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Teachers conceptions and theirapproaches to teaching in virtualreality and simulationbased learningenvironmentsTuulikki Keskitalo aa Faculty of Education, Centre for Media Pedagogy (CMP) ,University of Lapland , Rovaniemi, FinlandPublished online: 13 Jan 2011.
To cite this article: Tuulikki Keskitalo (2011) Teachers conceptions and their approaches toteaching in virtual reality and simulationbased learning environments, Teachers and Teaching:theory and practice, 17:1, 131-147
To link to this article: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/13540602.2011.538503
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Teachers and Teaching: theory and practiceVol. 17, No. 1, February 2011, 131147
ISSN 1354-0602 print/ISSN 1470-1278 online 2011 Taylor & FrancisDOI: 10.1080/13540602.2011.538503http://www.informaworld.com
Teachers conceptions and their approaches to teaching in virtual reality and simulation-based learning environments
Faculty of Education, Centre for Media Pedagogy (CMP), University of Lapland, Rovaniemi, FinlandTaylor and FrancisCTAT_A_538503.sgm(Received 13 March 2009; final version received 19 March 2010)10.1080/13540602.2011.538503Teachers and Teaching: Theory and Practice1354-0602 (print)/1470-1278 (online)Original Article2010Taylor & Francis1710000002010TuulikkiKeskitalotuulikki.firstname.lastname@example.org
This research article focuses on virtual reality (VR) and simulation-based training,with a special focus on the pedagogical use of the Virtual Centre of WellnessCampus known as ENVI (Rovaniemi, Finland). In order to clearly understand howteachers perceive teaching and learning in such environments, this researchexamines the concepts of teaching and learning, pedagogical models and methodsas well as the educational tools used by ENVI teachers (n = 8). Data were collectedthrough thematic interviews and analysed using the content analysis method. Thisinterview study indicates that teachers saw ENVIs use in education asindisputably beneficial, because it has brought authenticity to teaching andprovided students with experiential learning opportunities. ENVI has also madepossible the integration of theoretical and practical knowledge. Teachers hadwidely accepted their role as facilitators of student learning but held widely variedconceptions of learning. Teachers underlying conceptions become evident in theirstudent-centred approach to teaching and in their utilisation of problem-basedlearning. However, their use of pedagogical models was not consistent or welldefined which has been the case in previous research. Although teachers still neededucation and support to use a variety of pedagogical models, the results of thisstudy suggest that teachers are moving in the direction of adopting student-centredapproaches. So far, this research has offered a starting point for developing apedagogical model for VR and simulation-based learning environments. As well,it offers useful insights regarding teaching, especially for healthcare teachers,teacher educators, instructor trainers, designers and researchers.
Keywords: healthcare education; teachers; conceptions; pedagogical models andmethods; VR and simulation-based learning environments; thematic interview
The sparseness of population in a northern country like Finland, combined with itsarctic climate, results in unique proficiency requirements for healthcare, acute careand rescue personnel. In response to these needs, the Virtual Centre of WellnessCampus (ENVI) was set up at Rovaniemi, Finland. ENVI creates life-like rescue, firstaid and emergency care situations using advanced technology. ENVI, as it was imple-mented at the Lapland Vocational College and the Rovaniemi University of AppliedSciences in Finland in the years 20052008 and today with its cardiac care unit, bedand surgical wards as well as child health clinic and distance consultation room (see
132 T. Keskitalo
www.envi.fi), is specifically designed for personnel and students in the field of health-care to develop, test and maintain their know-how and knowledge. In short, ENVIcould be viewed as a simulation centre (Lane, Slavin, & Ziv, 2001) or, in more detail,an integrated procedure virtual reality (VR) simulator (cf. Gaba, 2004; Kneebone,2003) wherein healthcare personnel and students can experience a safe and realisticlearning environment to repeatedly rehearse the practical work of healthcare.
Feedback from users of ENVI has been very positive, although the new environmenthas also brought challenges for it users. This is the case also in many other simulationcentres. Initially, the focus was on building environments, but now the emphasis hasshifted towards the use of simulations (Kneebone, 2003). This article will focus on VRand simulation-based training, with a special focus on the pedagogical use of ENVI.
This research is the first phase of a design-based research (DBR) project (Brown,1992; Design-Based Research Collective, 2003). The overall aim of the DBR is todevelop a pedagogical model for organising teaching and learning processes in ENVIand other simulation centres. In pursuit of this goal, we follow on Joyce and Weils(1980) definition of a teaching model as a plan or pattern that can be used to shapecurriculums (long-term courses of studies), to design instructional materials, and toguide instruction in the classroom and other settings (p. 1). Overall, then, we under-stand pedagogical models as tools used in designing, implementing and evaluatingeducation. The advantage of pedagogical models lies on their ability to provide theo-retical backgrounds for teaching as well as tools to plan teaching in advance (Tissari,Vahtivuori-Hnninen, Vaattovaara, Ruokamo, & Tella, 2005).
Compared to available research about university teachers conceptions of teachingand learning, as well as their approaches to teaching (e.g. Bruce & Gerber, 1995;Kember & Kwan, 2000; Postareff & Lindblom-Ylnne, 2008; Postareff, Lindblom-Ylnne, & Nevgi, 2007; Tissari et al., 2005; Trigwell & Prosser, 1996), there is onlysparse information on healthcare teachers conceptions of teaching and learning andtheir approaches to teaching in VR and simulation-based environments. Indeed, it isimportant to make explicit those underlying conceptions and theories, because teach-ers approaches to teaching and learning outcomes are influenced by teachers concep-tions of teaching and learning (Campbell et al., 2001; Entwistle, Skinner, Entwistle,& Orr, 2000; Lonka, Joram, & Bryson, 1996). In this task, pedagogical models mayhelp teachers to recognise those underlying theories and to select the best possiblepedagogical approach as the background for their teaching. To that end, this study isdesigned to elicit those concepts of teaching and learning, pedagogical models andmethods, as well as educational tools used by teachers in ENVI.
Although, the use of simulations in education has proven to be effective, Issenberg,McGaghie, Petrusa, Gordon, and Scalese (2005) suggest that more emphasis should beput on their pedagogical use. According to Kneebone (2003), the use of simulationshould be underpinned with appropriate pedagogical theories to avoid the domination oftechnology within the field. In this article, the results from data collected from interviewswith eight of the nine ENVI teachers in February 2008 about the use of VRs and simu-lations are presented (see also Keskitalo, 2008). The data were analysed using the contentanalys