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STEM I-Mods Profile


Broadening Participation of Elementary School Teachers and Students in Computer Science through STEM Integration and Statewide Collaboration

Overview:

Computing has become an integral part of the practice of in modern science, technology engineering, and mathematics (STEM) fields. As a result, the STEM+Computing Partnership (STEM+C) program seeks to integrate the use of computational approaches in K-12 STEM teaching and learning and understand how this integration can improve STEM learning, engagement, and persistence. Computational Thinking (CT) is a relatively new educational focus and a clear need for learners as a 21st century skill. This proposal tackles this challenging new area for young learners, an area greatly in need of research and learning materials. This project will develop integrated STEM and CT modules for grades 1-6 that follow new Massachusetts standards for Digital Literacy and Computer Science. They will partner with the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (ESE) for the development and implementation. There are almost no curriculum materials and accompanying assessments developed and tested for CT in this grade band. This development work alone would give the proposal potential for broader impact. However, a set of materials and accompanying Professional Development (PD) for teachers who will employ the materials of the quality that the authors propose has a tremendous potential for broader impact. This is improved by the strong partnership with the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education for both development and implementation and the alignment with newly developed standards for Digital Literacy and Computer Science in Massachusetts. 100 teachers will participate in the PD. The set of modules will be used in the 1,154 elementary schools in Massachusetts immediately and they plan to disseminate further. The assessments the team will develop and share will enable many researchers to quickly improve their research in CT learning, as currently, there are no strong assessments available. The research plan will not only examine the effectiveness of the curriculum by examining both changes in student and teacher learning and attitudes towards CT, it will also investigate how the modules are implemented and deepen the field's understanding of what is effective STEM+C integration practices and of how teachers can best address the challenges that arise.


This project will develop, implement and test 18 integrated STEM and CT modules for grades 1-6 based on the new Massachusetts standards for Digital Literacy and Computer Science. They will partner with the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education for the development and implementation. Their first research question investigates how teachers teach with the materials and how to help teachers overcome obstacles in this area. They will use a combination of survey and Design Based research methodologies to address this question through activity feedback and summary logs for teachers for each module, notes from teacher professional learning community meetings, selected classroom field notes, and through developing and employing a fidelity of implementation measure. The second research question investigates the effects of the modules on student and teacher learning and attitudes of CT. The will develop and/or adapt a teacher survey and student CT assessments. The will use these in a comparison study with approximately 200 classrooms, half in a control condition and half in the treatment condition, resulting in approximately 2500 students per condition. In addition to the traditional dissemination methods of journal and conference publications and presentations, these modules and the associated assessments will immediately become part of Massachusetts elementary school curriculum, and will be available at no cost from the State of Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education website.