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

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.