Using mixed-reality simulation technology with pre-service teachers to increase their self-efficacy for explaining differentiation to parents

Research output: Contribution to conferenceAbstractpeer-review


In a classroom where differentiation is regularly implemented, it is likely there will be times when students will be given choices of which activities they complete, how they work, who they work with and how they demonstrate what they have learned. As a result of this, some parents may have questions for their child’s teacher regarding issues of equity, assessment and meeting curriculum requirements. Therefore, it is important that pre-service teachers feel prepared and are confident to explain differentiation to parents. Such teacher self-efficacy is linked to future practice, behaviour and attitudes and is most malleable during pre-service teacher preparation. However, it has been identified that pre-service teachers often feel insufficiently prepared to communicate with parents. This is often due to the limited interactions that are available as part of their initial teacher training and during school practicum experiences. A pre-service teacher’s self-efficacy has the potential to impact on the level of professionalism that that they demonstrate in the future in their communication with parents.

In order to provide pre-service teachers with the opportunity to practise explaining differentiation to parents, pre-service teachers in this study participated in a simulated parent-teacher interview (either as the teacher or through observation) using an innovative mixed-reality technology, as an alternative to traditional preparation methods, such as role play. The aim of this study was to determine if pre-service teachers’ self-efficacy related to explaining differentiation to parents improved after participating in a simulated parent-teacher interview using mixed-reality technology.

A convergent parallel mixed-methods research design was implemented. Data collection included surveys, focus group discussions and short response questionnaires with 28 pre-service teachers from two tutorial groups. Results identified a significant increase in pre-service teachers’ self-efficacy related to explaining differentiation to parents. Pre-service teachers identified that the experience was valuable, both as a direct participant in the simulation and as an observer. The simulation experience provided pre-service teachers with the opportunity to reflect on their own understanding of differentiation. The low-stakes simulated environment and the opportunity to learn from their peers were identified by the pre-service teachers as being valuable components of the simulated interview experience. Results indicated that pre-service teachers felt more prepared to explain differentiation to parents and more confident to talk to parents generally. In addition, pre-service teachers’ experience in communicating with parents in a simulated environment is likely to influence their future behaviour, persistence and implementation of differentiation as they feel that they have the ability to explain it to parents. This in turn is likely to help shape their understanding of what it involves to talk to parents. The findings from this study have implications for initial teacher education in terms of the potential use of mixed-reality simulation technology to prepare pre-service teachers for effective professional parent communication.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages62
Publication statusPublished - 13 Jul 2019
EventAustralian Teacher Education Association Conference (ATEA) 2019: Professionalism & Teacher Education: Voices from policy & practice - Sunshine Coast, Sippy Downs, Queensland, Australia
Duration: 3 Jul 20195 Jul 2019


ConferenceAustralian Teacher Education Association Conference (ATEA) 2019
Internet address


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