Chat-Based Role-Play for Preservice Teachers to Practice Eliciting Students’ Arguments

Print Friendly, PDF & Email
Lottero-Perdue, P. S., Rillero, P., Liebars, C., Goldberg, A., & Reich, J. (2023). Chat-based role-play for preservice teachers to practice eliciting students’ arguments. Innovations in Science Teacher Education, 8(3).  Retrieved from
by Pamela S. Lottero-Perdue, Towson University; Peter Rillero, Arizona State University; Cathy Liebars, The College of New Jersey; Adam Goldberg, Southern Connecticut State University; & Justin Reich, Massachusetts Institute of Technology


In this article, we describe our implementation of an innovative approximation of practice in teacher education: chat-based role-play. In so doing, we share our collective experiences as teacher educators about how the preservice teachers (PSTs) across our four methods courses—two elementary science courses, one elementary mathematics course, and one middle school mathematics course—practiced eliciting students’ initial arguments about a matter investigation (for science) or a fractions or ratio problem (for mathematics). The chat-based role-play to which we refer involves a one-on-one, 7-minute-long, teacher–student typed chat in which the teacher aims to elicit the student’s claim and evidence-based reasoning (for science) or justification (for math). We used Eliciting Learner Knowledge (ELK;, a multiplayer option in the Teacher Moments online platform from the MIT Teaching Systems Lab that is free and available for public use, to support this role-playing experience; however, we also explain how other platforms (e.g., Google Docs) can achieve a similar effect. In this article, we describe (a) the affordances of typed chat-based role-play; (b) the ELK platform and elementary science chat as an example; (c) the ways in which we prepared PSTs for their chats, formatted their chat experiences, and asked them to reflect after the chats; (d) how our PSTs benefitted from preparing for, engaging in, and debriefing from these chats; (e) implementation challenges and associated suggestions; and (f) alternate ways of conducting typed chat-based role-play in methods courses. Content-specific examples throughout the article are from science.

Innovations Journal articles, beyond each issue's featured article, are included with ASTE membership. If your membership is current please login at the upper right.

Become a member or renew your membership


Alegado, K., & Lewis, A. (2018). The four elements of the Claim, Evidence, Reasoning, and Rebuttal (CERR) framework. Science Scope, 41(5), 72–78.

Benedict-Chambers, A., Fick, S. J., & Arias, A. M. (2020). Preservice teachers’ noticing of instances for revision during rehearsals: A comparison across three university contexts. Journal of Science Teacher Education, 31(4), 435–459.

Contant, T. L., Bass, J., Tweed, A., & Carin, A. A. (2018). Teaching science through inquiry-based instruction (13th ed.). Pearson.

Dotger, B. H. (2013). “I had no idea”: Clinical simulations for teacher development. Information Age.

Ericsson, K. A., Krampe, R. T., & Tesch-Römer, C. (1993). The role of deliberate practice in the acquisition of expert performance. Psychological Review, 100(3), 363–406.

Grossman, P., Kavanagh, S. S., & Pupik Dean, C. G. (2018). The turn towards practice in teacher education: An introduction to the work of the Core Practice Consortium. In P. Grossman (Ed.), Teaching core practices in teacher education (pp. 1–14). Harvard Education Press.

Hagenah, S., Colley, C., & Thompson, J. (2018). Funneling versus focusing: When talk, tasks, and tools work together to support students’ collective sensemaking. Science Education International, 29(4), 261–266.

The Lawrence Hall of Science, University of California, Berkeley. (2014). Scientific argument. The Argumentation Toolkit.

McNeill, K. L., & Krajcik, J. S. (2012). Supporting Grade 5-8 students in constructing explanations in science: The Claim, Evidence, and Reasoning framework for talk and writing. Pearson.

Michaels, S., & O’Connor, C. (2012). Talk science primer. TERC.

Mikeska, J. N., Howell, H., & Straub, C. (2019). Using performance tasks within simulated environments to assess teachers’ ability to engage in coordinated, accumulated, and dynamic (CAD) competencies. International Journal of Testing, 19(2), 128–147.

Mikeska, J. N., & Howell, H. (2020). Simulations as practice-based spaces to support elementary teachers in learning how to facilitate argumentation-focused science discussions. Journal of Research in Science Teaching, 57(9), 1356–1399.

NGSS Lead States. (2013). The next generation science standards: For states, by states. National Academies Press.

Self, E.A., & Stengel, B.S. (2020). Toward anti-oppressive teaching: Designing and using simulated encounters. Harvard Education Press.

Straub, C., Dieker, L., Hynes, M., & Hughes, C. (2015, June 4–5). Using virtual rehearsal in TLE TeachLivE™ mixed reality classroom simulator to determine the effects on the performance of science teachers: A follow-up study (Year 2). In T. Bousfield, M. Hynes, C. Hughes, L. Dieker, C. Straub, & K. Ingraham (Eds.), TeachLivE 3rd National Conference: Dissecting education (pp. 49–109). University of Central Florida, Orlando, FL.

Stroupe, D., Hammerness, K., & McDonald, S. (Eds.). (2020). Preparing science teachers through practice-based teacher education. Harvard Education Press.

TeachingWorks. (2023). High-leverage practices.

Thompson, M., Leonard, G., Mikeska, J. N., Lottero-Perdue, P. S., Maltese, A. V., Pereira, G., Hillaire, G., Waldron, R., Slama, R., & Reich, J. (2022). Eliciting Learner Knowledge: Enabling focused practice through an open-source online tool. Behavioral Sciences, 12(9), Article 324.

Wang, X., Thompson, M., Yang, K., Roy, D., Koedinger, K. R., Rose, C. P., & Reich, J. (2021). Practice-based teacher questioning strategy training with ELK: A role-playing simulation for eliciting learner knowledge. Proceedings of the ACM on Human-Computer Interaction, 5(CSCW1), Article 51.

Windschitl, M., Thompson, J., & Braaten, M. (2018). Ambitious science teaching. Harvard Education Press.