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Coding choreography: Understanding student responses to representational incompatibilities between dance and programmingThis paper considers how a curricular design that integrated computer programming and creative movement shaped students’ engagement with computing. We draw on data from a camp for middle schoolers, focusing on an activity in which students used the programming environment NetLogo to re-represent their physical choreography. We analyze the extent to which students noticed incompatibilities (mismatches between possibilities in dance and NetLogo), and how encountering them shaped their coding. Our findings suggest that as students attended to incompatibilities, they experienced struggle, but persisted and engaged in iterative cycles of design. Our work suggests that tensions between arts and programming may promote student engagement.Free, publicly-accessible full text available October 27, 2023
Block-based abstractions and expansive services to make advanced computing concepts accessible to novicesFree, publicly-accessible full text available December 1, 2023
Expanding Opportunities for Systems Thinking, Conceptual Learning, and Participation through Embodied and Computational ModelingPrevious research has established that embodied modeling (role-playing agents in a system) can support learning about complexity. Separately, research has demonstrated that increasing the multimodal resources available to students can support sensemaking, particularly for students classified as English Learners. This study bridges these two bodies of research to consider how embodied models can strengthen an interconnected system of multimodal models created by a classroom. We explore how iteratively refining embodied modeling activities strengthened connections to other models, real-world phenomena, and multimodal representations. Through design-based research in a sixth grade classroom studying ecosystems, we refined embodied modeling activities initially conceived as supports for computational thinking and modeling. Across three iterative cycles, we illustrate how the conceptual and epistemic relationship between the computational and embodied model shifted, and we analyze how these shifts shaped opportunities for learning and participation by: (1) recognizing each student’s perspectives as critical for making sense of the model, (2) encouraging students to question and modify the “code” for the model, and (3) leveraging multimodal resources, including graphs, gestures, and student-generated language, for meaning-making. Through these shifts, the embodied model became a full-fledged component of the classroom’s model system and created more equitable opportunities for learning and participation.
This paper outlines the potential gains for Constructionist research and praxis in modelling that might be obtained by recognising the power of the Patch—a humble computational being in the NetLogo modelling environment that has been overshadowed by its more popular fellow agent, the Turtle. To contextualise this opportunity, I describe how Constructionist modelling has thrived by promoting forms of learning that rely on learners’ identifying with agents. I argue that patches are a neglected agent type in this multi‐agent modelling tradition, and that the possibilities for learners to adopt the patch perspective in support of exploratory forms of modelling and aesthetic expression have been under‐researched. Nevertheless, I show there are a variety of powerful ways for learners––both individually and in groups––to identify with patches. I describe ongoing research showing how taking an aesthetic approach to patches has the potential to support individuals and groups in powerful forms of learning with and about multi‐agent modelling.
What is already known about this topic
Turtles (movable agents in Logo and Constructionist environments descended from Logo) can be ‘transitional objects’ that provide learners a way to make powerful ideas their own.
These agents can be powerful ‘objects‐to‐think‐with’ in large part becausemore »
Expressive activities that draw on learners’
aestheticinterests can support their learning with and about computational representations.
Multi‐agent modelling is a powerful extension of Logo‐based learning environments that provides access to powerful ideas about complex systems and their emergent properties.
In the multi‐agent setting, individual learners and/or groups of learners can identify syntonically with agents to provide entry points for reasoning about complexity.
What this paper adds
Patches (non‐movable agents in the NetLogo modelling environment) are under‐represented in the research on multi‐agent modelling, and the potential for learners to adopt the patches’ perspective has been neglected.
An aesthetically driven approach to patches can ground students’ understanding of their expressive value.
Participatory activities in which learners play the role of patches (called ‘Stadium Card’ activities) can ground the patch perspective, so that learners can achieve a form of syntonicity and/or collectively adopt the perspective of patches in the aggregate.
Participatory activities that blend intrinsic and extrinsic perspectives on the patch grid can further enhance learners’ facility with programming for patches and their understanding of patches’ collective expressive power.
Implications for practice and/or policy
Balancing the focus between turtles and patches can enrich the modelling toolbox of learners new to agent‐based modelling.
docapture important aspects of individual and collective experience, and so can be good objects‐to‐think‐with, especially when conceptualising phenomena at a larger scale.
The expressive potential of the patch grid is an important topic for computer science as well (eg, through 2D cellular automata). This is a rich context for learning in itself, which can be made accessible to groups of learners through physical or virtual participatory role‐play.
Moreover, physical or virtual grids of people‐patches may exhibit novel aggregate computational properties that could in turn become interesting areas for research in computer science.
Gresalfi, M. and (Ed.)Debugging has been identified as a significant practice of programming in particular, and computational thinking more broadly. However, there is still much to learn about how debugging is learned, how it is connected to particular activities, and what seems to influence students’ strategy use and ultimate solution paths. This paper considers students’ activity on their first formal debugging task using a platform called NetLogo. Our analysis focuses on the ways that students appeared to frame the task, and how that framing influenced their overall approach to the task. Our findings suggest that it is compelling for new coders to approach debugging first by focusing on single elements of code without thinking broadly about their interactions. Implications for design and future studies are discussed.