Dr. Jones looks at the effects of a virtual-based class
Spotlight on SOE faculty research
The amount of knowledge being generated by VCU School of Education faculty in published research goes beyond merely enhancing the school’s reputation – it is helping to shape the future of education itself. One recent example of this is the study below, co-authored by Dr. Monty Jones, assistant professor in the Department of Teaching and Learning, which looks at the effects of a virtual-based class experience on instructors’ teaching practices.
Dr. Monty Jones and his colleague Dr. Brianne L. Jackson explored the impact that a virtual teaching field experience, or virtual course, could have on teachers’ perceptions of virtual teaching, as well as which elements of virtual teaching were most beneficial to participants. The study is based on the idea of situated cognition, in which learners are placed in a practical, applicable hands-on experience so they can go beyond simply consuming information. The idea is to put that information into practice in order to understand the overall learning scenario and to be able to reproduce the knowledge in the future.
Four teachers participated in the study, which consisted of two courses. In the first course, teachers designed an online class that they could implement the following semester. The classes were assessed for course length, content and whether they met the requirements of the participants’ districts. In the second course, teachers implemented their courses with K-12 students in their school districts. The teachers received assistance with their online instruction from both peers and instructors who observed the online interactions during the class and provided feedback. During the development and implementation of their online classes, teachers maintained a reflective blog.
Results showed that teachers learned new strategies to use in future teaching practices. Prior to the practicum course, each participant had perceived virtual learning as a much easier alternative to face-to-face teaching, but shared in their reflective blog posts that they actually had the exact opposite experience. They mentioned learning the importance of course development and the most effective ways to build courses, as well as the community built within the virtual field experience, as the most beneficial aspects of their involvement in the study.
The biggest takeaway from the study was that participants believed the authentic experience in which they built and taught their online courses led to growth as teachers with improved methods and skills.
Link to abstract: https://doi.org/10.1080/15391523.2018.1530622
Jackson, B. L. & Jones, W. M. (2019): Where the Rubber Meets the Road: Exploring the Perceptions of In-Service Teachers in a Virtual Field Experience, Journal of Research on Technology in Education, https://doi.org/10.1080/15391523.2018.1530622