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Coaching Student-Teachers to Improve Classroom Performance

New K-12 instructors often learn teaching methods by trial and error, receiving little or no formal coaching before their careers begin. In a new working paper published by the Annenberg Institute at Brown University, researchers at the University of Virginia explore the positive impact of providing robust, individualized coaching supports to prospective educators enrolled in teacher-education programs or undergraduate courses.  

The researchers conducted five replicated studies: they placed candidates into “digitally mediated simulations” where voice actors, controlling virtual avatars, responded in real time to candidates’ instructional cues, creating an environment closely aligned with an actual classroom. 

The study found that these individualized, directive coaching supports significantly increased candidate instructional performance and skills. This paper helps break down the notion that rapid skill development among educators only happens in real classrooms with real children and provides an introductory look at a new, promising way to better prepare teachers entering the workforce. 

The authors propose that the next step of this research process is to examine whether these same effects are seen in other educational settings, especially among more diverse candidates.

-By Nathan Kriha