skip to main content


Title: Teaching Elementary Mathematics with Educational Robotics
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
Award ID(s):
1741910
NSF-PAR ID:
10472073
Author(s) / Creator(s):
; ; ; ; ;
Editor(s):
Brown, Ryan; Antink-Meyer, Allison
Publisher / Repository:
The Association of sTEm Teacher Education
Date Published:
Journal Name:
Journal of STEM Teacher Education
Volume:
57
Issue:
1
ISSN:
2158-6594
Format(s):
Medium: X
Sponsoring Org:
National Science Foundation
More Like this
  1. Sacristán, A.I. ; Cortés-Zavala, J.C. ; Ruiz-Arias, P.M. (Ed.)
    Collective Argumentation Learning and Coding (CALC) is a project focused on providing teachers with strategies to engage students in collective argumentation in mathematics, science, and coding. Collective argumentation can be characterized by any instance where multiple people (teachers and students) work together to establish a claim and provide evidence to support it (Conner et al., 2014b). Collective argumentation is an effective approach for promoting critical and higher order thinking and supporting students’ ability to articulate and justify claims. The goal of the CALC project is to help elementary school teachers extend the use of collective argumentation from teaching mathematics and science to teaching coding. Doing so increases the probability that teachers will integrate coding in regular classroom instruction, making it accessible to all students. This project highlighted Gloria (pseudonym), a fourth-grade teacher from Cohort 1 because of the extent to which she went from fear of coding to fluent implementation. Initially, Gloria was comfortable engaging her students in argumentation, explaining they already used it in mathematics with Cognitively Guided Instruction (CGI). However, she was “terrified” about learning to code because she didn’t view herself as proficient with technology. She was willing to overcome her fear of coding because she saw the value in providing her students with coding experiences that would help them develop the necessary skills for our increasingly technological society. In the course of three months, Gloria’s instruction progressed from using simple coding activities to more sophisticated coding platforms. This progression in her coding instruction paralleled the change in her personal feelings about coding as she moved from “terrified” to “comfortable with it”. 
    more » « less
  2. The Next Generation Science Standards [1] recognized evidence-based argumentation as one of the essential skills for students to develop throughout their science and engineering education. Argumentation focuses students on the need for quality evidence, which helps to develop their deep understanding of content [2]. Argumentation has been studied extensively, both in mathematics and science education but also to some extent in engineering education (see for example [3], [4], [5], [6]). After a thorough search of the literature, we found few studies that have considered how teachers support collective argumentation during engineering learning activities. The purpose of this program of research was to support teachers in viewing argumentation as an important way to promote critical thinking and to provide teachers with tools to implement argumentation in their lessons integrating coding into science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (which we refer to as integrative STEM). We applied a framework developed for secondary mathematics [7] to understand how teachers support collective argumentation in integrative STEM lessons. This framework used Toulmin’s [8] conceptualization of argumentation, which includes three core components of arguments: a claim (or hypothesis) that is based on data (or evidence) accompanied by a warrant (or reasoning) that relates the data to the claim [9], [8]. To adapt the framework, video data were coded using previously established methods for analyzing argumentation [7]. In this paper, we consider how the framework can be applied to an elementary school teacher’s classroom interactions and present examples of how the teacher implements various questioning strategies to facilitate more productive argumentation and deeper student engagement. We aim to understand the nature of the teacher’s support for argumentation—contributions and actions from the teacher that prompt or respond to parts of arguments. In particular, we look at examples of how the teacher supports students to move beyond unstructured tinkering (e.g., trial-and-error) to think logically about coding and develop reasoning for the choices that they make in programming. We also look at the components of arguments that students provide, with and without teacher support. Through the use of the framework, we are able to articulate important aspects of collective argumentation that would otherwise be in the background. The framework gives both eyes to see and language to describe how teachers support collective argumentation in integrative STEM classrooms. 
    more » « less
  3. 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
  4. This project investigates the potential of the Collective Argumentation Learning and Coding (CALC) concept for integrating the teaching of computer coding and other computer science content into the standard practices already used to teach different elementary (grades 3-5) curriculum content. Elementary school teachers significantly influence student motivation to engage in coding and are being asked to provide increased instruction on coding. Unfortunately, few practicing teachers have academic backgrounds in computer coding. This project aims to identify the knowledge needed to transform the CALC concept into a learning practice in which young, novice programmers use the argumentation framework to develop coding sequences. Why? Suppose computer coding is an integral part of teaching mathematics and science subject areas. In that case, the concerns that coding is a distraction to core subjects might decline, and administrative support for teaching coding might increase. We believe this work should be done at the elementary school level, better preparing more students and underrepresented groups for STEM subjects taught in the upper grades 
    more » « less
  5. This project, titled Collective Argumentation Learning and Coding (CALC), aims to use the principles of collective argumentation to teach coding through appropriate reasoning. Creating and critiquing arguments as part of a coding activity promotes a more structured approach rather than the trial-and-error coding activity commonly used by novice programmers. Teaching coding via collective argumentation allows teachers to use methods that are already in use in mathematics and science instruction to teach coding, thus increasing the probability that it will be taught in conjunction with mathematics and science as regular parts of classroom instruction rather than relegated to an after-school or enrichment activity for only some students. Specific objectives of the CALC project are to - increase the attention that coding is given in the elementary classrooms taught by our participating teachers, and -direct students away from informal approaches (e.g.trial-and-error) to develop code to the more formal, structured approach recommended for novice programmers. Our research activities investigate teachers’ understanding of argumentation using the CALC concept and how the implementation of the CALC concept helps students (grades 3-5) learn how to code. The CALC approach supports the learning of coding by providing teachers with a formal, structured means to a) trace the growth of students’ understanding, and misunderstanding, of ideas (i.e., coding) as they form, b) facilitate students’ use of evidence, not opinion, to select a solution among multiple solutions (i.e., different sequencing of the code), and c) help each student realize she/he, as well as others, is a legitimate participant (i.e., a programmer) in the activity of developing, assessing and implementing an idea (e.g., coding of a robot). This paper/presentation discussed the first phase of an on-going investigation and focuses on a prototype graduate-level course designed for and taught to practicing elementary school teachers. The discussion outlines how the course impacted the participating teachers content knowledge of coding and their belief that coding can be made an integral part of everyday lessons, not as an add-on activity. 
    more » « less