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Five new grants to support CS education research

Excitement about computer science (CS) education is growing across the country—from educators and students to corporations, governments and nonprofit organizations alike. But as we work together to make CS education more available in the U.S., there’s a need for more scientific education research to determine the best way to teach CS—a fairly new discipline.

After consulting with many CS education experts, we realized that while some research existed, more was needed.

To better understand current research needs, we funded exploratory research and held a gathering of  prominent CS education researchers who advised us on current research needs. Using criteria they helped us develop, we invited more than 100 CS education researchers to contribute proposals for innovative new research.

Today, we’re excited to announce the recipients of the Computer Science (CS) Education Research Awards:

Harvard University Graduate School of Education
Associate Professor Karen Brennan

How do K-12 Teachers Assess Creative Work in CS Classes?

Making CS accessible for all K-12 learners requires opportunities for young people to feel interested in and connected to computing. Creative programming activities foster interest and connection, but uncertainty about how to assess programming as creative work makes it difficult for K-12 teachers to incorporate creativity in the computing classroom. This one-year study will investigate how CS teachers are currently assessing creative curriculum used to teach CS. This research will inform teachers, instructional designers, and researchers about classroom-level decision-making and design.

Indiana University Bloomington School of Education
Associate Professor Anne Leftwich

Examining the Impact of Socially Relevant Problem-based Learning Curriculum at the Elementary Level: Students’ CS Interest/Knowledge and Teachers’ Implementation Needs

This project will pilot a 6th grade student-centered Problem-Based Learning (PBL) with social impact CS curriculum that investigates what support tools can be designed to decrease instances of bullying in schools. The researchers will use a research practice partnership with local 6th grade teachers to improve our understanding of how PBL impacts students’ CS interest and knowledge at the elementary level, and what supports teachers need to facilitate PBL in the CS classroom.

University of Massachusetts Amherst, College of Information and Computer Sciences
W. Richards Adrion, Professor Emeritus

CSforAll in Springfield MA: An Elementary CS/CT Curriculum Integration Pilot

This is a pilot study to integrate Massachusetts’ Digital Learning and Computer Science standards with CS and computational thinking (CT) concepts, learning progressions, and practices in core curricula at the kindergarten and grade 3 levels in the highly diverse Springfield Public School (SPS) district in Massachusetts. The researchers create, assess and revise 16-24 integrated CS/CT lessons in eight schools at each grade level. This project will help us better understand how to increase teacher knowledge and effectiveness for creating and teaching an integrated CS/CT K-5 curricula that reaches and engages diverse students.

University of Pennsylvania Graduate School of Education
Yasmin Kafai, Chair, Teaching, Learning, and Leadership Division

MADE (Music ArtDesign with Etextiles)

This program will introduce students in Career and Technical Education courses to more advanced computing concepts through electronic textile designs. Working together with Exploring Computer Science (ECS) high school teachers, the researchers will collect evidence of student learning and teacher practices to address critical questions about student growth in their CS practices, knowledge, motivation, and future projections. This project will provide curriculum prototypes for integrating arts into high school computing and help us better understand student learning and teacher professional development in Career Technical Education courses.

University of Texas, Austin
Carol Fletcher, Deputy Director Center for STEM Education

Project ROCS (Rural Opportunities in CS)

This project will produce a framework for collecting and reporting outcome measures that accurately show access to and participation in K-12 CS education, especially for students in rural communities. This project will develop viable solutions for measuring, scaling and sustaining equitable access to CS education within rural communities and other historically underserved populations.

Each of the selected grantees brings a unique and innovative approach to addressing current research questions. Stay tuned over the coming year for updates on program recipients' progress and results.

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