ScratchEd: Working with Teachers to Develop Design-Based Approaches to the Cultivation of Computational Thinking

This project is designing, developing, and studying an innovative model for professional development (PD) of teachers who use the Scratch computer programming environment to help their students learn computational thinking. The fundamental hypothesis of the project is that engagement in workshops and on-line activities of the ScratchEd professional development community will enhance teacher knowledge about computational thinking, their practice of design-based instruction, and their students' learning of key computational thinking concepts and habits of mind.

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Education Development Center
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The ScratchEd project, led by faculty at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and professionals at the Education Development Center, is designing, developing, and studying an innovative model for professional development (PD) of teachers who use the Scratch computer programming environment to help their students learn computational thinking. The fundamental hypothesis of the project is that engagement in workshops and on-line activities of the ScratchEd professional development community will enhance teacher knowledge about computational thinking, their practice of design-based instruction, and their students' learning of key computational thinking concepts and habits of mind.

The effectiveness of the ScratchEd project is being evaluated by research addressing four specific questions: (1) What are the levels of teacher participation in the various ScratchEd PD offerings and what do teachers think of these experiences? (2) Do teachers who participate in ScratchEd PD activities change their use of Scratch in classroom instruction to create design-based learning opportunities? (3) Do the students of teachers who participate in the ScratchEd PD activities show evidence of developing an understanding of computational thinking concepts and processes? (4) When the research instruments developed for the evaluation are made available for teachers in the Scratch community to use for self-evaluation, how do teachers make use of them? Because both computational thinking and design-based instruction are complex activities, the project research is using a combination of survey, interview, and artifact analysis methods to answer the questions.

The ScratchEd professional development and research work will provide important insight into the challenge of helping teachers create productive learning environments for development of computational thinking. Those efforts will also yield a set of evaluation tools that can be integrated into the ScratchEd resources and used by others to study development of computational thinking and design-based instruction.

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