Mixed Reality Simulation in Teacher Preparation Programs in the United States
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Mixed Reality Simulation in Teacher Preparation Programs in the United States

  • Author(s): Ireland, Ashley
  • Advisor(s): Hansen, Mark
  • Durkin, Diane
  • et al.

Practice is a vital component of teacher preparation. Mixed Reality Simulation (MRS) is a technology that provides teacher candidates opportunities for practice and rehearsal. As of 2021, MRS can be found in just 52 of the estimated 1,200 teacher preparation programs nationwide. Within the Diffusion of Innovation theory, these programs are considered innovators and early adopters. Applying the theory, learning and sharing how these programs are using MRS may help to diffuse and ultimately grow the use of this innovation in teacher preparation programs.This explanatory sequential mixed methods study included a survey and interviews of leaders of simulation to discover (1) how simulation is being used in teacher preparation in the United States and (2) how the leaders of the technology perceive MRS for teacher preparation. During phase one of the study, data were collected from 41 of 52 teacher preparation programs in the U.S. known to use MRS. In regard to extent of use and structure, the survey found that: Most programs have low integration; most respondents reported integrating simulation into 20% or less of their courses and exposing an average of 43% of their teacher preparation students to MRS each year. Though annual hourly use ranged, respondents reported using an average of 88 hours a year, with a mode of 30 hours. Most respondents reported delivering MRS in a lab model—where individual students rehearse in front of their peers. All respondents reported using classroom management scenarios and reported the use of these scenarios as frequent more than any other scenario. Respondents also most frequently reported management scenarios as most beneficial to students. The survey found that COVID-19 caused changes in simulation frequency, content, and integration, with most programs reporting an increase in MRS use as a result of school shutdowns and limits to opportunities for clinical practice. In regard to how MRS is perceived by leaders, respondents overwhelmingly described their experience with MRS as positive. Respondents frequently referenced opportunities for practice and the ability to facilitate and rehearse in otherwise impossible scenarios as the most positive aspect. They referenced the time commitment, technology issues, and building faculty buy-in as the most challenging issues. Phase two of the study included interviews with a purposeful sample from the survey respondents. One leader of simulation from an institution exemplifying typical MRS use was interviewed, and three leaders from institutions found to have atypical or “special” MRS use were interviewed. The institutions with special use included: one institution using less than average hours, yet exposing 100% of their student population to the technology, one institution vending the technology to other programs, and the institution that reported using the most MRS hours annually. Qualitative data from the interviews further described how MRS was being used at the institution as well as detailed how the leaders perceive the technology for teacher preparation. The qualitative data also elaborated on typical and atypical MRS use such as vending practices, course integration, and student assessment. This data elaborated on divergent beliefs about MRS in teacher preparation.

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