1. D. Fox Harrell
  3. Massachusetts Institute of Technology
  1. Danielle Olson
  2. http://hellodanio.com
  3. Ph.D. Student
  5. Massachusetts Institute of Technology
  1. Aziria Rodriguez
  3. Massachusetts Institute of Technology
  1. Sneha Veeragoudar Harrell
  2. Research scientist
  4. Massachusetts Institute of Technology

EBP: Toward Using Virtual Identities in Computer Science Learning for Broaden...

NSF Awards: 1542970

2018 (see original presentation & discussion)

Grades 9-12

The MIT Imagination, Computation, and Expression Laboratory sees access to high quality STEM education as a social justice issue of our time. Through this project, we seek to discover best practices for using virtual identities (from avatars to social media profiles) to enhance performance, engagement, and STEM identity development for diverse secondary school computer science (CS) students.

We designed and deployed workshops in public schools to catalyze excitement and learning about CS, foster critical thinking skills pertinent to information technologies (e.g., surveillance, privacy, big data, etc.), and support development of students’ identities as empowered computational learners and practitioners. Our vision reflects an anti-deficit ideological stance towards students from underrepresented groups, seeing their social identities not as obstacles, but as positive resources for their STEM identities.

Our workshops use our custom platform called MazeStar that allows students to create customized games addressing issue within their communities. MazeStar contains a CS learning game that introduces key building blocks of coding and provides an experimental setting in which we conduct evidence-based research to better understand the impacts of avatars and graphical content on students’ learning.

To disseminate results, we developed open-source materials supporting teaching and learning using our curriculum, which builds upon aspects of the nationally recognized Exploring Computer Science (ECS) curriculum and includes custom assessment instruments.

Through this project, we are Transforming the Educational Landscape with the belief that students can be agents of change in their own lives and the world, by bringing culture into the fabric of computing practice.

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