- Award ID(s):
- NSF-PAR ID:
- Date Published:
- Journal Name:
- SIGCSE '18: Proceedings of the 49th ACM Technical Symposium on Computer Science Education
- Page Range / eLocation ID:
- 664 to 669
- Medium: X
- Sponsoring Org:
- National Science Foundation
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null (Ed.)Our work is situated in research on Computer Science (CS) learning in informal learning environments and literature on the factors that influence girls to enter CS. In this article, we outline design choices around the creation of a summer programming camp for middle school youth. In addition, we describe a near-peer mentoring model we used that was influenced by Bandura's self-efficacy theory. The purpose of this article, apart from promoting transparency of program design, was to evaluate the effectiveness of our camp design in terms of increasing youths’ interest, self-efficacy beliefs, and perceptions of parental support. We found significant gains for all three of these concepts. Additionally, we make connections between our design choices (e.g., videos, peer support, mentor support) and the affective gains by thematically analyzing interview data concerning the outcomes found in our camps.more » « less
Program leaders put a tremendous amount of thought into how they recruit students for engineering summer camps. Recruitment methods can include information sessions, established partnerships with school districts, and teacher or school counselor nominations of students. This study seeks to assess if the methods used to recruit students broaden participation or have any impact on students’ perceptions of engineering. Two identical week-long summer camps were hosted by the University of Texas at Austin (UT Austin) in the summer of 2022. Camps were entirely free for all campers. A specific goal of the camp was to promote engineering as a career pathway for students from groups that have been historically excluded from STEM majors. Campers were rising 8th and 9th grade students in two cities near UT Austin; this age was intentionally identified as students who have sufficient STEM backgrounds to engage in meaningful engineering design challenges, and who are also at a critical inflection point with respect to decisions that put them on a trajectory to study engineering in college. Summer camp topics ranged from additive manufacturing to the chemical properties of water proofing, and students did activities such as constructing a prosthetic limb from recovered materials or designing an electronic dance game pad. In one camp session, students primarily found out about the camp by being nominated by counselors at their schools, with an intentional focus on recruiting students who might not otherwise be exposed to engineering. In the other camp session, parents signed up campers after hearing about the camp via information sent through the schools. All students who applied were accepted to the camps. Identical pre- and post-camp surveys asked campers questions about their knowledge of what engineers do, their interest in math and science, and what factors are important to them when choosing a career. Survey analysis showed that there were statistically significant differences in answers to questions between the groups in the pre-camp surveys, but post-camp surveys show that these differences disappeared after participating in the summer camp. Students whose parents directly enrolled them in the camp had higher pre-camp interest in science and technology; thus, counselor nominations may be a method to recruit students who might not have been interested in engineering had they not attended the camp. Additionally, prior to participating, campers recruited via counselor nominations had a narrower view of what engineers do than the parent-enrolled campers, but after camp the two groups had similar perceptions of what engineers do. The results of this study confirm literature findings regarding the importance of exposing young learners to engineering as a profession and broaden their views of opportunities in this field. The recruitment methods used for these camps show that nomination-based recruitment methods have the potential for greater impact on changing students’ engineering trajectories.more » « less
null (Ed.)In response to the need to broaden participation in computer science, we designed a summer camp to teach middle-school-aged youth to code apps with MIT App Inventor. For the past four summers, we have observed significant gains in youth's interest and self-efficacy in computer science, after attending our camps. The majority of these youth, however, were youth from our local community. To provide equal access across the state and secure more diversity, we were interested in examining the effect of the camp on a broader population of youth. Thus, we partnered with an outreach program to reach and test our camps on youth from low-income high-poverty areas in the Intermountain West. During the summer of 2019, we conducted two sets of camps: locally advertised app camps that attracted youth from our local community and a second set of camps as part of a larger outreach program for youth from low-income high-poverty areas. The camps for both populations followed the same design of personnel, camp activities, structure, and curriculum. However, the background of the participants was slightly different. Using survey data, we found that the local sample experienced significant gains in both self-efficacy and interest, while the outreach group only reported significant gains in self-efficacy after attending the camp. However, the qualitative data collected from the outreach participants indicated that they had a positive experience both with the camp and their mentors. In this article, we discuss the camp design and findings in relation to strategies for broadening participation in Computer Science education.more » « less
Providing adaptive scaffolds to help learners develop effective self‐regulated learning (SRL) behaviours has been an important goal for intelligent learning environments. Adaptive scaffolding is especially important in open‐ended learning environments (OELE), where novice learners often face difficulties in completing their learning tasks.
This paper presents a systematic framework for adaptive scaffolding in Betty's Brain, a learning‐by‐teaching OELE for middle school science, where students construct a causal model to teach a virtual agent, generically named Betty. We evaluate the adaptive scaffolding framework and discuss its implications on the development of more effective scaffolds for SRL in OELEs.
We detect key cognitive/metacognitive
inflection points, that is, moments where students' behaviours and performance change during learning, often suggesting an inability to apply effective learning strategies. At inflection points, Mr. Davis ( a mentor agent in Betty's Brain) or Betty ( the teachable agent) provides context‐specific conversational feedback, focusing on strategies to help the student become a more productive learner, or encouragement to support positive emotions. We conduct a classroom study with 98 middle schoolers to analyse the impact of adaptive scaffolds on students' learning behaviours and performance. We analyse how students with differential pre‐to‐post learning outcomes receive and use the scaffolds to support their subsequent learning process in Betty's Brain. Results and Conclusions
Adaptive scaffolding produced mixed results, with some scaffolds (viz., strategic hints that supported debugging and assessment of causal models) being generally more useful to students than others (viz., encouragement prompts). Additionally, there were differences in how students with high versus low learning outcomes responded to some hints, as suggested by the differences in their learning behaviours and performance in the intervals after scaffolding. Overall, our findings suggest how adaptive scaffolding in OELEs like Betty's Brain can be further improved to better support SRL behaviours and narrow the learning outcomes gap between high and low performing students.
This paper contributes to our understanding and impact of adaptive scaffolding in OELEs. The results of our study indicate that successful scaffolding has to combine context‐sensitive inflection points with conversational feedback that is tailored to the students' current proficiency levels and needs. Also, our conceptual framework can be used to design adaptive scaffolds that help students develop and apply SRL behaviours in other computer‐based learning environments.
Prekindergarten to 12th-grade teachers of computer science (CS) face many challenges, including isolation, limited CS professional development resources, and low levels of CS teaching self-efficacy that could be mitigated through communities of practice (CoPs). This study used survey data from 420 PK–12 CS teacher members of a virtual CoP, CS for All Teachers, to examine the needs of these teachers and how CS teaching self-efficacy, community engagement, and sharing behaviors vary by teachers’ instructional experiences and school levels taught. Results show that CS teachers primarily join the CoP to gain high-quality pedagogical, assessment, and instructional resources. The study also found that teachers with more CS teaching experience have higher levels of self-efficacy and are more likely to share resources than teachers with less CS teaching experience. Moreover, teachers who instruct students at higher grade levels (middle and high school) have higher levels of CS teaching self-efficacy than do teachers who instruct lower grade levels (elementary school). These results suggest that CoPs can help CS teachers expand their professional networks, gain more professional development resources, and increase CS teaching self-efficacy by creating personalized experiences that consider teaching experience and grade levels taught when guiding teachers to relevant content. This study lays the foundation for future explorations of how CS education–focused CoPs could support the expansion of CS education in PK–12 schools.