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Mathematics and science concepts and skills acquired in elementary school form the foundation for future success in STEM fields and yet students in eastern North Carolina and across the nation struggle to demonstrate proficiency on state and national tests. This project seeks to address one area affecting student outcomes, the nature and role of discipline-specific discourse and argumentation. The goal of the project is an empirical exploration of immersive classroom simulation activities (ICSAs) on pre-service mathematics and science teachers’ competence and confidence in discourse use. Student-to-student and student-to-teacher discourse are critical components of standards-based practices shown to improve learning outcomes and are also foundational tenets of mathematical and scientific pedagogical practices in standards documents. Teachers promote explanation and justification, critical for students to develop understanding, through questioning. Discourse is a key factor in making content meaningful and relevant for learners, an important construct for engagement, short- and long-term learning outcomes, and persistence. Traditional teaching simulation activities such as peer-to-peer role-play are limited, brief, and challenging to replicate to provide sufficient practice for discourse skill development. Virtual simulation provides immersive, interactive learning and gives candidates an opportunity to practice complex skills, which cannot be replicated with typical fieldwork, and thus, enables practice-based teacher development.

This longitudinal, mixed methods study will measure the impact in methods courses, practica, and internship placements of the use of ICSAs on facility with discourse skills to promote learning and engagement of all students in mathematics and science. The sample sizes of 120 achieve 80% power to reject the null hypothesis of equal means when the population mean difference is 8.1 with standard deviations of 15.8, and with a significance level (alpha) of 0.050 using a two-sided two-sample t-test where the variances are not assumed equal. The Analyzing Teacher Moves (ATM) instrument will be used to examine discourse practices speech acts using (Correnti, et al., 2015). ATM outcomes will be determined with the Weighted-Discussion-Scoring (WDS) guide (Scherrer, 2013) and the Weighted-Positive-Scoring (WPS) adapted by Lee (2016). Along with the opportunity to develop teacher practice without placing “real students” at risk during the learning process, another benefit of ICSAs is improved access to teacher learning-in-action for analytical purposes. The project adds to a growing pool of research leveraging digital media to improve design for learning and develops a framework to better prepare pre-service researchers to develop and use discourse in their college classrooms. This project responds to the National Science Foundation’s Improving Undergraduate STEM Education (IUSE) request for proposals addressing “immediate challenges and opportunities facing undergraduate STEM education,” as it relates to the preparation of teachers of STEM disciplinary content and practices. Should ICSAs prove effective, this project will provide ICSA scenarios, guidelines, and approaches to teacher preparation programs across the country. This important work is supported with funding from the IUSE program and the Robert Noyce Teacher Scholarship program. (

All activities are saved in the Project INTERSECT - Heart, Activity and Health iPhone apps. The Activity ring updates when using Project INTERSECT - Heart.

Project INTERSECT - Heart integrates with the Apple Health app to sync your sessions and record heart-rate and calories.
Justin Honda