In order to create professional development experiences, curriculum materials, and policies that support elementary school teachers to embed computational thinking (CT) in their teaching, researchers and teacher educators must under- stand ways teachers see CT as connecting to their classroom practices. Taking the viewpoint that teachers’ initial ideas about CT can serve as useful resources on which to build ed- ucational experiences, we interviewed 12 elementary school teachers to probe their understanding of six components of CT (abstraction, algorithmic thinking, automation, debug- ging, decomposition, and generalization) and how those com- ponents relate to their math and science teaching. Results suggested that teachers saw stronger connections between CT and their mathematics instruction than between CT and their science instruction. We also found that teachers draw upon their existing knowledge of CT-related terminology to make connections to their math and science instruction that could be leveraged in professional development. Teachers were, however, concerned about bringing CT into teaching due to limited class time and the difficulties of addressing high level CT in developmentally appropriate ways. We discuss these results and their implications future research and the design of professional development, sharing examples of how we used teachers’ initial ideas as the foundationmore »
Workshops and Co-design Can Help Teachers Integrate Computational Thinking into Their K-12 STEM Classes
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.
- Kong, S.C.
- Award ID(s):
- Publication Date:
- NSF-PAR ID:
- Journal Name:
- Proceedings of International Conference on Computational Thinking Education 2020
- Page Range or eLocation-ID:
- Sponsoring Org:
- National Science Foundation
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