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Thinking Outside the Box: Integrating Dynamic Math to Advance Computational Thinking for Diverse Student Populations
SRI is designing computer science curricula and activities to aid middle school students' learning of four concepts that are part of both mathematics and computer science: variables, expressions, loops and abstraction. This project builds on prior National Science Foundation-funded work that reveals that several middle school learners struggle with these concepts in introductory programing.
SRI’s designed activities leverage interactive technology-based dynamic mathematics representations that research has shown help diverse learners better understand similar concepts in mathematics classrooms. The dynamic approach to variation is a significant and potentially transformative departure from current practices in mathematics and computer science teaching and learning.
The project’s research questions focus on three areas—curricula, assessments, and research on theory of action—investigated in two phases. The first phase involves designing and developing technology platforms and activities for students using design-based research while concurrently creating assessments of students' conceptual understanding. In phase two, we will refine the theory of action for implementing the curriculum and examine learning outcomes for students using the designed assessments and a preparation for future learning transfer assessment set in a math context.
In light of the expansion of computer science curricula in K-12 classrooms nationwide, and the impetus to exploit overlaps within STEM disciplines, results of SRI's research and ensuing product development could be transformative to teaching and learning in these areas. The project has strong potential for impact because it focuses on signature concepts that bridge mathematics and computational thinking and that cross a range of grade levels and courses.
Data collection and mixed-method analyses include case studies that examine the learning experiences of a diverse subset of students and also serve to support the curriculum material refinements. Teachers and school district leaders are involved with the design and implementation of the materials. Teachers will also be interviewed about their implementation of the course and about other factors impacting student learning in their classrooms.
This material is based upon work supported by the National Science Foundation's STEM + Computing (STEM+C) and Core R&D Programs under award number 1543062. Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation.