skip to main content

Title: Making sense of coding and robotics: Professional learning with elementary school teachers.
n this paper we described the process of four in-service elementary school teachers learning coding in a blended professional learning course developed and delivered through a federally funded research practice partnership project. We focused on the collective nature of learning and use activity theory (Engeström, 1999) to analyze connections among mediations, contradictions, and meaningful practices that were occurring for teachers in the course over time. The results showed that professional learning programs to support elementary teachers’ implementation of robotics and coding teaching and learning can systematically foster teachers’ collaboration in learning coding/robotics and developing lesson activities incorporating coding and robotics in meaningful ways in the day to day curriculum and teaching in their elementary classrooms.  more » « less
Award ID(s):
Author(s) / Creator(s):
Publisher / Repository:
AERA Online Paper Repository
Date Published:
Journal Name:
Annual meeting program American Educational Research Association
Medium: X
Sponsoring Org:
National Science Foundation
More Like this
  1. This research paper presents preliminary results of an NSF-supported interdisciplinary collaboration between undergraduate engineering students and preservice teachers. The fields of engineering and elementary education share similar challenges when it comes to preparing undergraduate students for the new demands they will encounter in their profession. Engineering students need interprofessional skills that will help them value and negotiate the contributions of various disciplines while working on problems that require a multidisciplinary approach. Increasingly, the solutions to today's complex problems must integrate knowledge and practices from multiple disciplines and engineers must be able to recognize when expertise from outside their field can enhance their perspective and ability to develop innovative solutions. However, research suggests that it is challenging even for professional engineers to understand the roles, responsibilities, and integration of various disciplines, and engineering curricula have traditionally left little room for development of non-technical skills such as effective communication with a range of audiences and an ability to collaborate in multidisciplinary teams. Meanwhile, preservice teachers need new technical knowledge and skills that go beyond traditional core content knowledge, as they are now expected to embed engineering into science and coding concepts into traditional subject areas. There are nationwide calls to integrate engineering and coding into PreK-6 education as part of a larger campaign to attract more students to STEM disciplines and to increase exposure for girls and minority students who remain significantly underrepresented in engineering and computer science. Accordingly, schools need teachers who have not only the knowledge and skills to integrate these topics into mainstream subjects, but also the intention to do so. However, research suggests that preservice teachers do not feel academically prepared and confident enough to teach engineering-related topics. This interdisciplinary project provided engineering students with an opportunity to develop interprofessional skills as well as to reinforce their technical knowledge, while preservice teachers had the opportunity to be exposed to engineering content, more specifically coding, and develop competence for their future teaching careers. Undergraduate engineering students enrolled in a computational methods course and preservice teachers enrolled in an educational technology course partnered to plan and deliver robotics lessons to fifth and sixth graders. This paper reports on the effects of this collaboration on twenty engineering students and eight preservice teachers. T-tests were used to compare participants’ pre-/post- scores on a coding quiz. A post-lesson written reflection asked the undergraduate students to describe their robotics lessons and what they learned from interacting with their cross disciplinary peers and the fifth/sixth graders. Content analysis was used to identify emergent themes. Engineering students’ perceptions were generally positive, recounting enjoyment interacting with elementary students and gaining communication skills from collaborating with non-technical partners. Preservice teachers demonstrated gains in their technical knowledge as measured by the coding quiz, but reported lacking the confidence to teach coding and robotics independently of their partner engineering students. Both groups reported gaining new perspectives from working in interdisciplinary teams and seeing benefits for the fifth and sixth grade participants, including exposing girls and students of color to engineering and computing. 
    more » « less
  2. This project, titled Collective Argumentation Learning and Coding (CALC), is based on our belief that if teachers had an instructional approach that allowed them to teach coding alongside mathematics and science in integrated ways, then coding would become a mainstream subject taught in the elementary school curriculum. However, few practicing elementary school teachers have the academic backgrounds that allow them to teach coding in a manner that goes beyond allowing students to learn how to code through trial-and-error experimentation and as an additive learning activity such as an after-school program. Current content and practice standards call for the use of argumentation in the teaching of mathematics and science. This project is focused on extending the collective argumentation framework for the teaching of mathematics to the teaching of coding. Teachers at our partnering school district have completed the first design of a prototype CALC course where they used collective argumentation to learn how to code educational robotics. At the end of this course, the teachers developed lesson plans that were implemented in grades 3, 4 and 5.This paper and conference presentation focused on the research question, how do elementary school teachers use the CALC approach to support their students’ learning of coding, mathematics, and science content and practices? Overall, the implementation of the CALC approach demonstrated the growth of the teachers in their ability to teach coding as a reasoning process and as a means to integrate it into everyday classroom activities. 
    more » « less
  3. Brown, Ryan ; Antink-Meyer, Allison (Ed.)
    Current education reforms call for engaging students in learning science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) in an integrative way. This critical case study of one fourth grade teacher investigated the use of educational robots (ER) not only for teaching coding, but as an instructional support in teaching mathematical concepts. To support teachers in teaching coding in an integrative and logical manner, our team developed the Collective Argumentation Learning and Coding (CALC) approach. The CALC approach consists of three elements: choice of task, coding content, and teacher support for argumentation. After a cohort of elementary teachers completed a professional development course, we followed them into their classrooms to support and document implementation of the CALC approach. Data for this case consisted of video recordings of two lessons, a Pre-interview, and Post-interview after each lesson. Research questions included: How does an elementary teacher use the CALC approach (integrative STEM approach) to teach mathematics concepts with ER? What are the teacher’s perspectives towards teaching mathematics with ER using an integrative STEM approach? Results from this critical case provide evidence that teachers can successfully integrate ER into the mathematics curriculum without losing coherence of mathematics topics and while remaining sensitive to students’ needs. 
    more » « less
  4. As a result of the increased inclusion of engineering and computer science standards for K-6 schools nationwide, there is a need to better understand how teacher educators can help develop preservice teachers’ (PSTs’) teaching self-efficacy in these areas. Ed+gineering provides novel opportunities for PSTs to experience teaching and learning engineering and coding content by building COVID-companion robots. Growing evidence supports robotics as a powerful approach to STEM learning for PSTs. In this study, Ed+gineering examined three cases to explore this overarching question: In what ways did PSTs’ virtual robotics project experience develop their self-efficacy for teaching engineering and coding? Three PST cases were examined, within the context of their work with other team members (i.e., undergraduate engineering student(s), 5th graders). To understand each of three PSTs’ virtual robotics project experiences, multiple data sources were collected and analyzed which includes mid- and post-semester CATME, end of course short-answer reflections, follow up interviews (including a modified Big Five personality inventory), and Zoom session recordings. Elementary PSTs Brenda, Erica, and Sarah experienced various levels of commitment and engagement in their five Zoom sessions. These factors, along with other personal and external influences, contributed to Bandura’s four identified sources of self-efficacy. This study examines these contributing factors to create an initial working model of how PSTs develop teaching self-efficacy. In this conference session, science teacher educators will learn more about this model and pedagogical decisions that seemed to influence PST’s self-efficacy for teaching engineering and computer science. 
    more » « less
  5. Abstract

    Knowing how science teachers develop their professional knowledge has been a challenge. One potential way to determine the professional knowledge of teachers is through videos. In the study described here, the authors recruited 60 elementary and secondary science teachers, showed them one of two 10‐min videos, and recorded and analyzed their comments when watching the videos. The coding focused on their noticing of student learning, teacher's teaching, types of teaching practices, and the use of interpretative frames. The noticing data were collected and analyzed to determine the differences between groups of teachers. The findings from the analysis indicated that most science teachers noticed the instruction of teachers rather than the learning of students, and these noticing events were often focused on general instructional practices as opposed to the science practices emphasized in theNext Generation Science Standards(National Research Council, 2013). The only difference between the teachers was in the area of evaluating the videos. Secondary science teachers and experienced elementary teachers were more likely to evaluate the videos than were novice elementary teachers. This may be a result of the knowledge base of the teachers. These results suggest a need for explicit reform‐based instruction and a revision of this research process.

    more » « less