1207 Views
  1. Douglas Edwards
  2. https://www.ceismc.gatech.edu/about/staffdirectory/doug-edwards
  3. Research Associate II
  4. Presenter’s NSFRESOURCECENTERS
  5. Georgia Institute of Technology
  1. Meltem Alemdar
  2. https://www.ceismc.gatech.edu/about/staffdirectory/meltem-alemdar
  3. Senior Research Scientist/co-PI
  4. Presenter’s NSFRESOURCECENTERS
  5. Georgia Institute of Technology
  1. Jessica Gale
  2. https://www.ceismc.gatech.edu/about/staffdirectory/dr-jessica-gale
  3. Senior Research Scientist
  4. Presenter’s NSFRESOURCECENTERS
  5. Georgia Institute of Technology
  1. Michael Helms
  2. Senior Research Scientist
  3. Presenter’s NSFRESOURCECENTERS
  4. Georgia Institute of Technology
  1. Diley Hernandez
  2. https://www.ceismc.gatech.edu/about/staffdirectory/dr-diley-hernandez
  3. Senior Research Scientist/ CAPACiTY Program Director
  4. Presenter’s NSFRESOURCECENTERS
  5. Georgia Institute of Technology
  1. Sunni Newton
  2. Senior Research Scientist
  3. Presenter’s NSFRESOURCECENTERS
  4. Georgia Institute of Technology, Georgia Tech CEISMC
  1. Mike Ryan
  2. https://ceismc.gatech.edu/about/staffdirectory/mike-ryan
  3. Senior Research
  4. Presenter’s NSFRESOURCECENTERS
  5. Georgia Institute of Technology
  1. Steven Taylor
  2. Communications Manager
  3. Presenter’s NSFRESOURCECENTERS
  4. Georgia Tech CEISMC, Georgia Tech CEISMC, Georgia Institute of Technology
  1. Marion Usselman
  2. https://www.ceismc.gatech.edu/about/staffdirectory/marion-usselman
  3. CAPACiTY Principal Investigator
  4. Presenter’s NSFRESOURCECENTERS
  5. Georgia Institute of Technology

Culturally Authentic Practices to Advance Computational Thinking in Youth (CA...

NSF Awards: 1639946

2020 (see original presentation & discussion)

Grades 9-12

The Culturally Authentic Practice to Advance Computational Thinking in Youth (CAPACiTY) project has created, piloted and is assessing new curricula for the Georgia high school Introduction to Digital Technology (IDT) course and the Advanced Placement Computer Science Principles course, both of which are integral parts of Georgia’s Career, Technical and Agricultural Education (CTAE) Information Technology (IT) pathway. These IT pathway courses, which can lead ultimately to students enrolling in AP Computer Science A, serve as an important multiyear on-ramp into computer science for students from backgrounds and demographic groups traditionally underrepresented in the field.

 

Essential to all CAPACiTY curricula is the integration of culturally authentic practices (CAPs), designed to promote students’ voice, choice, and belonging in the classroom. These pedagogical practices, embedded throughout the curriculum, are grounded in motivational theories like self-determination and are designed to help decrease the effects of social identity threat that students from underrepresented groups might experience in CS-related fields. The project-based learning nature of the curriculum supports CAPs by allowing students to select their own problem or computing innovation to work on. Students have chosen to tackle a variety of subjects, including sleep deprivation, college debt, wearable ECGs, and Ring doorbells. By learning how to use their computer science skills to raise awareness about issues they care about, students experience a sense of agency within the context of their classroom. Research has shown that the CAPACiTY IDT course has positive impacts on students’ cognitive engagement and their intention to persist in computer science.

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Original Discussion from the 2020 STEM For All Video Showcase
  • Icon for: Douglas Edwards

    Douglas Edwards

    Lead Presenter
    Research Associate II
    May 4, 2020 | 07:28 p.m.

    Welcome to our CAPACiTY video!

    I am a research faculty member at Georgia Tech and co-PI of this STEM+Computing project that is scheduled to end on September 30, 2020. The CAPACiTY project was developed to provide an engaging, culturally authentic, and computationally rigorous first year high school computer science curriculum for Georgia’s Introduction to Digital Technology (IDT) course. The project-based and culturally authentic practices (CAPS) embedded curriculum’s pilot implementation has shown significant improvement in student cognitive engagement and intention to persist in computer science for underrepresented students.

    Our video highlights the expansion of our pilot implementation of the first-year pathway course, CAPACiTY IDT, to a pilot implementation of a combined IDT and second year Computer Science Principles course curriculum. Similar to the CAPACiTY IDT curriculum where students select a school/community problem to raise awareness about through computational artifact development, the CAP of self-motivation theory is applied through student selection of a computing innovation. Students investigate different computer science related aspects of their selected innovation by developing computational artifacts about the innovation. Our goal is to broaden participation in computer science through curricula that promotes student engagement and rigor, so that students persist into advanced CS courses like AP Computer Science A and Game Design.

    We look forward to your comments about our project.

  • Icon for: Sarah Young

    Sarah Young

    Facilitator
    May 5, 2020 | 11:27 a.m.

    What an amazing diversity of topics you support! I appreciate the voices of the students in your video highlighting why it was important for them to be able to drive the focus of the project. 

    I am curious what type of scaffolding or engagement you use to set up the student project selection? When does it occur in the course, and how does the teacher introduce the opportunity? Student autonomy is very important, and I am interested in learning more about those strategies. 

  • Icon for: Diley Hernandez

    Diley Hernandez

    Co-Presenter
    May 5, 2020 | 01:24 p.m.

    Sarah, thank you so much for your comment. We used an iterative process throughout the curriculum to help students develop their computational thinking skills through the artifact development tied to their projects. Part of the professional development to teachers and the curriculum implementation instructions also focused on issues of choice and fostering student autonomy. Students were encouraged to select projects that were meaningful to them personally, socially, and culturally; and the complexity of the digital projects they had to develop around that topic increased throughout the year. Teachers had to help manage that with other considerations such as group work and helping students identify problems that allowed them to draft potential solutions. That way pedagogically they could capitalize on students' assets but also promote agency.

  • Icon for: Mike Ryan

    Mike Ryan

    Co-Presenter
    May 6, 2020 | 09:51 a.m.

    Hi, Sarah... Diley and I are colleagues on the project, and I can chime in on some of your questions.

    The curriculum intentionally integrates principles of project-based learning, and so students are engaged in selecting a problem from the very beginning of the course. The first 15 days of the course is dedicated to scaffolding students identifying, sharing, discussing "problems" they see and/or experience in the world... small or large. We have a number of collaborative activities, teacher-led activities, small group activities that help them identify right-size problems for high school students. We have developed a number of graphic organizers and discussion frameworks for teachers to process their ideas and goals. Most of which are built on best-practice concepts in the PBL field.

    There are 4 units to the curriculum, each generally 8-10 weeks. We have students working in groups on some and in pairs on others. This creates opportunity for students to pivot to new projects OR reshape their focus on a problem they are already tackling to keep things fresh. Within each unit we iteratively and explicitly have students reflect on what they have learned about computer science and about their problem context to frame the problem well and design a good product.

    We also held weekly video conference sessions with our teachers in the field (before it was the norm, like now) to discuss management of projects and help develop teacher facilitation skills.

  • Icon for: Jennifer Vermillion

    Jennifer Vermillion

    Facilitator
    May 5, 2020 | 05:42 p.m.

    Thank you for sharing this important work! I would love to learn more about some of the strategies employed to decrease the effects of social identity threat that students from underrepresented groups might experience.

  • Icon for: Diley Hernandez

    Diley Hernandez

    Co-Presenter
    May 6, 2020 | 10:47 a.m.

    Hi Jennifer,
    Thank you for your question. We used a variety of strategies that have been shown by research to reduce stereotype threat, with a focus on promoting stereotype inoculation (Dasgupta, 2011) by exposing students to role models as part of the course, and promoting incremental views of intelligence within the course to reduce stereotype threat in the domain (Yeager and Walton, 2011). What is new about CAPACiTY is that these strategies are embedded throughout the computer science curriculum and linked to instruction, so rather than an external or added activity, these interventions are part of the course. In terms of specific strategies, we created opportunities for: 1) exposing students to stories of relatable role models in CS through videos, 2) reflecting on learning gains throughout the year, 3) allowing students to engage in progressive resume building with a focus on identifying current skills and future options in CS, and 4) creating equity-supportive collaborative experiences, such as jigsaw collaborative learning activities. We are currently studying how these practices and interventions were implemented by the teachers in the classroom and students’ perceptions.

     
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    Discussion is closed. Upvoting is no longer available

    Carol Fletcher
  • May 6, 2020 | 01:22 p.m.

    Giving teachers concrete examples of how they can inoculate students to stereotype threat is vital to helping teachers move beyond good intentions to explicitly addressing issues of equity in their classroom instruction. I really like that you have embedded the strategies throughout the course. Do you explicitly provide instruction in stereotype threat and how it might play out in CS courses with the students or is this more of a teacher facing component of the curriculum?

     

  • Icon for: Diley Hernandez

    Diley Hernandez

    Co-Presenter
    May 6, 2020 | 03:50 p.m.

    Hi Carol,
    Thank you for the question! We provide professional development for teachers on issues of stereotype threat (ST), how they impact students in CS and how our interventions connect to it. But the interventions to students do not address ST directly as previous research has shown that stereotype forewarning interventions can have mixed results. So the teachers facilitate discussions on learning progress and gains, help students build their sense of growing efficacy in the classroom and connect that to their ability in the CS domain, they might address equity issues through student topics when applicable, and facilitate reflections around the role model videos we created for the project but without addressing stereotype threat as a phenomenon directly with the students. I hope this answers your question.

  • Icon for: Janice Cuny

    Janice Cuny

    Facilitator
    May 6, 2020 | 09:49 a.m.

    I loved the focus on student agency. Do the students typically pick a topic that they address throughout the course or do they choose different topics for different assignments? Can you give me an idea of the range of topics they choose?

     

     
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    Discussion is closed. Upvoting is no longer available

    Meltem Alemdar
  • Icon for: Douglas Edwards

    Douglas Edwards

    Lead Presenter
    Research Associate II
    May 6, 2020 | 11:48 a.m.

    HI Janice,

    Thanks for your question. In the first year Introduction to Digital Technology (IDT) course students select a problem that they address throughout the year by collaboratively developing computational artifacts (website, music, and game app) related to their topic. Topics in this course have ranged from mental health issues (anxiety, stress, depression) to school/social issues (dirty drinking water, bullying, too much homework, sleep deprivation, college debt, drugs) to social justice issues (racism, school shootings, police brutality, families separated at the border, ocean pollution).

    In the combined IDT/Computer Science Principles or AP Computer Science Principles courses students select a computing innovation that they address throughout the first semester in four assignments that are integrated into one website. Examples of topics for these courses have included self-driving cars, smart house systems, biometrics, drone delivery, flight simulators, Ring doorbell, and bitcoin. The second semester they design and code, in Python or Javascript, a jukebox of songs that they computationally develop using EarSketch.

  • Icon for: Jack Broering

    Jack Broering

    Program Coordinator
    May 6, 2020 | 11:59 a.m.

    I am curious about a number of aspects of your program.  I did not see many references to the types of programming languages that you use though one of the students mentioned Python and phone apps.  So my questions are, how do you introduce students to programming and how to you help teachers become fluent in the programming languages that you use?

    Also, do you have any lessons that you have developed using the PBL approach that you can share?  I am involved with a program called STEMucation Academy which is a PD program to teach teachers how to use Challenge Based Learning in the classroom.  The teachers who have been involved in the program have developed multiple units for classroom implementation but we have "zero" lessons relating to computer science. I would therefore be interested in any classroom ready units of instruction that you may have and can share.  Our website for our own units of instruction are at http://stemucationacademy.com/units/ to give you an example.

    Thanks in advance for your response.  Great video! Good luck in your program.

  • Icon for: Douglas Edwards

    Douglas Edwards

    Lead Presenter
    Research Associate II
    May 6, 2020 | 05:32 p.m.

    Hi Jack,

    Thanks for your question and well wishes. We introduce teachers and students to programming through EarSketch, a free browser based computational music remixing platform and instructional curriculum developed by two of our colleagues at Georgia Tech, Jason Freeman and Brian Magerko. In EarSketch students learn computational thinking and introductory coding by remixing sound samples made by Young Guru, Jay Z’s audio engineer, and Richard Devine, an award winning sound synthesizer composer. Recently sound samples from Ciara and Common have been added based on a partnership with Amazon to host EarSketch competitions.

    EarSketch supports Python and Javascript and can toggle between blocks and text. Our first year course CAPACiTY IDT dissemination teachers attended a 1 week PD in the summer, were supported throughout the year with a couple of evening webinars, are responded to promptly on questions they have, and became part of the EarSketch community of practice teacher group.

    Since the IDT course standards require blocks-based programming we introduce EarSketch in that course with Python blocks and in the second year Computer Science Principles (CSP) course teachers use the 3 unit curriculum developed through EarSketch’s previously NSF sponsored DR-K12 project to code in Python or Javascript, though we recommend Javascript to give students familiarity with some of the syntax of Java which is the required language in AP CS A.

    Our first year CAPACiTY IDT curriculum consists of 4 classroom ready units and can be accessed by going to the tinyurl request link http://tiny.cc/9pgicz. The EarSketch CSP/AP CSP curriculum is integrated into the platform itself in the curriculum panel. Teacher materials that guide teachers how to instruct using the curriculum panel can be requested in the Teacher Materials and Community link toward the bottom of the curriculum panel. that is on the right side of the EarSketch platform.

     
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    Discussion is closed. Upvoting is no longer available

    Michael I. Swart
  • Icon for: Jack Broering

    Jack Broering

    Program Coordinator
    May 6, 2020 | 06:29 p.m.

    Thanks for the info Douglas.  I accessed the website you referenced and have signed up to gain access.  Thanks again for your response.

  • Icon for: Mike Ryan

    Mike Ryan

    Co-Presenter
    May 9, 2020 | 01:00 a.m.

    Hi, Jack. For this project, the only CS curricular pieces we have developed are pieces that really only work in the context of the CAPACiTY project units. We do not have stand-alone PBL CS lessons. Exploring Computer Science (https://www.exploringcs.org/) might have something along the lines you are seeking? Thanks!

  • Icon for: Ed Liu

    Ed Liu

    Researcher
    May 8, 2020 | 09:53 a.m.

    The project based learning model is so powerful for engaging students in CS learning. I also like the focus on student agency. How do teachers balance being responsive to student interests with steering the projects in such a way to ensure that students engage in CS at a level of depth and rigor to develop key stills? This takes a fair amount of deftness and skill on the part of teachers. Are there any supports for doing this well?

  • Icon for: Diley Hernandez

    Diley Hernandez

    Co-Presenter
    May 8, 2020 | 11:41 a.m.

    Hi Ed,
    Thanks for the question. On one hand, the curriculum has embedded activities that help teachers move the project at different levels and this helps maintain interest throughout the year. For example, the focus of the project in unit 1 and 2 require students to do more research and provide informational information to audience, but in units 3 and 4 students are asked to create music and a game representation of their problems which involves a different way to think about the topic and encourage their agency (each artifact is engaging their audiences differently). This helps maintain interest even when students stick to their topic all year, but students are also afforded the opportunity during the transition from unit 1 to unit 2 to change topics (it is early enough that they can choose this, and at this point they already know if this is a topic they want to stick with for the rest of the year). From the teacher perspective, in the professional development sessions, we talk to them about these different points in the curriculum, so they are aware of how to help students manage those opportunities. One of the hardest moments in indeed when students bring in a topic that might be too specific or too broad that the teachers know it will not lend itself to the requirements of the later curriculum tasks. We talk a lot to the teachers about this moment and how to work with the students in figuring out how to either elevate or make more concrete their topics without losing the spirit of the idea the students bring to the class. This is an entirely teacher facilitated task. We also talk to them about the importance of balancing and maintaining student sense of choice and voice, while helping them progress throughout the curriculum tasks. It is indeed challenging and our hypothesis is that as the teachers do this more than once, they get a better sense of how to handle this dynamic (which is consistent with what we know from the PBL literature on the time it takes for teachers to change their practice). We are still studying “how” this occurs in the implementation.

  • Icon for: Douglas Edwards

    Douglas Edwards

    Lead Presenter
    Research Associate II
    May 8, 2020 | 01:34 p.m.

    Hi Ed,

    This is in combination with Diley's reply in response to the part of your question about balancing interests with depth and rigor. Computational rigor is emphasized in units 3 and 4 when students design and develop computational music using EarSketch and a game app using App Inventor. During both of these units students work in pairs and have both project management and computational artifact production roles. As they progress through each unit they do individual mini tasks similar to tasks that are required to do their project.

    As an example in unit 3, each student will complete a mini task in beat making that involves learning the string data type and applying the EarSketch API function makeBeat. By the end of this unit each will make and computationally loop their own beat that will be different sections of one song that includes both students beats. In all units, students give and receive peer feedback on fulfilling the challenge technically and creatively before receiving teacher feedback to iterate at the depth and rigor required. In addition the students rotate their project management roles in units 2, 3, and 4 so that all individually experience a project leadership role in each unit.

  • Icon for: Jack Broering

    Jack Broering

    Program Coordinator
    May 8, 2020 | 01:40 p.m.

    I found this discussion to hit very close to home in our own program (STEMucation Academy).  In our case, when a topic is too specific or too broad, our teachers engage the students in a discussion about the topic at hand (The Big Idea), and discuss some of the challenges that have to be dealt with for that particular topic.  The teacher then engages the stuends in a brain-storming session to talk about real-world problems related to the topic they might work on as a class.  Most teachers have multiple classes that they teach during the day in the same subject so the brainstorming sessions occur during multiple classes during the day.  After each brainstorming session the teacher either selects an acceptable project the students offered, or, if no one has suggested an acceptable problem to work on, the teacher explains to the class that they will take their ideas, consolidate them and get back to them the next day.  This allows the teacher to sort through all of the ideas suggested by all of their classes and shape them to fit the learning objectives they must address.  In an ideal world, the students will come up with an appropriate problem to solve.  The less-ideal, fallback position is for the teacher to get back to them the next day with the problem selected for the class to attack.  In most cases, students will suggest tackling the right problem but sometimes it requires some finessing by the teacher.

  • Icon for: Lisa Flores

    Lisa Flores

    Researcher
    May 11, 2020 | 12:32 p.m.

    Great work!  I'm interested in knowing how cultural authenticity was implemented in the program. What practices were added to the program to address this, and was it measured in the assessment of the program? (If so, how was this assessed?)  Thanks for sharing your work!

  • Icon for: Diley Hernandez

    Diley Hernandez

    Co-Presenter
    May 11, 2020 | 06:05 p.m.

    Hi Lisa,
    Thank you for your question. In order to promote an environment that was personally, socially and culturally authentic for students our curriculum was built around practices that supported students’ choice and voice. Several pedagogical practices and the project based learning arch were designed to support student autonomous engagement, but we also used asset-based pedagogical practices that helped validate students personal and cultural contributions, and activities that were designed to promote agency in order to support their voice in the classroom. In addition, we also focused on promoting collaborative learning experiences that increase equity, and created implementations aimed at reducing social identity/stereotype threat, as a way to support students’ identity and strengthen their sense of belonging in their classroom community. Taken together, these are what we consider the four critical components of our culturally authentic practices. There are other more specific ones we also used (employing storytelling as a way to promote alternate meaning making, encourage critical analysis of equity and justice issues through discussions of representation, etc), but the bulk of the practices are around those main four general components. We are in the process of studying the how these practices were implemented by teachers and teacher and students perspectives on them, and we are using a combination of qualitative and quantitative sources like classroom videos, interviews, focus groups and survey responses.

  • May 12, 2020 | 06:10 p.m.

    A great program that brings programming and computational thinking to students, with a clear framework integrating PBL and CAP and STEM justice.  So excited that CAPACITY is already looking to scale.  What are the prospects (before and after COVID) for this next step?

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