MSU scholars aim to improve computer science in classrooms
A team of scholars from the Michigan State University College of Education will develop new methods to enhance computer science education in schools.
The collaboration is funded by a nearly $1 million grant from the National Science Foundation.
The team will work directly with the Oakland Intermediate School District to implement curriculum changes, focusing on minority and economically disadvantaged students to encourage their learning of the computer science field.
“It is important students not only use computers, but also engage them in computer science ideas and practices to help them understand how computing influences our world,” said project leader Aman Yadav, associate professor and expert in computer science education.
The project will serve as a commitment to Computer Science for All, a nationwide, community-based initiative aimed at empowering educators and learners to engage and think critically with computational thinking skills.
Yadav made the 2017 MSU commitment at the CSforAll Consortium in October, joining more than 170 other organizations in promoting science, technology, engineering, mathematics and computer science education.
Yadav is working with Emily Bouck, professor with expertise in special education; Christina Schwarz, associate professor with expertise in science education; and Niral Shah, assistant professor with expertise in mathematics education, to help make the goals of the three-year project a reality.
“We will work with teachers to co-design computational thinking activities and lessons to help students understand computational thinking concepts, such as algorithms and abstraction,” Yadav said. “This will allow students to understand computer science principles and expose them to practices that computer scientists engage in.”
In the first year of the project, the curriculum will be developed and modified based on what Yadav and the team learn from the schools on how computational thinking can be embedded into practice.
In summer 2018, they will implement a professional development pilot for teachers to help them bring the new curriculum into the classroom. Additional teachers will join in 2019.
By 2020, they aim to have worked with 50 elementary school teachers to embed computational thinking in grades 3-5, ultimately benefiting more than 1,250 students.
Yadav will be updating the project’s website on the status of the project, and materials that other teachers can utilize in their own classrooms.