PhD student Sharin Jacob presented at the 2019 International Conference of the Teachers of English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL) Convention in Atlanta, Georgia, March 12-15. The convention offers professional development opportunities to more than 6,500 English language educators at all levels from around the world. Ms. Jacob will be discussing how to support dual language learners’ development of computational thinking, literacy, and positive attitudes towards computer science.
Computational thinking (CT) is an essential skill for full participation in today’s society. CT represents an approach to solving problems using concepts essential to computing. It involves the ability to formulate thoughts in a manner that is communicable to a computer to achieve desired results (Wing, 2006). Success in this dynamic workforce requires students to think computationally and navigate multiple levels of abstraction to find innovative solutions for perplexing problems. Yet as one of the fastest growing populations in US schools, language learners remain dramatically underrepresented in computer courses and careers (Martin, McAlear, & Scott 2015). Schools serving greater numbers of language learners offer half as many computer science courses as those serving fewer language learners (Martin & McAlear, 2015). Realizing these students’ talents would greatly benefit them while enhancing future US technological innovation, this convergent mixed methods study explores how an upper elementary computational thinking curriculum supports dual language learners’ development of computational thinking, literacy, and positive attitudes towards computer science. The presentation will provide a brief overview of data from multiple CT assessments and attitude survey data, student discourse analyses results, along with illustrative excerpts from teacher focus groups and student interviews.