Computer Science

Design and Development of Transmedia Narrative-based Curricula to Engage Children in Scientific Thinking and Engineering Design (Collaborative Research: McGinnis-Cavanaugh)

This project will address the need for engineering resources by applying an innovative pedagogy called Imaginative Education (IE) to create middle school engineering curricula. In IE, developmentally appropriate narratives are used to design learning environments that help learners engage with content and organize their knowledge productively. This project will combine IE with transmedia storytelling.

Partner Organization(s): 
Award Number: 
1813572
Funding Period: 
Sun, 07/15/2018 to Thu, 06/30/2022
Project Evaluator: 
Collaborative for Educational Services (CES)
Full Description: 

Engineering is an important component of the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS). However, resources for supporting teachers in implementing these standards are scarce. This project will address the need for resources by applying an innovative pedagogy called Imaginative Education (IE) to create middle school engineering curricula. In IE, developmentally appropriate narratives are used to design learning environments that help learners engage with content and organize their knowledge productively. To fully exploit the potential of this pedagogy, this project will combine IE with transmedia storytelling. In transmedia storytelling, different elements of a narrative are spread across a variety of formats (such as books, websites, new articles, videos and other media) in a way that creates a coordinated experience for the user. Once created, the curricula will be implemented in classrooms to research its impact on (1) increasing learners' capacities to engage in both innovative and direct application of engineering concepts, and (2) improving learners' science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) identity. 

This research will be led by Smith College and Springfield Technical Community College in collaboration with Springfield (MA) Public Schools (SPS). Additional expertise in evaluating the findings will be provided by the Collaborative for Educational Services and an external advisory board of leaders in STEM education and transmedia storytelling. The project will result in the development of a transmedia learning environment that includes two NGSS-aligned, interdisciplinary engineering units and seven lessons that integrate science and engineering. The research study will be implemented in four phases in eight SPS middle schools. Approximately 900 students will participate each year. In Phase 1, the project team will collaborate with SPS teachers to create engineering units, lessons, and standards-based achievement measures. In Phase 2, teachers in the treatment group will participate in professional development (PD) workshops covering IE, transmedia learning environments, structure of the curriculum, and connections to NGSS. In Phase 3 the curricula will be implemented in treatment classrooms and both treatment and control group students will be assessed. In Phase 4, testing and assessment will continue in SPS schools and will be expanded to rural and suburban classrooms. Teachers in these classrooms will use online multimedia PD that will ensure scalability and mirrors the structure and content of in-person PD. Data analysis will provide evidence of whether this imaginative and transmedia educational approach improves students' capacities for using engineering concepts and enhances their STEM identity.


Project Videos

2020 STEM for All Video Showcase

Title: Transforming Engineering Education for Middle Schools (TEEMS)

Presenter(s): Isabel Huff, Kaia Cormier, Glenn Ellis, Sonia Ellis, Crystal Ford, Kate Lytton, Becky Mazur, Beth McGinnis-Cavanaugh, Jeremy Pina, & Al Rudnitsky

2019 STEM for All Video Showcase

Title: Transforming Engineering Education for Middle School (TEEMS)

Presenter(s): Beth McGinnis-Cavanaugh, Sonia Ellis, & Crystal Ford


Developing a Culturally Responsive Computing Instrument for Underrepresented Students

This EAGER project aims to conduct a study designed to operationalize a culturally responsive computing framework, from theory to empirical application, by exploring what factors can be identified and later used to develop items for an instrument to assess youths' self-efficacy and self-perceptions in computing and technology-related fields and careers.

Project Email: 
Lead Organization(s): 
Award Number: 
1822346
Funding Period: 
Thu, 02/15/2018 to Fri, 01/31/2020
Project Evaluator: 
Full Description: 

This EAGER project aims to conduct a study designed to operationalize a culturally responsive computing framework, from theory to empirical application, by exploring what factors can be identified and later used to develop items for an instrument to assess youths' self-efficacy and self-perceptions in computing and technology-related fields and careers. The project explores the constructs of culturally responsive computing across youths of diverse gender and racial identities (i.e., White, African American, Latino, Native American, Alaskan Native boys and girls) using a culturally responsive, participatory action research approach.

The project explores and develops the factor structure of an instrument on culturally responsive computing with diverse middle and high schoolers of intersecting identities. It uses culturally responsive methodologies to co-create an instrument for later validation that will assess youths' self-efficacy and self-perceptions in technology. The project will explore Culturally Response Computing constructs across variables by conducting observations, focus groups and interviews, and collect context data and information from teachers and students that will contribute to a series of case examples. The work involves a two-phase mixed-methods research study focused on assembling evidence to assess, design and validate a Culturally Responsive Computing Framework from theory to empirical application. A total of 50 students and teachers from four geographically diverse rural and urban areas and racial ethnic backgrounds will participate in co-creating constructs.

Alternative video text
Alternative video text: 

Project MAPLE: Makerspaces Promoting Learning and Engagement

The project plans to develop and study a series of metacognitive strategies that support learning and engagement for struggling middle school students during makerspace experiences. The study will focus narrowly on establishing a foundational understanding of how to ameliorate barriers to engaging in design learning through the use of metacognitive strategies.

Award Number: 
1721236
Funding Period: 
Fri, 09/01/2017 to Sat, 08/31/2019
Full Description: 

The project plans to develop and study a series of metacognitive strategies that support learning and engagement for struggling middle school students during makerspace experiences. The makerspace movement has gained recognition and momentum, which has resulted in many schools integrating makerspace technologies and related curricular practices into the classroom. The study will focus narrowly on establishing a foundational understanding of how to ameliorate barriers to engaging in design learning through the use of metacognitive strategies. The project plans to translate and apply research on the use of metacognitive strategies in supporting struggling learners to develop approaches that teachers can implement to increase opportunities for students who are the most difficult to reach academically. Project strategies, curricula, and other resources will be disseminated through existing outreach websites, research briefs, peer-reviewed publications for researchers and practitioners, and a webinar for those interested in middle-school makerspaces for diverse learners.

The research will address the paucity of studies to inform practitioners about what pedagogical supports help struggling learners engage in these makerspace experiences. The project will focus on two populations of struggling learners in middle schools, students with learning disabilities, and students at risk for academic failure. The rationale for focusing on metacognition within makerspace activities comes from the literature on students with learning disabilities and other struggling learners that suggests that they have difficulty with metacognitive thinking. Multiple instruments will be used to measure metacognitive processes found to be pertinent within the research process. The project will tentatively focus on persistence (attitudes about making), iteration (productive struggle) and intentionality (plan with incremental steps). The work will result in an evidence base around new instructional practices for middle school students who are struggling learners so that they can experience more success during maker learning experiences.

Foregrounding Agency Versus Structure as Models for Designing Integrated Mathematics and Computational Thinking Curriculum

This project will design and study new learning environments integrating mathematical and computational thinking. The project will examine how to design learning modules that place mathematics concepts. By exploring how different kinds of designs support learning and engagement, the project will establish a set of design principles for supporting mathematical and computational thinking.

Lead Organization(s): 
Award Number: 
1742257
Funding Period: 
Fri, 09/01/2017 to Tue, 08/31/2021
Full Description: 

The project will design and study new learning environments integrating mathematical and computational thinking. While integrating content has been suggested as a strategy for students' learning, there has been limited investigation about how mathematics and computational thinking should be connected in learning experiences. Computational thinking is an essential skill for STEM careers including concepts such as algorithms and programming, data collection and analysis, using abstractions, and problem solving. These computational thinking concepts and practices can be related to mathematics concepts. This project will examine how to design learning modules that place mathematics concepts. By exploring how different kinds of designs support learning and engagement, the project will establish a set of design principles for supporting mathematical and computational thinking.

Using design-based research as a methodology to support iterative design and research, the project will explore two core tensions that are relevant to the integration of mathematics and computational thinking. Each tension deals with how to balance competing goals, and investigates the influence of foregrounding one goal over another. Specifically, the project will design, test, and begin to apply in schools a set of modules that contrast: 1) foregrounding mathematics vs. computational thinking; and 2) foregrounding agency vs. structure. The model of implementation includes two summers of camp sessions for middle school students, and a year of implementation in classrooms, thus allowing exploration beyond the potential for math and computational thinking to be integrated, and extending into what such integration looks like in the institutional context of schools. The research questions to be investigated include: (1) What are the advantages of modules that teach mathematics through computational thinking (foregrounding mathematics) vs. those that teach computational thinking through mathematics (foregrounding computational thinking)? (2) What are the advantages of modules that teach computational thinking through open exploration (agency) vs. game play (structure)? (3) What kinds of instructional supports do math teachers need or request as they are teaching students at the intersection of computational thinking and mathematics? The project will result in (a) a set of instructional sequences for middle school that propose productive intersections of computational thinking and mathematics, (b) an understanding of how and why these instructional sequences support diverse participation, and (c) conjectures about the support math teachers need to integrate computational thinking in their classrooms. Different sections for students will be created to compare different conditions that will foreground mathematics, computational thinking, structure or agency. Data collected will include measures of student learning, interviews, analysis of student work, and video analysis to examine student engagement and interest.

Fostering Collaborative Computer Science Learning with Intelligent Virtual Companions for Upper Elementary Students (Collaborative Research: Wiebe)

The project will provide the opportunity for upper elementary students to learn computer science and build strong collaboration practices.

Partner Organization(s): 
Award Number: 
1721000
Funding Period: 
Tue, 08/15/2017 to Sat, 07/31/2021
Full Description: 

There is growing recognition that children can, and should, learn computer science. One of the central tenets of computer science is that it is a collaborative discipline, yet children do not start out with an intrinsic ability to collaborate. The project will provide the opportunity for upper elementary students to learn computer science and build strong collaboration practices. Leveraging the promise of virtual learning companions, the project will address three thrusts. First, the project will collect datasets of collaborative learning for computer science in diverse upper elementary school classrooms. Second, the project will design, develop, and iteratively refine its intelligent virtual learning companions, which support dyads of students in a scaffolded computer science learning environment with an interactive online coding tool. Third, the project will generate research findings and evidence about how children collaborate in computer science learning, and how best to support their collaboration with intelligent virtual learning companions. There will be three families of deliverables: learning activities and professional development, an intelligent learning environment with virtual learning companions, and research evidence that furthers the state of scholarship and practice surrounding the collaborative learning of computer science. The project will situate itself in highly diverse elementary schools in two states, Durham County, North Carolina and Alachua County, Florida. This project is supported by the Discovery Research PreK-12 program, which funds research and development of STEM innovations and approaches.

The project addresses the research question, "How can we support upper elementary-school students in computer science learning and collaboration using intelligent virtual learning companions?" The initial dataset will provide a ground-truth measure of students' collaboration approaches to classroom computer science learning tasks through instrumenting computer labs in elementary schools for collecting dialogue and problem-solving activity. The project will collect triangulating qualitative data to better understand impactful classroom dynamics around dyadic learning of computer science. The technical innovation of the project is the way in which student dyads are supported: each pair of children within the elementary school classroom will interact with a dyad of state of-the-art intelligent virtual learning companions. These companions will enhance the classroom experience by adapting in real time to the students' patterns of collaboration and problem solving to provide tailored support specifically for that pair of students. The virtual learning companions will model crucial dimensions of healthy collaboration through their dialogue with one another, including self-explanation, question generation, attributing challenges to the task and not to deficits in each other, and establishing common ground through uptake of ideas. The project will compare outcomes of computer science learning as measured in two ways: individual pre-test to post-test, and quality of collaboratively produced solutions. The project team will measure collaborative practices through dialogue analysis for the target collaboration strategies, as well as interest and self-efficacy for computer science. The project will utilize a multilevel model design to study the effect of the virtual learning companions on student outcomes. Using speech, dialogue transcripts, code artifact analysis, and multimodal analysis of gesture and facial expression, the team will conduct sequential analyses that identify the virtual learning companion interactions that are particularly beneficial for students, and focus our development efforts on expanding and refining those interactions. They will also identify the affordances that students did not engage with and determine whether to eliminate or re-cast them. The analytics of collaborative process data will once again be augmented with qualitative classroom data from field notes, focus groups, and semi-structured interviews with students and teachers. The themes that emerge will guide subsequent refinement of the environment and learning activities.

Fostering Collaborative Computer Science Learning with Intelligent Virtual Companions for Upper Elementary Students (Collaborative Research: Boyer)

The project will provide the opportunity for upper elementary students to learn computer science and build strong collaboration practices.

Lead Organization(s): 
Partner Organization(s): 
Award Number: 
1721160
Funding Period: 
Tue, 08/15/2017 to Sat, 07/31/2021
Full Description: 

There is growing recognition that children can, and should, learn computer science. One of the central tenets of computer science is that it is a collaborative discipline, yet children do not start out with an intrinsic ability to collaborate. The project will provide the opportunity for upper elementary students to learn computer science and build strong collaboration practices. Leveraging the promise of virtual learning companions, the project will address three thrusts. First, the project will collect datasets of collaborative learning for computer science in diverse upper elementary school classrooms. Second, the project will design, develop, and iteratively refine its intelligent virtual learning companions, which support dyads of students in a scaffolded computer science learning environment with an interactive online coding tool. Third, the project will generate research findings and evidence about how children collaborate in computer science learning, and how best to support their collaboration with intelligent virtual learning companions. There will be three families of deliverables: learning activities and professional development, an intelligent learning environment with virtual learning companions, and research evidence that furthers the state of scholarship and practice surrounding the collaborative learning of computer science. The project will situate itself in highly diverse elementary schools in two states, Durham County, North Carolina and Alachua County, Florida. This project is supported by the Discovery Research PreK-12 program, which funds research and development of STEM innovations and approaches.

The project addresses the research question, "How can we support upper elementary-school students in computer science learning and collaboration using intelligent virtual learning companions?" The initial dataset will provide a ground-truth measure of students' collaboration approaches to classroom computer science learning tasks through instrumenting computer labs in elementary schools for collecting dialogue and problem-solving activity. The project will collect triangulating qualitative data to better understand impactful classroom dynamics around dyadic learning of computer science. The technical innovation of the project is the way in which student dyads are supported: each pair of children within the elementary school classroom will interact with a dyad of state of-the-art intelligent virtual learning companions. These companions will enhance the classroom experience by adapting in real time to the students' patterns of collaboration and problem solving to provide tailored support specifically for that pair of students. The virtual learning companions will model crucial dimensions of healthy collaboration through their dialogue with one another, including self-explanation, question generation, attributing challenges to the task and not to deficits in each other, and establishing common ground through uptake of ideas. The project will compare outcomes of computer science learning as measured in two ways: individual pre-test to post-test, and quality of collaboratively produced solutions. The project team will measure collaborative practices through dialogue analysis for the target collaboration strategies, as well as interest and self-efficacy for computer science. The project will utilize a multilevel model design to study the effect of the virtual learning companions on student outcomes. Using speech, dialogue transcripts, code artifact analysis, and multimodal analysis of gesture and facial expression, the team will conduct sequential analyses that identify the virtual learning companion interactions that are particularly beneficial for students, and focus our development efforts on expanding and refining those interactions. They will also identify the affordances that students did not engage with and determine whether to eliminate or re-cast them. The analytics of collaborative process data will once again be augmented with qualitative classroom data from field notes, focus groups, and semi-structured interviews with students and teachers. The themes that emerge will guide subsequent refinement of the environment and learning activities.

Science and Engineering Education for Infrastructure Transformation

This project focuses on the research and develop an engineering education technology and pedagogy that will support project-based learning of science, engineering, and computation concepts and skills underlying the strategically important "smart" and "green" aspects of the infrastructure. The project will develop transformative technologies and curriculum materials to turn the campus of a high school or a geographical information system such as Google Maps into an engineering laboratory with virtually unlimited opportunities for learning and exploration.

Lead Organization(s): 
Partner Organization(s): 
Award Number: 
1721054
Funding Period: 
Sun, 10/01/2017 to Thu, 09/30/2021
Full Description: 

The Concord Consortium in collaboration with Purdue University will research and develop an engineering education technology and pedagogy that will support project-based learning of science, engineering, and computation concepts and skills underlying the strategically important "smart" and "green" aspects of the infrastructure. This project will develop transformative technologies and curriculum materials to turn the campus of a high school or a geographical information system such as Google Maps into an engineering laboratory with virtually unlimited opportunities for learning and exploration. The project will deliver two innovations: 1) The Smart High School is an engineering platform for designing Internet of Things systems for managing the resources, space, and processes of a school based on real-time analysis of data collected by various sensors deployed by students on campus; and 2) the Virtual Solar World is a computational modeling platform for students to design, deploy, and connect virtual solar power solutions for their homes, schools, and regions. Six standards-aligned curriculum units based on these technologies will be developed to guide student learning and support educational research. Approximately 2,000 students from rural, suburban, and urban high schools in Indiana, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, and Ohio will participate in this research. project products and findings through the Internet, conferences, publications, and partner networks.

The research is designed to identify technology-enhanced instructional strategies that can simultaneously foster the growth of skills and self-efficacy in scientific reasoning, design thinking, and computational thinking, all of which are needed to build the future infrastructure. The focus on infrastructure transformation is aligned with NSF's vision of smart and connected communities. Although this project will use the context of smart and green infrastructure to engage students to solve real-world problems, the skills of scientific reasoning, design thinking, and computational thinking that they will acquire through meeting the challenges of this project can be transferrable to other topics and fields. Using a design-based research approach, a rich set of formative and summative data will be collected from these students for probing into three research questions: 1) To what extent does the integrated learning model help students develop and connect scientific reasoning, design thinking, and computational thinking skills?; 2) To what extent is students' interest in cognate careers affected by the authenticity of engineering design challenges?; and 3) How do the variations in the solutions to overcome the cognitive and practical difficulties of real-world problems impact learning outcomes and career interest? The data sources include pre/post-tests, process data, self-reports, observations, surveys, interviews, and participant information.

INFEWS/T4: The INFEWS-ER: a Virtual Resource Center Enabling Graduate Innovations at the Nexus of Food, Energy, and Water Systems

This project will provide a virtual environment for completing the Food, Energy, and Water (FEW) graduate student experience. The proposed work facilitates a transition from interdisciplinary to transdisciplinary training of existing faculty and current graduate students through a virtual resource center to help develop systematic processes for interdisciplinary thinking about large societal problems, especially those at the nexus of food, energy, and water.

Award Number: 
1639340
Funding Period: 
Thu, 09/01/2016 to Mon, 08/31/2020
Full Description: 

This project will provide a virtual environment for completing the Food, Energy, and Water (FEW) graduate student experience, thereby facilitating the generation of human capital who can address grand challenges at the nexus of food, energy, and water. The INFEWS-ER will provide educational resources (ER) targeting innovations at the nexus of FEW by combining the fundamental sciences of food, energy, and water with the skills and knowledge of interdisciplinary problem solving and the latest computational modeling and analysis tools and data. These individuals will be capable of analyzing scenarios at the scale of nations, continents, and the globe. The INFEWS-ER will offer certificate programs where FEW Graduate Scholars can demonstrate their capabilities in interdisciplinary thinking, Big Data, and computational modeling and analysis, thereby receiving a credential demonstrating their level of achievement. Further, The INFEWS-ER will offer a faculty fellowship program to incentivize a network of academics that will provide a scaffolded learning environment for graduates, effectively creating a hub for INFEWS research, education, and training.

The proposed work facilitates a transition from interdisciplinary to transdisciplinary training of existing faculty and current graduate students (who will become future faculty, practitioners, and policy makers) through a virtual resource center that will be accessible beyond the project team and project timeframe. Students will develop systematic processes for interdisciplinary thinking. They will be in the best possible position to target large societal problems, especially those at the nexus of food, energy, and water. New, interdisciplinary solutions will emerge, solutions that are sensitive to a wider array of constraints and ideals. Those solutions will reflect the best possible integration of technological, socio-economic, and socio-political constructs. Project impacts include educational and workforce development of the next generation of academics, multi-institution collaboration, and enhanced infrastructure for transdisciplinary research and education. The INFEWS-ER also has the potential to influence the way interdisciplinary research and education is implemented in the future through the archival dissemination of not only learning modules, but also the evaluations and lessons learned from the implementation of the center.

Developing Teachers as Computational Thinkers Through Supported Authentic Experiences in Computing Modeling and Simulation

This project addresses the need for a computationally-enabled STEM workforce by equipping teachers with the skills necessary to prepare students for future endeavors as computationally-enabled scientists and citizens, and by investigating the most effective ways to provide this instruction to teachers. The project also addresses the immediate challenge presented by NGSS to prepare middle school science teachers to implement rich computational thinking experiences within science classes.

Partner Organization(s): 
Award Number: 
1639069
Funding Period: 
Fri, 01/01/2016 to Sun, 06/30/2019
Full Description: 

The Discovery Research K-12 program (DRK-12) seeks to significantly enhance the learning and teaching of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) by preK-12 students and teachers, through research and development of innovative resources, models and tools (RMTs). Projects in the DRK-12 program build on fundamental research in STEM education and prior research and development efforts that provide theoretical and empirical justification for proposed projects.

This project addresses the need for a computationally-enabled STEM workforce by equipping teachers with the skills necessary to prepare students for future endeavors as computationally-enabled scientists and citizens, and by investigating the most effective ways to provide this instruction to teachers. The project also addresses the immediate challenge presented by the Next Generation Science Standards to prepare middle school science teachers to implement rich computational thinking (CT) experiences, such as the use, creation and analysis of computer models and simulations, within science classes.

The project, a partnership between the Santa Fe Institute and the Santa Fe Public School District, directly addresses middle school teachers' understanding, practice, and teaching of modern scientific practice. Using the Project GUTS program and professional development model as a foundation, this project will design and develop a set of Resources, Models, and Tools (RMTs) that collectively form the basis for a comprehensive professional development (PD) program, then study teachers' experiences with the RMTs and assess how well the RMTs prepared teachers to implement the curriculum. The PD program includes: an online PD network; workshops; webinars and conferences; practicum and facilitator support; and curricular and program guides. The overall approach to the project is design based implementation research (DBIR). Methods used for the implementation research includes: unobtrusive measures such as self-assessment sliders and web analytics; the knowledge and skills survey (KS-CT); interviews (teachers and the facilitators); analysis of teacher modified and created models; and observations of practicum and classroom implementations. Data collection and analysis in the implementation research serve two purposes: a) design refinement and b) case study development. The implementation research employs a mixed-method, nonequivalent group design with embedded case studies.

Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics Scholars Teacher Academy Resident System

This project will investigate the effectiveness of a teacher academy resident model to recruit, license, induct, employ, and retain middle school and secondary teachers for high-need schools in the South. It will prepare new, highly-qualified science and mathematics teachers from historically Black universities in high-needs urban and rural schools with the goal of increasing teacher retention and diversity rates.

Lead Organization(s): 
Award Number: 
1621325
Funding Period: 
Fri, 07/15/2016 to Wed, 06/30/2021
Full Description: 

This project at Jackson State University will investigate the effectiveness of a teacher academy resident model to recruit, license, induct, employ, and retain middle school and secondary science and mathematics teachers for high-need schools in the South. It will prepare new, highly-qualified science and mathematics teachers from historically Black universities in high-needs urban and rural schools. The project involves a partnership among three historically Black universities (Jackson, State University, Xavier University of Louisiana, and the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff), and diverse urban and rural school districts in Jackson, Mississippi; New Orleans, Louisiana; and Pine Bluff Arkansas region that serve more than 175,000 students.

Participants will include 150 middle and secondary school teacher residents who will gain clinical mentored experience and develop familiarity with local schools. The 150 teacher residents supported by the program to National Board certification will obtain: state licensure/certification in science teaching, a master's degree, and initiation. The goal is to increase teacher retention and diversity rates. The research question guiding this focus is: Will training STEM graduates have a significant effect on the quality of K-12 instruction, teacher efficacy and satisfaction, STEM teacher retention, and students? Science and mathematics achievement? A quasi-experimental design will be used to evaluate project's effectiveness.

Pages

Subscribe to Computer Science