Urban, simulated learning environment, preservice teacher, performance, pedagogies of practice


The failure to staff the nation’s classrooms with highly qualified teachers, especially those in disadvantaged schools, is a problem in American education. Novice teachers who begin teaching in urban, low-income, diverse schools leave the field of education at alarmingly high rates. Schools are not being provided with the teachers they deserve; new teachers are especially ill-prepared to meet the needs of students in high-need urban settings. In return, these lowincome schools are not retaining sufficient numbers of the teachers they do recruit. A teacher’s performance has a tremendous impact on a child’s learning and academic journey. Teacher preparation programs need to increase effectiveness by preparing teachers who perform at a proficient level or higher from the first day they step foot in the classroom. Preservice teachers must have an understanding of how to teach effectively through the use of pedagogical knowledge and culture. Universities can assist prospective teachers to simultaneously learn content and pedagogy through training. The revolving door of teachers leaving impoverished communities must stop. Students are not in warrant of substitute teachers, unqualified or uncertified novice teachers year after year. Teacher preparation programs have a vital role in shaping initial levels of teacher commitment. One way to build this bridge between preparation of teachers for urban or diverse settings is to consider new options for teacher preparation. While teacher preparation programs can offer theories and pedagogies of practice, the use of a virtual reality (VR) environment permits teacher preparation to provide preservice teachers with varied experiences in order to prepare them for a high-need urban setting. This fully immersive environment could allow preservice teachers to create an environment that best supports the needs of their learners, iii strengthening knowledge gained in coursework to examination in the field. A traditional teacher preparation program cannot offer this understanding of pedagogy in a consistent and constant format. It is the obligation of schools and colleges of education to improve teacher education programs. Universities need to prepare culturally responsive educators who can effectively perform in the urban classroom. The purpose of this study was to examine the impact a simulated learning environment had on preservice teachers’ classroom performances as measured by onsite and virtual observations. Pedagogies of practice are described through categories of personal connections, life experiences, engagement and assessment of prior knowledge as demonstrated in reflective writing of preservice teachers who participated in a simulated learning environment versus those who did not. The researcher proposed the use of a VR to provide an expanded view to preservice teacher preparation within a simulated classroom. It was hypothesized this scaffolding of learning beyond typical textbook learning would deepen the knowledge of the preservice teacher, leading to effective performance within a high-need urban setting. A mixed-methods approach of the embedded experimental design was used for collection of both qualitative and quantitative data. The Chi-square Test of Independence, supported by Fisher’s Exact Test and Cramer’s V used to analyze data measured on a nominal scale for the experimental group and control groups. Data analysis showed a significant difference in teacher indicators in three of the four observations. Specifically the preservice teachers (experimental group) who participated in the simulated learning environment related and integrated the subject matter with other disciplines and life experiences and reviewed previous class material before instruction more often than the control group. Key words in context (KWIC), word count and iv content analysis were used to identify themes through language as demonstrated in the reflective writing. Underlying patterns were used to form relationships between performance in the urban classroom after participation in a simulated learning environment, followed by reflective writing in the categories of personal connections, life experiences, engagement and assessment of prior knowledge. The preservice teachers in both the experimental and control groups exhibited many of the teacher behaviors needed in a high-need urban setting through their reflective writing. However, the intervention of TeachLivE™ continued to be an outlier, which not only strengthened the preservice teachers’ reflections but performance in the classroom. The simulated learning environment offered the preservice teachers in the experimental group a medium to learn through doing. Exposure to the tools and methods in TeachLivE™, followed by reflective writing, provided opportunities to improve pedagogies of practice, impacting preservice teacher’s performances in the urban setting. Future research recommendations based on continued observations to gather further data of the study, improvement of performance over time, and an expanded observational group are presented. Academic achievement of the students in the participant’s classrooms who took part in TeachLivE™ in order to analyze whether the variable of TeachLivE™ impacted preservice teacher performance in the urban classroom could be measured. Finally, faculty mentors at the university could design professional development opportunities for novice teachers in TeachLivE™, assisting in coaching and self-reflection of lessons taught, working towards understanding of content and pedagogy. Reflection afterward would be collaborative between novice teachers and faculty mentors based on observations. Scaffolding novice teachers learning while in a simulated environment can be motivating and effective in learning gains.


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Graduation Date





Szente, Judit


Doctor of Education (Ed.D.)


College of Education and Human Performance


Dean's Office, Education

Degree Program









Release Date

May 2014

Length of Campus-only Access


Access Status

Doctoral Dissertation (Open Access)


Dissertations, Academic -- Education and Human Performance, Education and Human Performance -- Dissertations, Academic

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