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"Enhancing Pre-Service Teachers' Perceptions of Parenting: A Glimpse into My Virtual Child " icon

Enhancing Pre-Service Teachers' Perceptions of Parenting: A Glimpse into My Virtual Child 

The benefits and challenges of technology-enhanced or virtual field experiences have been discussed in the literature related to teacher education. However, no previous studies seem to have explored the possibilities of the My Virtual Child program. The purpose of this paper is to provide a glimpse into My Virtual Child and share ways in which the program enhanced pre-service teachers' perceptions of parenting. Pre-service teachers enrolled in an undergraduate online Children and Families course shared their perceptions – via reflection papers – of the effectiveness of the My Virtual Child program in relation to understanding parenting. Results reveal that pre-service teachers felt the experience had a positive impact on their thinking about parenting. Specifically, pre-service teachers felt the My Virtual Child program: (1) forced them to think more critically about parenting decisions; (2) gave them a new perspective on parenting and its effects on children's development; and (3) had relevance to real-life situations. The My Virtual Child program was utilized as a virtual field experience in order to provide pre-service teachers with an opportunity to gain insight into parenting and its influence on child development. Hopefully, this new insight into parenting will positively impact pre-service teachers' ability to work with children's families.

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