1. Need: This project (enactive virtual environment for teaching practice, EVETeach) addresses two issues facing STEM undergraduate education: (a) the difficulty in allowing for an accessible and scalable practicum experience for preservice STEM teachers, and (b) the lack of interdisciplinary STEM education experiences in teacher preparation programs.
2. Guiding Questions: The research questions guiding this work include the following: (1) What are the experiences and perceptions of math and science preservice teachers (PSTs) using EVETeach-based for teaching practices? (2) How is the design of each core element or feature of EVETeach associated with PSTs’ teaching practices and topic-specific professional knowledge development? (3) To what extent will participating in EVETeach improve PSTs’ teaching self-efficacy, topic-specific professional knowledge development, and conception of STEM education?
3. Outcomes: In this project, we design and develop virtual students to facilitate STEM teaching practice and knowledge development for preservice secondary mathematics and science teachers.We aim to address the challenges such as providing human-computer interactions in natural language and designing cost-effective, scalable, and sustainable mixed reality simulations. Our poster presents the current design-based research findings on VR-based teaching simulations focusing on core STEM teaching practices, as well as the associated AI-powered virtual student agents that embody diverse learner characteristics/needs and enable domain-specific, reciprocal teacher-student interactions in natural language. We first introduce the underpinnings of learning experience design for preservice secondary mathematics and science teachers. We then present the technical architecture design of virtual student agents, its functional workflow between the open source virtual environment and databases, and the user testing results. Our work contributes to the interdisciplinary research including learning design, teacher education, and computer science on creating AI-powered virtual students for meaningful teaching practices in mixed reality simulations.
4. Broader Impacts: This project will prepare future STEM teachers for effective and adaptive teaching practices. It will contribute an accessible tool and an innovative method for enhancing practice-oriented STEM preservice teacher education.
Fengfeng Ke, Florida State University, Tallahassee, Florida; Sherry Southerland, Florida State University, Tallahassee, Florida; Chih-Pu Dai, Florida State University, Tallahassee, Florida