PhD student Sharin Jacob, Leiny Garcia, and Ha Nguyen presented at the fourth annual Research on Equity and Sustained Participation in Engineering, Computing, and Technology Conference (RESPECT) in Minneapolis, Minnesota on February 27, 2019. The conference theme was Partnering for Inclusion and Equity. Their presentation discussed a NSF-funded Research Practice Partnership (RPP) to develop and pilot instructional materials for teaching computational thinking to Grades 3-5 students, with a focus on multilingual students.
This study discusses a NSF-funded Research Practice Partnership (RPP) to develop and pilot instructional materials for teaching computational thinking to Grades 3-5 students, with a focus on multilingual students. The study takes place in a U.S. school district whose percentages of Latino/a students, language learners, and low-income students are among the highest in the nation. The project is among the first to examine the linguistic and sociocultural factors that facilitate the success of language learners in mastering computational thinking. Utilizing principles of Design-Based Implementation Research in alignment with the RPP approach, researchers worked collaboratively with teachers and administrators to identify problems of practice in computer science education specific to the district. A broad survey of national and regional computer science initiatives was conducted to identify effective approaches for teaching computational thinking to diverse learners. As a result of this survey, the RPP identified a pathbreaking curriculum that aligns with the Computer Science Teachers Association K-12 standards to pilot in five classrooms in the first year of the RPP. The curriculum was further revised to align with the Common Core State Standards for English Language Arts and the California English Language Development standards during a week-long summer institute. This paper describes these experiences, highlighting the integration of computational thinking into an English Language Arts curriculum as well as the linguistic scaffolding strategies utilized to better meet the needs of multilingual students. This experience report uncovers pedagogical practices of computational thinking for diverse students and identifies areas for future work.
Sharin Jacob is a second year PhD in Education student specializing in Language, Literacy, and Technology (LLT). Her research interests include literacy and technology, computer assisted language learning, second language acquisition, academic language and literacy, STEM education, and sociolinguistics. She is advised by Professor Mark Warschauer.