skip to main content

Title: Starting from Scratch: Outcomes of Early Computer Science Learning Experiences and Implications for What Comes Next
Visual block-based programming environments (VBBPEs) such as Scratch and Alice are increasingly being used in introductory computer science lessons across elementary school grades. These environments, and the curricula that accompany them, are designed to be developmentally-appropriate and engaging for younger learners but may introduce challenges for future computer science educators. Using the final projects of 4th, 5th, and 6th grade students who completed an introductory curriculum using a VBBPE, this paper focuses on patterns that show success within the context of VBBPEs but could pose potential challenges for teachers of follow-up computer science instruction. This paper focuses on three specific strategies observed in learners' projects: (1) wait blocks being used to manage program execution, (2) the use of event-based programming strategies to produce parallel outcomes, and (3) the coupling of taught concepts to curricular presentation. For each of these outcomes, we present data on how the course materials supported them, what learners achieved while enacting them, and the implications the strategy poses for future educators. We then discuss possible design and pedagogical responses. The contribution of this work is that it identifies early computer science learning strategies, contextualizes them within developmentally-appropriate environments, and discusses their implications with respect to future more » pedagogy. This paper advances our understanding of the role of VBBPEs in introductory computing and their place within the larger K-12 computer science trajectory. « less
Authors:
; ; ;
Award ID(s):
1738758
Publication Date:
NSF-PAR ID:
10074098
Journal Name:
ICER '18 Proceedings of the 2018 ACM Conference on International Computing Education Research
Page Range or eLocation-ID:
142 to 150
Sponsoring Org:
National Science Foundation
More Like this
  1. To meet the rising demand for computer science (CS) courses, K-12 educators need to be prepared to teach introductory concepts and skills in courses such as Computer Science Principles (CSP), which takes a breadth-first approach to CS and includes topics beyond programming such as data, impacts of computing, and networks. Educators are now also being asked to teach more advanced concepts in courses such as the College Board's Advanced Placement Computer Science A (CSA) course, which focuses on advanced programming using Java and includes topics such as objects, inheritance, arrays, and recursion. Traditional CSA curricula have not used content or pedagogy designed to engage a broad range of learners and support their success. Unlike CSP, which is attracting more underrepresented students to computing as it was designed, CSA continues to enroll mostly male, white, and Asian students [College Board 2019, Ericson 2020, Sax 2020]. In order to expand CS education opportunities, it is crucial that students have an engaging experience in CSA similar to CSP. Well-designed differentiated professional development (PD) that focuses on content and pedagogy is necessary to meet individual teacher needs, to successfully build teacher skills and confidence to teach CSA, and to improve engagement with students [Darling-Hammondmore »2017]. It is critical that as more CS opportunities and courses are developed, teachers remain engaged with their own learning in order to build their content knowledge and refine their teaching practice [CSTA 2020]. CSAwesome, developed and piloted in 2019, offers a College Board endorsed AP CSA curriculum and PD focused on supporting the transition of teachers and students from CSP to CSA. This poster presents preliminary findings aimed at exploring the supports and challenges new-to-CSA high school level educators face when transitioning from teaching an introductory, breadth-first course such as CSP to teaching the more challenging, programming-focused CSA course. Five teachers who completed the online CSAwesome summer 2020 PD completed interviews in spring 2021. The project employed an inductive coding scheme to analyze interview transcriptions and qualitative notes from teachers about their experiences learning, teaching, and implementing CSP and CSA curricula. Initial findings suggest that teachers’ experience in the CSAwesome PD may improve their confidence in teaching CSA, ability to effectively use inclusive teaching practices, ability to empathize with their students, problem-solving skills, and motivation to persist when faced with challenges and difficulties. Teachers noted how the CSAwesome PD provided them with a student perspective and increased feelings of empathy. Participants spoke about the implications of the COVID-19 pandemic on their own learning, student learning, and teaching style. Teachers enter the PD with many different backgrounds, CS experience levels, and strengths, however, new-to-CSA teachers require further PD on content and pedagogy to transition between CSP and CSA. Initial results suggest that the CSAwesome PD may have an impact on long-term teacher development as new-to-CSA teachers who participated indicated a positive impact on their teaching practices, ideologies, and pedagogies.« less
  2. Computers are used in almost all the fields in our daily life –they are used in various occupations and do the tasks with greater precision and as a result, made the life more comfortable. As such, more than 500,000 computing jobs remain unfulfilled in the US (Reported by app association), and many nations need more computer scientist. Therefore, this urge the need for engineering education community and researchers to focus more on underrepresentation of women in CS due to the fact that women currently comprise only 15.7% of computing degrees awarded ; Computer Science has one of the most considerable gender disparities in science, technology, and engineering and the number of female students choosing computer science as their major remains underrepresented regardless of recent improvements; and the reason behind this statistic is the challenges that lessen students’ motivation in CS majors; Programming courses have always had a negative image among students and usually need more practice. In order to increase the number of female students in CS and ensure the health of the community, there is a need to better understand and discover a mechanism that can improve women’s participation in computer science which leads to attracting more female studentsmore »in computer science. Researchers have explored various engagements strategies in the fields of computer science. One of the strategies that have seen an increase and garnered attention in the last two decades is the use of video game elements or gamification in different fields such as education. Gamification -which usually refers to using video game mechanics in activities not related to video games - aims to increase participants’ engagement and enjoyment. This notion has been increasing popularity over time especially among especially education researchers because game elements -which provide challenges to the players and motivate them to set goals- can be used in learning environments appropriately to enhance the motivation of learners. While there is a strong body of literature around the implications of gamification on student learning, there are inconsistent results in the literature with regards to the interests or attitudes of women. This review aims to provide a critical evaluation of the use of gamification in the application in the existing literature in 1) education 2) computer science and 3) women in computer science to provide a basis for more targeted learning engagement strategies to motivate and retain more women in computing fields and build on the literature on gamification and gender.« less
  3. Purpose This study aims to present theory, practice and original research findings to support the proposition that broad enquiry and problem-based learning (EPBL) approaches provide an appropriate pedagogical lens for sustainability educators to develop the knowledge and skills needed to work effectively within mission-oriented innovation policy (MIP) environments. Design/methodology/approach The research study comprised four elements, each of which used different research methods. The first element involved a literature review mapping the synergies between MIP and EPBL; the second element piloted the use of EPBL for undergraduate modules related to sustainability challenges; the third element involved external stakeholders in the co-creation of a postgraduate programme that brought together innovation and sustainability, with EPBL fundamental to the design and development; the fourth element curated and comparatively analysed international cases of EPBL in the context of MIP, and sustainability challenges in particular, highlighting the versatility of EPBL and the importance of creativity in EPBL design and implementation. Findings The systematic literature review reveals synergies between the key features of EPBL and defining characteristics of MIP, indicating the relevance of applying EPBL to support MIP. Two in situ pilots generated 13 recommendations on the benefits and operational challenges of applying EPBL. These recommendations informedmore »the design and development of a postgraduate programme, involving a transdisciplinary consultation process with key industrial and societal stakeholders. Comparative analysis of four international case studies describing EPBL applied in practice in different international settings show there is no “one size fits all”. Instead, the application of EPBL to different sustainability challenges and for different learner groups demonstrates the versatility of the pedagogical approach and the creativity of the sustainability educators. Originality/value A discourse around the appropriate pedagogical methods and teaching/learning practice to equip the current and future workforce with the knowledge and skills to respond to MIP and global sustainability challenges is nascent but emerging. This paper makes a scientific and practical contribution to the discourse. The authors show how EPBL can underpin the design of programmes to provide learners with the knowledge and skills to support organisations working effectively within an MIP context, especially addressing sustainability challenges. The authors provide recommendations for educators seeking to embed EPBL within their curriculum and call for external stakeholders to proactively engage with educators to co-create programmes with context-specific outcomes.« less
  4. Rafferty, Anna N. ; Whitehill, Jacob ; Cavalli-Sforza, Violetta ; Romero, Cristobal (Ed.)
    Teamwork, often mediated by version control systems such as Git and Apache Subversion (SVN), is central to professional programming. As a consequence, many colleges are incorporating both collaboration and online development environments into their curricula even in introductory courses. In this research, we collected GitHub logs from two programming projects in two offerings of a CS2 Java programming course for computer science majors. Students worked in pairs for both projects (one optional, the other mandatory) in each year. We used the students’ GitHub history to classify the student teams into three groups, collaborative, cooperative, or solo-submit, based on the division of labor. We then calculated different metrics for students’ teamwork including the total number and the average number of commits in different parts of the projects and used these metrics to predict the students’ teamwork style. Our findings show that we can identify the students’ teamwork style automatically from their submission logs. This work helps us to better understand novices’ habits while using version control systems. These habits can identify the harmful working styles among them and might lead to the development of automatic scaffolds for teamwork and peer support in the future.
  5. This paper examines the use of Imaginative Education (IE) to create an NGSS-aligned middle school engineering curriculum that supports transfer and the development of STEM identity. In IE, cognitive tools—such as developmentally appropriate narratives, mysteries and fantasies— are used to design learning environments that both engage learners and help them organize knowledge productively. We have combined IE with transmedia storytelling to develop two multi-week engineering units and six shorter engineering lessons. An overview of the curriculum developed to date and a more detailed description of the engineering design unit is presented in this paper. The curriculum is currently being implemented in treatment and non-treatment classrooms in middle schools throughout the Springfield, MA public school system (SPS). In tandem with pilot-year implementation of the curriculum, we have developed an assessment instrument to measure student learning outcomes associated with a transfer variant known as preparation for future learning (PFL). An analysis of the results from the PFL assessment support the position that a curriculum employing IE cognitive tools can facilitate both transfer-in thinking and the capacity of students to “think with” and thereby interpret important engineering concepts.