(May 24, 2021) — Tristan Glenn had an “aha” moment during a demonstration of the Bagwell College of Education’s avatar laboratory.
The lab utilizes mixed-reality technology to simulate scenarios teachers can encounter
through interactions with digital avatars of students that all have their own unique
personalities. Glenn, an associate professor of special education in the BCOE’s Department of Inclusive Education, participated in a simulated parent-teacher conference.
“Immediately, a light bulb went on, and I said, ‘This could be the next wave of my
scholarship,’” Glenn explained.
Glenn’s research focuses on culturally responsive teaching, the practice of relating
educational content to students’ cultural backgrounds in order to be effective in
multicultural classrooms. Understanding the factors that contribute to every student’s
cultural identity – including race, ethnicity, gender, region and family – can help
teachers engage with students and foster a sense of belonging, according to Glenn.
“My scholarship aligns with developing teachers who, regardless of their own background,
are capable and committed to having the knowledge, skills and dispositions needed
to teach children who are culturally, linguistically and racially diverse,” Glenn
Always looking to enhance the process, Glenn has incorporated mixed-reality into his
teacher training. He recently completed a study that involved several teacher candidates
in the Bagwell College using the avatar lab to teach lesson plans in simulated classes
of diverse students.
“I found that the students who used the mixed-reality simulation to teach experienced
considerably more growth than those who didn’t, in terms of believing in their ability
to conduct culturally responsive teaching,” Glenn said.
Considering his commitment to diversity in education, Glenn has been selected to lead
the College’s new Call Me MISTER (Mentors Instructing Students Toward Effective Role
Models) program. Through a grant from Georgia Power, the initiative will provide academic
support, mentorship, tuition assistance and job placement assistance to help increase
the number of African American males in the teaching profession.
The Bagwell College is recruiting applicants among incoming freshmen and current students
and will welcome its inaugural cohort this fall.
“For me, all of this is a convergence of learning and thinking how to improve schools
for historically minoritized populations – children of color, children with disabilities,
children from high-need, high-poverty settings,” Glenn said. “This is a culmination
of all that work.”
– Paul Floeckher
Photos by Jason Getz
A leader in innovative teaching and learning, Kennesaw State University offers more than 150 undergraduate, graduate and doctoral degrees to its more than 41,000 students. With 11 colleges on two metro Atlanta campuses, Kennesaw State is a member of the University System of Georgia and the second-largest university in the state. The university’s vibrant campus culture, diverse population, strong global ties and entrepreneurial spirit draw students from throughout the region and from 126 countries across the globe. Kennesaw State is a Carnegie-designated doctoral research institution (R2), placing it among an elite group of only 6 percent of U.S. colleges and universities with an R1 or R2 status. For more information, visit kennesaw.edu.