skip to main content


Title: Exploring Elementary Teachers’ Perceptions of Data Science and Curriculum Design through Professional Development
Data science and computational thinking (CT) skills are important STEM literacies necessary to make informed daily decisions. In elementary schools, particularly in rural areas, there is little instruction and limited research towards understanding and developing these literacies. Using a Research-Practice Partnership model (RPP; Coburn & Penuel, 2016) we conducted multimethod research investigating nine elementary teachers’ perceptions of data science and related curriculum design during professional development (PD). Connected Learning theory, enhanced with Universal Design for Learning, guided ways we assisted teachers in designing the data science curriculum. Findings suggest teachers maintained high levels of interest in data science instruction and CT before and after the PD and increased their self-efficacy towards teaching data science. A thematic analysis revealed how a data science framework guided curriculum design and assisted teachers in defining, understanding, and co-creating the curriculum. During curriculum design, teachers shared the workload among partners, made collaborative design choices, integrated differentiation strategies, and felt confidence towards teaching data science. Identified challenges included locating data sets and the complexity of understanding data science and related software. This study addresses the research gap in data science education for elementary teachers and assists with successful strategies for data science PD and curricular design.  more » « less
Award ID(s):
2031175
NSF-PAR ID:
10430704
Author(s) / Creator(s):
Editor(s):
Hartshorne, Richard
Date Published:
Journal Name:
Journal of technology and teacher education
Volume:
30
Issue:
4
ISSN:
1059-7069
Page Range / eLocation ID:
493-525
Format(s):
Medium: X
Sponsoring Org:
National Science Foundation
More Like this
  1. 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 foundation of a workshop introducing them to computational thinking. 
    more » « less
  2. Abstract. We investigated teacher learning within a professional development (PD) workshop series on computational thinking (CT) for elementary-level mentor teachers. The purpose of the PD was to prepare mentor teachers to support preservice teachers in integrating CT into their classroom practice, toward the broader goal of advancing CT for all in the early grades. We examined the ways in which participants collaboratively built on existing professional knowledge as they engaged in professional learning activities designed to introduce CT and related pedagogies for elementary science education. Our data sources were field notes, artifacts, drawings, written reflections, and focus group interviews. We describe how participants developed new understandings of CT integration and made connections to existing professional knowledge of their students, their curriculum, and their school contexts. We discuss implications for teacher learning and PD design relevant to CT, and make recommendations for future research. 
    more » « less
  3. The Maker Partnership Program (MPP) is an NSF-supported project that addresses the critical need for models of professional development (PD) and support that help elementary-level science teachers integrate computer science and computational thinking (CS and CT) into their classroom practices. The MPP aims to foster integration of these disciplines through maker pedagogy and curriculum. The MPP was designed as a research-practice partnership that allows researchers and practitioners to collaborate and iteratively design, implement and test the PD and curriculum. This paper describes the key elements of the MPP and early findings from surveys of teachers and students participating in the program. Our research focuses on learning how to develop teachers’ capacity to integrate CS and CT into elementary-level science instruction; understanding whether and how this integrated instruction promotes deeper student learning of science, CS and CT, as well as interest and engagement in these subjects; and exploring how the model may need to be adapted to fit local contexts. Participating teachers reported gaining knowledge and confidence for implementing the maker curriculum through the PDs. They anticipated that the greatest implementation challenges would be lack of preparation time, inaccessible computer hardware, lack of administrative support, and a lack of CS knowledge. Student survey results show that most participants were interested in CS and science at the beginning of the program. Student responses to questions about their disposition toward collaboration and persistence suggest some room for growth. Student responses to questions about who does CS are consistent with prevalent gender stereotypes (e.g., boys are naturally better than girls at computer programming), particularly among boys. 
    more » « less
  4. Massachusetts defined K-12 Digital Literacy/Computer Science (DLCS) standards in 2016 and developed a 5-12 teacher licensure process, expecting K-4 teachers to be capable of teaching to the standards under their elementary license. An NSF CSforAll planning grant led to the establishment of an NSF 4-year ResearchPractice Partnership (RPP) of district and school administrators, teachers, university researchers, and external evaluators in 2018. The RPP focused on the 33 K-5 serving schools to engage all students in integrated CS/CT teaching and learning and to create a cadre of skilled and confident elementary classroom teachers ready to support their students in learning CS/CT concepts and practices. The pandemic exacerbated barriers and inequities across the district, which serves over 25,000 diverse students (9.7% white/nonHispanic, 83.7% high needs). Having observed a lack of awareness and expertise among many K-5 teachers for implementing CS/CT content and practices and seeing barriers to equitable CS/CT teaching and learning, the RPP designed an iterative, teacher-led, co-design of curriculum supported by equity-focused and embedded professional learning. This experience report describes how we refined our strategies for curriculum development and diffusion, professional learning, and importantly, our commitment to addressing diversity, equity, and inclusion beyond just reaching all students. The RPP broadened its focus on understanding race and equity to empower students to understand how technology affects their identities and to equip them to critically participate in the creation and use of technology 
    more » « less
  5. This article describes a professional development (PD) model, the CT-Integration Cycle, that supports teachers in learning to integrate computational thinking (CT) and computer science principles into their middle school science and STEM instruction. The PD model outlined here includes collaborative design (codesign; Voogt et al., 2015) of curricular units aligned with the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) that use programmable sensors. Specifically, teachers can develop or modify curricular materials to ensure a focus on coherent, student-driven instruction through the investigation of scientific phenomena that are relevant to students and integrate CT and sensor technology. Teachers can implement these storylines and collaboratively reflect on their instructional practices and student learning. Throughout this process, teachers may develop expertise in CT-integrated science instruction as they plan and use instructional practices aligned with the NGSS and foreground CT. This paper describes an examination of a group of five middle school teachers’ experiences during one iteration of the CT-Integration Cycle, including their learning, planning, implementation, and reflection on a unit they codesigned. Throughout their participation in the PD, the teachers expanded their capacity to engage deeply with CT practices and thoughtfully facilitated a CT-integrated unit with their students. 
    more » « less