NSF Awards: 1741910
2019 (see original presentation & discussion)
Grades K-6
The Collective Argumentation Learning and Coding (CALC) Project is designing an instructional approach that integrates the teaching of coding and other computer science content with the standard practices used to teach other elementary curriculum content. Collective argumentation is effective in teaching both mathematics and science in ways that are authentic to the disciplines. This project aims to use the principles of collective argumentation to teach coding through appropriate reasoning. Teaching coding in this way has several benefits. First, creating and critiquing arguments to code promotes a more structured approach to coding rather than the trial-and-error approach commonly used by novice programmers. Second, it allows teachers to use methods that are already in use in mathematics and science instruction to teach coding, thus increasing the probability that it is taught in conjunction with mathematics and science as regular parts of classroom instruction rather than relegated to an after-school or enrichment activity for only some students. Third, it has the potential to increase administrative support for coding as it is integrated with mathematics and science, subjects already recognized as essential for student success as evidenced by state testing requirements.
This video will provide insight into how the CALC approach to coding is implemented by our participating teachers and how students engage the CALC approach when learning how to code.
Gerad OShea
Research Director
Thanks for sharing your project!
Is there any early assessment data you can share, either about teachers' efficacy or comfort leading CALC with their students after the training or the impact of CALC on student learning?
Timothy Foutz
Josiah Meigs Distinguished Teaching Professor
In the model graduate level class where the teachers learned about and developed their coding skills via the CALC approach, teacher efficacy increased. When the teachers implemented the CALC approach in their classrooms, teacher efficacy was dependent on the classroom setting. For those classroom where students perform at similar academic levels, teacher comfort increase as they gained experience using the CALC approach to teach coding. For the classrooms where students had a wide range of academic ability, teacher comfort with coding seemed to remain constant. We are finding that more time is needed to help teachers develop their in-the-classroom activities particularly for teachers who need activities for sub-groups of students. I anticipate these teachers’ comfort level will increase as they gain more experience. But, in both cases, the teachers are comfortable with the argumentation aspects of CALC.
Compared to our control school districts, our overall (but early) assessment indicates that the teacher's comfort level using the CALC process to teach coding within a math or science lesson generally increased.
Feng Liu
Researcher
Thanks for sharing your work! I would like to know more about the outcome measures used during the impact evaluation. How teacher efficacy was measured during the evaluation process? (e.g., Did you look at teacher value-added-measure or VAM score or used some sort of survey to collect data on teacher efficacy?) How student learning was measured? I know many states have not made Computer Science courses as mandate at Elementary school level yet. What outcome did you use when examining the impact on student learning?
Timothy Foutz
Josiah Meigs Distinguished Teaching Professor
To measure teacher efficacy, we used a) an online survey,b) individual teacher interviews before enrolling in our prototype course and after completion of the course, and c) individual teacher interviews before and after teachers implemented a lesson plan using the CALC approach. Several of the prototype course assignments asked for reflections and we are in the process of assessing those reflections.
Regarding student learning, we did not conduct a direct measurement. Our focus is assessing how teachers use the CALC approach to make coding an integral part of math and science. We have assessed some of the student work to see how the lesson plans translated to student activities. We are in the process of assessing how student interest in coding changed after the CALC approach was implemented, but that assessment will not be complete until the end of May.
Feng Liu
Researcher
Thanks for the detailed response, Tim!
Nancy McGowan
Instructional Math Coach
There is tremendous value in your program. Some of the mathematics that comes to mind: Using measurement for distance, calculating angles to set the pathway of the robot, and the use of decimals and fractions to determine speed. Putting mathematics in context makes all the difference. Your program and efforts in working with teachers to promote the integration of mathematical calculations in a real world setting is to be commended!
Timothy Foutz
Josiah Meigs Distinguished Teaching Professor
Thank you for your comments. We have learned that a few teachers have been able to incorporate coding into social studies lessons. The students plotted out the Oregon Trail, had to determine the path to take to travel from East Coast to Oregon, then use argumentation on how to code a robot to travel that path.
Kevin Fleming
This is a really interesting project. It seems they have connections with STEM, but did you find teachers making any connections to the literacy aspects of coding and argumentation?
Timothy Foutz
Josiah Meigs Distinguished Teaching Professor
The connections to the literacy aspects of coding and argumentation are there but I only have observation data at this time. We are currently reviewing our video records and "coding" out the conversations taking place during the "computer coding" work. Hopefully, I can provide more details by August. (a group of 8 graduate students is working every day this summer on this project)
Timothy Foutz
Josiah Meigs Distinguished Teaching Professor
While we are still analyzing data, we see evidence of these connections. Example, one lesson plan developed by a teacher asked students to program a robot to travel in a pattern (at first a square and later in the shape of an R). The intent was to help students recognize patterns and engage the loop control flow statement (loop command). Then this pattern recognition was connected to multiplication. During the lesson, the teacher engaged students in argumentation as the scaffold for making this connection. This was one of many small group activity that we have recorded and are analyzing. Hopefully, we will see a significant number of episodes similar to this.
KRISTEN BIEDA
This is such a cool approach! I especially love the focus on moving from trial and error to the use of collective argumentation. From my experience, it can be challenging for teachers to incorporate collective argumentation if they are new to engaging students in that kind of scientific and mathematical thinking practice. You mentioned doing some summer work with the teachers to teach them about robotics - is there an analogous kind of PD for teachers around collective argumentation?
Timothy Foutz
Josiah Meigs Distinguished Teaching Professor
For three years, we taught monthly PD for teachers on collective argumentation; the focus was mathematics, science, and the social sciences. Two years before those workshops, we taught PDs focused on robotics; the focus was to help middle and high school teachers understand the coding behind robotics and why there needed to be a manufacturing workforce that needed coding skills (we had partners from local manufacturing facilities). Through those experiences, we developed the CALC project.
We have found that the teachers have been able to use collective argumentation in the coding process and hopefully will be publishing on this topic in the very near future.
Further posting is closed as the event has ended.