The purpose of this study was to explore how elementary education teacher candidates (TCs) engage with simulated English learners (ELs) at different English proficiency levels though instructional conversations (e.g., Leveled Questioning) and how coaching and simulation can help shape their developing competence with this skill. Instructional conversation plays a vital role in increasing the language proficiency and complex academic thinking of ELs. This study focused on a dialogic experience based on the TC's performance in a coaching session within a simulated classroom. Conversation analysis (CA) was conducted among a triad of participants including teacher candidates, experienced coaches, and simulated ELs within an Elementary Education teacher preparation program at a large university. Data was collected during virtual Skype sessions. The study recruited 20 TCs for participation for this simulated experience. As themes emerged TCs' interactions were examined for a deep analysis of their interactions. The research questions investigated the verbal and non-verbal moves TCs used while interacting with simulated English learners; as well as the verbal and non-verbal moves coaches used when guiding TCs during a simulated experience with EL avatars. CA revealed details of talk-in-interaction between the triad of participants which included a focus on 3 main organizations of CA (turn-taking, sequence, repair). The results showed varied verbal and non-verbal interactions between a triad of participants which demonstrated how the interactions occurred during simulated events and shaped the TC's ability to adjust their questioning for simulated ELs at different levels of English proficiency. Informed by Socio-cultural Theory regarding teacher formation, this study used descriptive methodology in a new forum by using CA while not contributing directly to CA. In other words, CA was the methodology used for this study and is interpreted using a socio-cultural perspective. Implications for practice and future research are discussed.


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Graduation Date





Grissom, Donita


Doctor of Education (Ed.D.)


College of Community Innovation and Education


Learning Sciences and Educational Research

Degree Program

Curriculum and Instruction


CFE0009307; DP0026911





Release Date

June 2025

Length of Campus-only Access

3 years

Access Status

Doctoral Dissertation (Campus-only Access)

Restricted to the UCF community until June 2025; it will then be open access.