skip to main content

Title: A Case Study of Teacher Professional Growth Through Co-design and Implementation of Computationally Enriched Biology Units
Teachers in K-12 science classrooms play a key role in helping their students engage in computational thinking (CT) activities that reflect authentic science practices. However, we know less about how to support teachers in integrating CT into their classrooms. This paper presents a case of one science teacher over three years as she participated in a Design Based Implementation Research project focused on integrating CT into science curriculum. We analyze her professional growth as a designer and instructor as she created and implemented three computationally-enriched science units with the support of our research team. Results suggest that she became more confident in her understanding of and ability, leading to greater integration of CT in the science units. Relationships with the research team and co-design experiences mediated this growth. Findings yield implications for how best to support teachers in collaborative curriculum design.
Authors:
Editors:
Gresalfi, M. and
Award ID(s):
1842374
Publication Date:
NSF-PAR ID:
10199156
Journal Name:
ICLS 2020
Volume:
4
Page Range or eLocation-ID:
1950-1957
Sponsoring Org:
National Science Foundation
More Like this
  1. Background/Context: After-school programs that focus on integrating computer programming and mathematics in authentic environments are seldomly accessible to students from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds, particularly bilingual Latina students in rural contexts. Providing a context that broadens Latina students’ participation in mathematics and computer programming requires educators to carefully examine how verbal and nonverbal language is used to interact and to position students as they learn new concepts in middle school. This is also an important stage for adolescents because they are likely to make decisions about their future careers in STEM. Having access to discourse and teaching practices that invite students to participate in mathematics and computer programming affords them opportunities to engage with these fields. Purpose/Focus of Study: This case study analyzes how small-group interactions mediated the positionings of Cindy, a bilingual Latina, as she learned binary numbers in an after-school program that integrated computer programming and mathematics (CPM). Setting: The Advancing Out-of-School Learning in Mathematics and Engineering (AOLME) program was held in a rural bilingual (Spanish and English) middle school in the Southwest. The after-school program was designed to provide experiences for primarily Latinx students to learn how to integrate mathematics with computer programming using Raspberry Pimore »and Python as a platform. Our case study explores how Cindy was positioned as she interacted with two undergraduate engineering students who served as facilitators while learning binary numbers with a group of three middle school students. Research Design: This single intrinsic case focused on exploring how small-group interactions among four students mediated Cindy’s positionings as she learned binary numbers through her participation in AOLME. Data sources included twelve 90-minute video sessions and Cindy’s journal and curriculum binder. Video logs were created, and transcripts were coded to describe verbal and nonverbal interactions among the facilitators and Cindy. Analysis of select episodes was conducted using systemic functional linguistics (SFL), specifically language modality, to identify how positioning took place. These episodes and positioning analysis describe how Cindy, with others, navigated the process of learning binary numbers under the stereotype that female students are not as good at mathematics as male students. Findings: From our analysis, three themes that emerged from the data portray Cindy’s experiences learning binary numbers. The major themes are: (1) Cindy’s struggle to reveal her understanding of binary numbers in a competitive context, (2) Cindy’s use of “fake it until you make it” to hide her cognitive dissonance, and (3) the use of Spanish and peers’ support to resolve Cindy’s understanding of binary numbers. The positioning patterns observed help us learn how, when Cindy’s bilingualism was viewed and promoted as an asset, this social context worked as a generative axis that addressed the challenges of learning binary numbers. The contrasting episodes highlight the facilitators’ productive teaching strategies and relations that nurtured Cindy’s social and intellectual participation in CPM. Conclusions/Recommendations: Cindy’s case demonstrates how the facilitator’s teaching, and participants’ interactions and discourse practices contributed to her qualitatively different positionings while she learned binary numbers, and how she persevered in this process. Analysis of communication acts supported our understanding of how Cindy’s positionings underpinned the discourse; how the facilitators’ and students’ discourse formed, shaped, or shifted Cindy’s positioning; and how discourse was larger than gender storylines that went beyond classroom interactions. Cindy’s case reveals the danger of placing students in “struggle” instead of a “productive struggle.” The findings illustrated that when Cindy was placed in struggle when confronting responding moves by the facilitator, her “safe” reaction was hiding and avoiding. In contrast, we also learned about the importance of empathetic, nurturing supporting responses that encourage students’ productive struggle to do better. We invite instructors to notice students’ hiding or avoiding and consider Cindy’s case. Furthermore, we recommend that teachers notice their choice of language because this is important in terms of positioning students. We also highlight Cindy’s agency as she chose to take up her friend’s suggestion to “fake it” rather than give up.« less
  2. This research paper describes a study of elementary teacher learning in an online graduate program in engineering education for in-service teachers. While the existing research on teachers in engineering focuses on their disciplinary understandings and beliefs (Hsu, Cardella, & Purzer, 2011; Martin, et al., 2015; Nadelson, et al., 2015; Van Haneghan, et al., 2015), there is increasing attention to teachers' pedagogy in engineering (Capobianco, Delisi, & Radloff, 2018). In our work, we study teachers' pedagogical sense-making and reflection, which, we argue, is critical for teaching engineering design. This study takes place in [blinded] program, in which teachers take four graduate courses over fifteen months. The program was designed to help teachers not only learn engineering content, but also shift their thinking and practice to be more responsive to their students. Two courses focus on pedagogy, including what it means to learn engineering and instructional approaches to support this learning. These courses consist of four main elements, in which teachers: 1) Read data-rich engineering education articles to reflect on learning engineering; 2) Participate in online video clubs, looking at classroom videos of students’ engineering and commenting on what they notice; 3) Conduct interviews with learners about the mechanism of a pull-backmore »car; and 4) Plan and teach engineering lessons, collecting and analyzing video from their classrooms. In the context of this program, we ask: what stances do teachers take toward learning and teaching engineering design? What shifts do we observe in their stances? We interviewed teachers at the start of the program and after each course. In addition to reflecting on their learning and teaching, teachers watched videos of students’ engineering and discussed what they saw as relevant for teaching engineering. We informally compared summaries from previous interviews to get a sense of changes in how participants talked about engineering, how they approached teaching engineering, and what they noticed in classroom videos. Through this process, we identified one teacher to focus on for this paper: Alma is a veteran 3rd-5th grade science teacher in a rural, racially-diverse public school in the southeastern region of the US. We then developed content logs of Alma's interviews and identified emergent themes. To refine these themes, we looked for confirming and disconfirming evidence in the interviews and in her coursework in the program. We coded each interview for these themes and developed analytic memos, highlighting where we saw variability and stability in her stances and comparing across interviews to describe shifts in Alma's reasoning. It was at this stage that we narrowed our focus to her stances toward the engineering design process (EDP). In this paper, we describe and illustrate shifts we observed in Alma's reasoning, arguing that she exhibited dramatic shifts in her stances toward teaching and learning the EDP. At the start of the program, she was stable in treating the EDP as a series of linear steps that students and engineers progress through. After engaging and reflecting on her own engineering in the first course, she started to express a more fluid stance when talking more abstractly about the EDP but continued to take it up as a linear process in her classroom teaching. By the end of the program, Alma exhibited a growing stability across contexts in her stance toward the EDP as a fluid set of overlapping practices that students and engineers could engage in.« less
  3. In the decades since Papert published Mindstorms (1980), computation has transformed nearly every branch of scientific practice. Accordingly, there is increasing recognition that computation and computational thinking (CT) must be a core part of STEM education in a broad range of subjects. Previous work has demonstrated the efficacy of incorporating computation into STEM courses and introduced a taxonomy of CT practices in STEM. However, this work rarely involved teachers as more than implementers of units designed by researchers. In The Children’s Machine, Papert asked “What can be done to mobilize the potential force for change inherent in the position of teachers?” (Papert, 1994, pg. 79). We argue that involving teachers as co-design partners supports them to be cultural change agents in education. We report here on the first phase of a research project in which we worked with STEM educators to co-design curricular science units that incorporate computational thinking and practices. Eight high school teachers and one university professor joined nine members of our research team for a month-long Computational Thinking Summer Institute (CTSI). The co-design process was a constructionist design and learning experience for both the teachers and researchers. We focus here on understanding the co-design process and itsmore »implications for teachers by asking: (1) How did teachers shift in their attitudes and confidence regarding CT? (2) What different co-design styles emerged and did any tensions arise? Generally, we found that teachers gained confidence and skills in CT and computational tools over the course of the summer. Only one teacher reported a decrease in confidence in one aspect of CT (computational modeling), but this seemed to result from gaining a broader and more nuanced understanding of this rich area. A range of co-design styles emerged over the summer. Some teachers chose to focus on designing the curriculum and advising on the computational tools to be used in it, while leaving the construction of those tools to their co-designers. Other teachers actively participated in constructing models and computational tools themselves. The pluralism of co-design styles allowed teachers of various comfort levels with computation to meaningfully contribute to a computationally enhanced constructionist curriculum. However, it also led to a tension for some teachers between working to finish their curriculum versus gaining experience with computational tools. In the time crunch to complete their unit during CTSI, some teachers chose to save time by working on the curriculum while their co-design partners (researchers) created the supporting computational tools. These teachers still grew in their computational sophistication, but they could not devote as much time as they wanted to their own computational learning.« less
  4. Kong, S.C. (Ed.)
    This work aims to help high school STEM teachers integrate computational thinking (CT) into their classrooms by engaging teachers as curriculum co-designers. K-12 teachers who are not trained in computer science may not see the value of CT in STEM classrooms and how to engage their students in computational practices that reflect the practices of STEM professionals. To this end, we developed a 4-week professional development workshop for eight science and mathematics high school teachers to co-design computationally enhanced curriculum with our team of researchers. The workshop first provided an introduction to computational practices and tools for STEM education. Then, teachers engaged in co-design to enhance their science and mathematics curricula with computational practices in STEM. Data from surveys and interviews showed that teachers learned about computational thinking, computational tools, coding, and the value of collaboration after the professional development. Further, they were able to integrate multiple computational tools that engage their students in CT-STEM practices. These findings suggest that teachers can learn to use computational practices and tools through workshops, and that teachers collaborating with researchers in co-design to develop computational enhanced STEM curriculum may be a powerful way to engage students and teachers with CT in K-12 classrooms.
  5. In this poster, we will present approaches and associated design principles for integrating computational thinking (CT) into middle school Social Studies, Arts, and Language Arts instruction to en- hance disciplinary learning. We used four steps to identify these ap- proaches and design principles: (1) co-design with teachers and ex- perts in computer science and CT education to ideate CT-integrated lessons; (2) research team meetings to identify initial design prin- ciples based on the ideated lessons; (3) consultation with subject matter experts; and (4) conducting a Delphi study with pedagogical experts (e.g., teachers, curriculum writers, teacher educators) to examine the clarity, feasibility and potential impact of the design principles. The process led to three broad approaches to integrate CT into Social Studies instruction that included 14 design principles, three for Arts with 16 design principles, and four for Language Arts with 13 design principles.