Title

Using a Virtual Teaching Lab to Increase Tutor Effectiveness when Working with Kids at Risk

Location

Harborside Center

Strand #1

Academic Achievement & School Leadership

Strand #2

Social & Emotional Skills

Relevance

The proposal relates to both Strand 1 and Strand 2.

The programming provided to the tutors through their interaction with the TeachLivE Lab increased their ability to connect with their mentees on an academic and a personal level. The tutors were university students working in Title 1 schools with youth at risk. The k-12 students were enrolled in the tutoring program because they were under-achieving and needed academic support to close the achievement gap. Tutors first engaged mentees in social emotional well being activities and then focused on academic interventions.

Brief Program Description

The TeachLivE™ Lab, a simulated virtual classroom environment was used to increase the effectiveness of tutors mentoring at-risk youth in the Tidewater area of Virginia. The Project Phoenix Tutoring Program used the lab to increase confidence in building rapport with students, competence in tutoring students, and discuss challenging scenarios when mentoring students.

Summary

The TLE TeachLivE™ Lab (TLE) is a mixed-reality environment with simulated avatar students and adults. The mission of the TLE Lab is to provide opportunities for educators to develop their skills (i.e. classroom management, discipline specific pedagogy, collaboration, and communication skills) through virtual rehearsals in an authentic, safe environment.

Project Phoenix has approximately 75 Undergraduate student volunteers who serve as tutors and mentors. The corps of volunteers gives over 10,000 hours each academic year to making the program a success. Of the undergraduate population who participates, a peppering has declared an Education major, and fewer have ever had any professional development in the area of teaching and learning.

The goal of using the TeachLivE Lab with our Project Phoenix students was to provide professional development through “virtual rehearsals” with the avatar students. The Lab allowed our tutors to focus on the development of specific skills prior to interacting with real students and adults in educational contexts. Participants interacting with our avatar students could review previous work, present new content, provide scaffolding or guided practice in a variety of content areas, and monitor students while they work independently or in small groups. They could also practice navigating difficult conversations, engaging students in proactive ways, and build the confidence and knowledge required to be adept on day 1 of their tutoring sessions.

In the second semester of the academic year, new tutors were given virtual rehearsals to learn the instruction and management skills needed to become effective mentors, and practicing tutors could use the Lab to hone and refine their skills. Tutors were provided three scenarios to virtually rehearse in the Lab: establishing authority, diffusing physical or verbal bullying, and re-engaging students. Given what we know of effective professional development programs, we provided practice opportunities for the tutors and also incorporated feedback after every rehearsal (Simonson et al., 2010). Feedback increased the likelihood of acquisition, implementation, and maintenance of skills across time and condition.

Session participants will get to interact in the TeachLivE Lab and discuss the scenarios presented to the tutors and their effectiveness.

Evidence

  • Tutors were given pre and post surveys related to self-efficacy and content expertise.
  • Focus groups were help to gather data from the tutors to determine what about the program was successful and what changes needed to be made for the second year of the virtual experiences.

Dieker, L., Hughes, C. E., Rodríguez, J., Lingnugaris-Kraft, B., Hynes, M., & Hughes, C.E. (2014). The future of simulated environments in teacher education: Current potential and future possibilities. Teacher Education and Special Education, 37(1), 12-33.

Rodriguez, J. (2014, May). Comparison of feedback methods for pre-service teachers delivering mathematics lessons in the TeachLivE lab. In Straub, C., Dieker, L., Hynes, M., & Hughes, C. (2014). Proceedings from Ludic Convergence: The Second National TLE TeachLivE™ Conference. Orlando, FL: University of Central Florida.

Format

Poster Presentation

Biographical Sketch

Jacqueline Rodriguez, an Assistant Professor of Special Education, earned her Ph.D. in Education, Exceptional Education Track from the University of Central Florida. Her research interests include global inclusive educational practices, STEM education for culturally and linguistically diverse exceptional learners, and teacher preparation using simulated environments. Her dissertation investigated inclusive practices for students with disabilities in refugee camps in Jordan under the auspices of the United Nations. Jackie has BA's from The George Washington University in International Affairs and Latin American Studies, and an MA from the American University in Special Education.

Lauren Hong is a graduate of William and Mary with a BS in Psychology. Her interests include youth development, mentoring programs, and equity in public education. In her role as Fellow for Education Programs at the College of William and Mary, Lauren oversaw the Project Phoenix program.

Keyword Descriptors

Virtual Simulation, At Risk Youth, Mentoring, Tutoring

Presentation Year

2016

Start Date

3-8-2016 4:00 PM

End Date

3-8-2016 5:30 PM

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Mar 8th, 4:00 PM Mar 8th, 5:30 PM

Using a Virtual Teaching Lab to Increase Tutor Effectiveness when Working with Kids at Risk

Harborside Center

The TeachLivE™ Lab, a simulated virtual classroom environment was used to increase the effectiveness of tutors mentoring at-risk youth in the Tidewater area of Virginia. The Project Phoenix Tutoring Program used the lab to increase confidence in building rapport with students, competence in tutoring students, and discuss challenging scenarios when mentoring students.