Strengthening the Quality, Design and Usability of Simulations as Assessments of Teaching Practice

Ensuring that beginning teachers are "classroom-ready" requires assessments that efficiently and validly evaluate proficiency in teaching. This project explores assessments involving simulated students as a way to assess teaching practice, which could provide an important complement, or alternative, to directly assessing teaching practice in classrooms.

Lead Organization(s): 
Award Number: 
1502711
Funding Period: 
Tuesday, September 1, 2015 to Thursday, August 31, 2017
Full Description: 

Ensuring that beginning teachers are "classroom-ready" requires assessments that efficiently and validly evaluate proficiency in teaching. This project explores assessments involving simulated students as a way to assess teaching practice, which could provide an important complement, or alternative, to directly assessing teaching practice in classrooms. This form of assessment has the potential to provide a way to avoid onerous expense, logistics, and other difficulties of assessments happening in classrooms. The project will address questions about the development of performance expectations for elementary mathematics teachers, the extent to which the performance of the "student" role can be standardized across different performance contexts, and different approaches for generating teaching scenarios. The assessments will focus on the teaching practices of eliciting and interpreting students' mathematical thinking. The project will support: (1) establishing the validity of the assessment as a means to assess readiness to teach elementary mathematics and (2) providing the necessary foundation for scaling research and the use of simulation assessments. 

The goal of this project is generating, calibrating, and studying standardized simulations of clinical performance of mathematics teaching. The strategy is to investigate three components of the simulation assessment that will enable its broader use in the field. One component will focus on approaches that use different foundations (wisdom of practice, interactions with children, and learning trajectories research) for the design of simulations that are authentic and provide robust information about teaching. Data on the ways in which each approach supplies resources needed for assessment development will be compared. Another component will focus on the degree to which the role of the student can be standardized given the dynamics of teaching. Data on the responses of standardized students, who have similar initial training, to different situational categories will be analyzed. A final component will be establishing a basis for calibrating performance expectations for simulations linked to key points in a teacher's career trajectory (early career teachers, experienced teachers, "accomplished" teachers). Data on the performance of teachers at different points in their careers on the same assessment simulations will be compared. This study of components impacting assessment design will result in a more robust foundation for further development of, and further research on, teaching simulation assessments. The Discovery Research K-12 program (DRK-12) seeks to significantly enhance the learning and teaching of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) by preK-12 students and teachers, through research and development of innovative resources, models and tools (RMTs). Projects in the DRK-12 program build on fundamental research in STEM education and prior research and development efforts that provide theoretical and empirical justification for proposed projects.