College of Education > Project > Virtual Roleplay

Virtual Roleplay

Pedagogical agents have become an increasingly popular tool for supporting training in skills that require sustained practice and self-paced approach. Agent technology has expanded rapidly in recent years, and has been used to help people master foreign languages and improve job interviewing skills, and help children with autism develop important social skills. It is important to note that few teacher education programs offer self-paced opportunities for teacher candidates to practice developing communication skills during volatile situations involving students. Traditional classroom pedagogies, like live role-play, often fail to provide teacher candidates with adequate “think-time” to make connections between content learning and applied practice. 

An innovative aspect of our project is that we will be applying this technology to help teachers build confidence and skill in engaging in “difficult” conversations with their students. After receiving training, teachers will practice applying these skills during simulated conversations with different agents.

Our web-based application will be designed so that users are provided with:

  • an overview of eight scenarios in which the simulated conversation is to occur,
  • a screen containing the live dialogue between the participant and agent,
  • a list of goals concerning the conversation
  • a dialogue box in which users can take notes regarding the exchange.

At the end of each simulation, teachers can access a transcript of each session via the conversational history dialogue box, and can self-reflect on their performance by reviewing and critically annotating each transcript.