As computing has become integral to the practice of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM), the STEM + Computing Program seeks to study and advance the applied integration of computational thinking and computing activities within disciplinary STEM teaching and learning in early childhood education through high school (preK-12). Elementary school teachers have a great impact on student motivation to pursue STEM fields of study and careers and are being increasingly asked to emphasize key STEM content, including computer science in their teaching. However, few of these teachers have the academic background to achieve these expectations. This three-year STEM+C project will develop a practice that elementary school teachers can use to integrate the teaching of coding with the standard practices already used to teach mathematics, science and other curriculum content. The project also will develop a model course that prepares teachers to educate students in interdisciplinary, holistic ways to learn mathematics, science, and coding and equips them to guide students through reasoning processes while learning to code. Outcomes will inform the fields of computer science, mathematics, and science education about an argumentation-based approach that integrates the teaching of STEM, a core objective of the STEM+C program.
This project aims to increase attention to computer science coding in elementary classrooms and the probability that elementary students develop interests in coding and other STEM-focused areas of study. To do so, the project will create (a) a learning approach in which novice programmers (i.e., elementary teachers and students) use arguments to develop a coding sequence using structured reasoning instead of trial-and-error, (b) help teachers build content knowledge of programming and extend their knowledge of appropriate mathematics and science pedagogy into the teaching of coding through argumentation, and (c) emphasize the argumentation approach as an integrator for the teaching and learning of coding, mathematics, and science. Activities associated with this project will enhance teachers' understanding of argumentation and then investigate how the teachers implement the CALC approach in grades 3 to 5. Participating teachers will enroll in a graduate-level course that teaches them how to use the CALC approach for coding. Once the teachers complete the course, they will implement the CALC approach in their classroom, helping their students to learn how to code. The research team will coach the teachers in their lesson enactments and will assess the effectiveness of the CALC concept as an age-appropriate method to teach and learn computer science content. Assessment data include capturing teacher actions via video recordings that will be analyzed in an ongoing process, interviews of teachers and assessment of student work.