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Board 360: Practicing Facilitating STEM Discussions: A Study on the Use of a Digital Simulation Tool for Teachers

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2023 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Baltimore , Maryland

Publication Date

June 25, 2023

Start Date

June 25, 2023

End Date

June 28, 2023

Conference Session

NSF Grantees Poster Session

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NSF Grantees Poster Session

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Paper Authors


G. R. Marvez Tufts University

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Marvez is a PhD student in the joint STEM Education and Cognitive Sciences program at Tufts University interested in games, language, and controversial discussions. In past research projects, they have worked on the development of virtual simulations for teachers to practice leading controversial discussions. They are interested in ways to prepare teachers to facilitate controversial debates with students in STEM classrooms, such as through simulations and games, on topics such as genetic modification, climate change, and public infrastructure. Marvez has also worked on the development of natural language processing models for assessment and personalized feedback in educational settings. At Tufts, Marvez works with McDonnell Family Assistant Professor Greses Pérez in the CEEO on the development of engineering board games for multilingual students in culturally relevant contexts.

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Camila Lee Massachusetts Institute of Technology

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Camila Lee is an instructional designer and researcher at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) Teaching Systems Lab (TSL). Her past research experiences with the Wellesley College Human-Computer Interaction Lab and the MIT Scheller Teacher Education Program have led her to design studies that seek to understand how to optimize learning with different model mediums such as immersive virtual reality. At the TSL, Camila works on projects that support teacher education through online learning experiences.

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Justin Reich Massachusetts Institute of Technology

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Teacher Moments, a teaching simulation platform funded by two NSF grants in the Divisions of Research on Learning (# 2037983) and Computer and Information Science and Engineering (# 1917668), has been used to help teachers practice facilitating argument-based discussions and moderating design discussions. We present two research studies in which Teacher Moments has been used to help pre-service teachers practice facilitating argument based discussions and provide an opportunity for teachers to practice facilitating a difficult discussion on genetic engineering.

First, Teacher Moments has been used to help pre-service math and science teachers practice facilitating argument based discussions. In an on-going research study, pre-service teachers are provided with an online practice suite of virtual reality, avatar-based, and Teacher Moments simulations. As pre-service teachers engage in scenarios through Teacher Moments, they practice encouraging students to form arguments, discuss and critique their logic with peers, and communicate their reasonings. Furthermore, the Teacher Moments simulation is being used as pre/post assessment to evaluate and measure the knowledge gained through the online practice suite of simulations.

Second, Teacher Moments has been used to create a choose-your-own-adventure style simulation in which a high school teacher facilitates a discussion with students about the ethics of genetic engineering. In this design, the simulation participant selects teacher dialogue options in speaking to students as a way to practice different kinds of facilitation styles and techniques. In a pilot study on this simulation, we found that participants with less teaching experience more frequently chose teacher dialogue choices that kept the teacher in control of the conversation as compared to more experienced participants who tended to center the students and their ideas in the conversation. This design suggests a way for novice teachers to practice facilitating difficult discussions with students and could be used as a way to train instructors to become more comfortable with introducing difficult discussions into STEM classrooms.

In these two studies, we show that the design in this teaching simulation platform can be used to train STEM teachers in the facilitation of classroom discussions and argument based discussions between students.

Marvez, G. R., & Lee, C., & Reich, J. (2023, June), Board 360: Practicing Facilitating STEM Discussions: A Study on the Use of a Digital Simulation Tool for Teachers Paper presented at 2023 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Baltimore , Maryland. 10.18260/1-2--43012

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