Bulletin News

Lecturer to Focus on School Simulations


Future teachers and those interested in teacher education will learn how role-playing can improve classroom interactions during a SUNY Cortland lecture Tuesday, Oct. 30.

“From What You Know to What You Can Do: Simulated Interaction Models to Enhance Teacher Preparation” takes place at 7:15 p.m. in Sperry Center, Room 205.

The discussion is free and open to the public.

Benjamin Dotger, an associate professor of teaching and leadership at Syracuse University, will lead the lecture. A short reception with refreshments precedes the talk and a question-and-answer session will follow.

Dotger’s approach to preparing future teachers borrows from the medical school curriculum, which puts aspiring doctors in simulated situations with standardized patients. He’s credited with implementing the Standardized Parent Conferencing Model, a teacher development tool that uses role-playing parents and students to act out interactions a teacher may encounter in the classroom.

“Students might be student teaching or observing in the classroom but sometimes they don’t have those interactions that they’re going to encounter,” said Kerri Freese, the College’s Noyce Project coordinator. “He’s created these situations for future teachers so they’re prepared in the field.”

Through a partnership with SUNY Upstate Medical University in Syracuse, N.Y., Dotger also developed the School Leader Communication Model, a tool that extends the use of simulations to the preparation of school leaders.

He will discuss simulation examples and procedures during his SUNY Cortland talk, outlining both the research and instructional potential of role-playing. His concluding remarks will emphasize recent efforts with the simulation method, focusing specifically on mathematics and science scenarios in a secondary education context.

Dotger’s ties with SUNY Cortland date back more than a year, to when he served as a keynote speaker at the National Science Foundation Noyce Regional Conference, an event co-hosted by the College. He received high marks in conference evaluations and both pre-service and current teachers showed an interest in learning more about his methods.

Currently, he’s working with SUNY Cortland students and faculty members with his science, technology, engineering and math trial simulations.

Freese likened the experience to a driving simulator.

“Unless a teacher invites a student-teacher to lead a parent-teacher conference or a meeting with a struggling math student, the student-teacher isn’t going to necessarily have every imaginable experience,” she said. “It’s that real, live experience he’s trying to replicate. With enough rehearsal of sensitive situations, the right words will come more easily.”

The Arthur Vining Davis Foundations, the Spencer Foundation, the Ewing Marian Kauffman Foundation, the Institute for Education Sciences and the National Science Foundation support Dotger’s work.

He holds bachelor’s and master’s degrees in English education from Elon University and the University of North Carolina at Charlotte, respectively, and a doctorate in philosophy from North Carolina State University.

Dotger’s SUNY Cortland lecture is sponsored by the Campus Artist and Lecture Series; the Chemistry and Mathematics departments; the SUNY Cortland Noyce Project; the Education Club; and the Office of the Assistant Provost for Teacher Education.

For more information, contact Freese.