Teachers frequently express stress associated with teaching in large classrooms. Despite the time-honored tradition in teacher stress research of treating class size as a job-related stressor, the underlying premise that class size directly impacts teachers' stress reactions remains untested. In this randomized controlled experiment targeted at preservice teachers, we utilized a standardized virtual reality (VR) classroom to examine whether class size (number of student avatars) directly affected physiological (heart rate) or psychological (subjective rating) stress reactions among 65 preservice teachers. Results from linear mixed-effects modeling (LMM) showed that class size significantly predicted both their physiological and psychological stress reactions in the simulated environment: Average heart rate and subjective stress ratings were both significantly higher in the large class size condition. Further investigations into the causes of this association has been proposed. These findings may contribute to a better understanding of the effects of classroom features on preservice teachers’ emotional experiences and well-being.
Virtual reality (VR) is a technology that recreates realistic scenarios in a controllable virtual environment. VR has been widely adopted in professional training of situational, adaptive, and complex skills within various occupations, yet the field of teacher education has only just started to utilize this technology in the recent decade. In order to advance the application of VR in teacher education, the current review presents a synopsis of state-of-the-art literature from 2010 to 2020. We conducted a review regarding the details of program implementation (e.g., VR system and simulated situations), intended outcomes (e.g., factual/conceptual or procedural knowledge), and measures used to evaluate the effectiveness of teacher education programs that implemented various VR systems. Based on the review of 46 empirical studies, we found that 1) VR-based training programs mostly targeted pre-service teachers, and that they most frequently simulated instructional situations; 2) VR has been used most often for fostering procedural knowledge; 3) the majority of studies reported positive results regarding the intended outcomes and the effectiveness of VR has been measured mostly by teachers' self-reports. We also identified areas of improvement and future directions for the application of VR in teacher education and teacher education research.
Student teachers often struggle to keep track of everything that is happening in the classroom, and particularly to notice and respond when students cause disruptions. The complexity of the classroom environment is a potential contributing factor that has not been empirically tested. In this experimental study, we utilized a virtual reality (VR) classroom to examine whether classroom complexity affects the likelihood of student teachers noticing disruptions and how they react after noticing. Classroom complexity was operationalized as the number of disruptions and the existence of overlapping disruptions (multidimensionality) as well as the existence of parallel teaching tasks (simultaneity). Results showed that student teachers (n = 50) were less likely to notice the scripted disruptions, and also less likely to respond to the disruptions in a comprehensive and effortful manner when facing greater complexity. These results may have implications for both teacher training and the design of VR for training or research purpose. This study contributes to the field from two aspects: 1) it revealed how features of the classroom environment can affect student teachers’ noticing of and reaction to disruptions; and 2) it extends the functionality of the VR environment––from a teacher training tool to a testbed of fundamental classroom processes that are difficult to manipulate in real-life.
Virtuelle Realitäten ermöglichen Trainingsszenarien, die in der realen Welt nur mit hohem Aufwand oder mit ethischen Bedenken durchgeführt werden können. Dazu gehört das Verhaltenstraining angehender LehrerInnen vor Schulklassen. Dieser Beitrag beschreibt eine für diesen Zweck entwickelte VR-Klassenraumsimulation, in der gezielt Störungen bei simulierten SchülerInnen ausgelöst werden können. Der Einsatz dieser Lösung für das realitätsnahe Training von Klassenmanagementkompetenzen bei Lehramtsstudierenden wird beschrieben und evaluiert, wobei ein Fokus auf dem angemessenen Umgang mit Unterrichtsstörungen liegt.