching experiences through the MursionTM platform. A total of three teaching sessions, including baseline and post-intervention sessions, were recorded and scored by independent scorers using the Danielson (2013) framework. Additional feedback from participants was captured in post-MursionTM teaching session surveys. Data demonstrate that engagement in the asynchronous learning modules with opportunities for deliberate practice in MursionTM simulations positively impacted participants ability to ask questions and facilitate discussions. This impact is demonstrated through increases of at least one level on the Danielson (2013) rubric section 3b for questioning and discussion. Participants also self-report improved perceptions of their ability to ask questions and facilitate classroom discussions.

BROADER IMPACTS: As teacher preparation shifts to focus on a practice-based approach, opportunities are necessary for teacher candidates to practice new learning and apply skills. This project supports a practice-based approach by creating opportunities for experiential deliberate practice. The immediate impact of this study on participants is demonstrated through improvement of both participant self-reporting and scorer ratings of skill competencies. The broader impacts of this project include the implementation of experiential deliberate practice as a model for other teacher preparation programs. Experiential, deliberate practice through online, virtual mixed-reality simulations can be implemented in any area where high-speed internet is available, therefore allowing a wide impact to address access to practice opportunities for teacher candidates. The teacher participants will be teaching in high need schools for their student teaching and so their enhanced teaching skills will benefit students in Title I schools.


Minkyounk Kim, University of West Florida, Pensacola, FL; Corey Nagle, University of West Floirda, Pensacola, FL; Katie Feliciano, University of West Florida, Pensacola, FL; Melissa Demetrikopoulos, Institute for Biomedical Philosophy, Clearwater, FL