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  1. The development of the CS content standards underscores the importance of curricula aligned with the standards, ensuring equitable coverage of CS concepts for all students. Because standards are broad, we emphasize the need for CS curricula to specify not only the standards they align with but also which aspects of the standards they align with and how. We map one common middle school CS curriculum to a few standards to demonstrate this need. 
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    Free, publicly-accessible full text available March 14, 2025
  2. ‘Algorithms’ is a core CS concept included in the K-12 CS standards, yet student challenges with understanding different aspects of algorithms are still not well documented, especially for younger students. This paper describes an approach to decompose the broad middle-school ‘algorithms’ standard into finer grained learning targets, develop formative assessment tasks aligned with the learning targets, and use the tasks to explore student understanding of, and challenges with, the various aspects of the standard. We present a number of student challenges revealed by our analysis of student responses to a set of standards-aligned formative assessment tasks and discuss how teachers and researchers interpreted student responses differently, even when using the same rubrics. Our study underscores the importance of carefully designed standards-aligned formative assessment tasks for monitoring student progress and demonstrates the need for teacher content knowledge to effectively use formative assessments during CS instruction. 
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    Free, publicly-accessible full text available October 3, 2024
  3. This poster presents findings on middle school students’ understanding of core Computer Science (CS) concepts, such as variables and control structures, using cognitive think-aloud interviews with eight students. Each student worked on 16-22 formative assessment tasks designed to assess understanding on the ‘Algorithms and Programming’ middle school CS standards. Our study describes students’ interpretations of the CS concepts and discusses potential factors influencing student interpretations. Significance and next steps are described. 
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    Free, publicly-accessible full text available October 3, 2024
  4. Abstract Background

    The Science Teaching Efficacy Belief Instrument A (STEBI-A; Riggs & Enochs, 1990 in Science Education, 74(6), 625-637) has been the dominant measurement tool of in-service science teacher self-efficacy and outcome expectancy for nearly 30 years. However, concerns about certain aspects of the STEBI-A have arisen, including the wording, validity, reliability, and dimensionality. In the present study, we revised the STEBI-A by addressing many concerns research has identified, and developed a new instrument called the T-STEM Science Scale. The T-STEM Science Scale was reviewed by expert panels and piloted first before it was administered to 727 elementary and secondary science teachers. The combination of classical test theory (CTT) and item response theory (IRT) approaches were used to validate the instrument. Multidimensional Rasch analysis and confirmatory factor analysis were run.


    Based on the results, the negatively worded items were found to be problematic and thus removed from the instrument. We also found that the three-dimensional model fit our data the best, in line with our theoretical conceptualization. Based on the literature review and analysis, although the personal science teaching efficacy beliefs (PTSEB) construct remained intact, the original outcome expectancy construct was renamed science teacher responsibility for learning outcomes beliefs (STRLOB) and was divided into two dimensions, above- and below-average student interest or performance. The T-STEM Science Scale had satisfactory reliability values as well.


    Through the development and validation of the T-STEM Science Scale, we have addressed some critical concerns emergent from prior research concerning the STEBI-A. Psychometrically, the refinement of the wording, item removal, and the separation into three constructs have resulted in better reliability values compared to STEBI-A. While two distinct theoretical foundations are now used to explain the constructs of the new T-STEM instrument, prior literature and our empirical results note the important interrelationship of these constructs. The preservation of these constructs preserves a bridge, though imperfect, to the large body of legacy research using the STEBI-A.

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  5. The rapid expansion of K-12 CS education has made it critical to support CS teachers, many of whom are new to teaching CS, with the necessary resources and training to strengthen their understanding of CS concepts and how to effectively teach CS. CS teachers are often tasked with teaching different curricula using different programming languages in different grades or during different school years, and tend to receive different professional development (PD) for each curriculum they are required to teach. This often leads to a lack of deep understanding of the underlying CS concepts and how different curricula address the same concepts in different ways. Empowering teachers to develop a deep understanding of CS standards, and use formative assessments to recognize common student challenges associated with the standards, will enable teachers to provide more effective CS instruction, irrespective of the curriculum and/or programming language they are tasked with using. This position paper advocates supporting CS teacher professional learning by supplementing existing curriculum-specific teacher PD with standards-aligned PD that focuses on teachers' conceptual understanding of CS standards and ability to adapt instruction based on student understanding of concepts underlying the CS standards. We share concrete examples of how to design standards-aligned educative resources and instructionally supportive tools that promote teachers' understanding of CS standards and common student challenges and develop teachers' formative assessment literacy, all essential components of CS pedagogical content knowledge. 
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  6. Careers in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) increasingly rely on computational thinking (CT) to explore scientific processes and apply scientific knowledge to the solution of real-world problems. Integrating CT with science and engineering also helps broaden participation in computing for students who otherwise would not have access to CT learning. Using a set of emergent design guidelines for scaffolding integrated STEM and CT curricular experiences, we designed the Water Runoff Challenge (WRC) - a three-week unit that integrates Earth science, engineering, and CT. We implemented the WRC with 99 sixth grade students and analyzed students’ learning artifacts and pre/post assessments to characterize students’ learning process in the WRC. We use a vignette to illustrate how anchoring CT tasks to STEM contexts supported CT learning for a student with low prior CT proficiency. 
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    Pair programming is a popular strategy in computer science education to teach programming to novices. In this study, we examined the effect of three different pair programming conditions on up- per elementary school students’ CS conceptual understanding. The three conditions were one-computer with roles (1C with roles), two computers without roles (2C no roles), and two computers with roles (2C with roles). These students were engaged in four days of computer programming activities and took the CS concept assessment, CS attitudes, and collaboration perceptions before and after the activities. We used the validated E-CSCA (Elementary Computer Science Concepts Assessment) to measure elementary students’ understanding of CS concepts. We tested the relation- ship of different pair programming conditions on the students’ CS conceptual understanding and found that different conditions impacted students’ CS conceptual understanding, wherein students in 2C roles demonstrated better CS learning than the other two conditions. The results also showed no changes in students’ CS attitudes and perceptions of collaboration before and after the activities. Furthermore, the results indicated no significant impact of these attitudinal factors on students’ learning CS concepts in pair programming settings. Our study highlights the importance of the roles and number of computers in pair programming settings, especially for elementary students. 
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