Traditionally, computer science has had low presence in K-12 schools due to a lack of teacher preparation as well as understanding of computer science-related career opportunities among parents, counselors, and teachers. Yet, by 2018, is is projected that 51% of all STEM jobs will be in computer science-related fields. The University of Delaware aims to end this issue by creating outreach programs that not only seek to educate young students about Computer Science, but to also educate teachers and parents on how to better teach children the benefits of CS skills.
The Partner4CS program, initiated at University of Delaware in 2012, leverages partners throughout the state of Delaware to address the goals of CS10K and Computing in the Core. These two nationwide programs are increasing participation in computer science among K-12 teachers and students. The Partner4CS project focuses on (1) offering an annual paid Professional Development Summer Workshop during summer for K-12 teachers interested in integrating computer science into their curricula, (2) supporting and distributing materials for a college field experiences course (taught at the University of Delaware for since 2013) in which undergraduates assist in teaching computer science in local schools and libraries, and (3) organizing an annual Summit for CS Education in Delaware, beginning in 2017.
This project is funded by the National Science Foundation Grants NSF 1240905 and NSF 1639649 and the Delaware Department of Education with PI Lori Pollock and Co-PIs Chrystalla Mouza, James Atlas, and Terry Harvey.
We Compute For Communities aims bring diversity to Computer Science though the education of students in underrepresented communities. It is important to include middle school students from all racial backgrounds in order to democratize the field of computing, since changing only one aspect of the system will not correct the problem. By providing middle school students from all racial background exposure to computer science early on, we can increase the number and diversity of students selecting a computer science course or computer science-related pathway in high school.
This project is an NSF Launch Pilot project funded by Grant 1649224 with PI Lori Pollock and Co-PIs Chrystalla Mouza, Rosalie Rolon Dow, and John Pelesko.
Bringing Computational Thinking to University Gen Ed
Computational Thinking (CT) includes a broad range of mental concepts and tools from computer science that help students analyze and develop solutions to problems within their own disciplines, including: Problem decomposition, abstraction, algorithms, data representation and analysis, and automation. CT is not just for computer scientists. Rather, it is a cognitive skill that the average person is expected to possess. Our overarching project vision is to develop, pilot, and evaluate a model for infusing CT into undergraduate curricula across a variety of disciplines using four strategies that have been tried and tested by prior NSF-supported programs: (1) multiple pathways of CT across general education, (2) faculty professional development, (3) peer mentors, and (4) formative and summative evaluation. Locally, this project is motivated by the recent decision of the University of Delaware to add CT to its general education objectives for all undergraduate students. Nationally, this project is motivated by the need to identify models and practices that help institutions across the nation infuse CT as part of general education, to ensure that all students acquire computational competencies required in a 21st century workforce. While institutions such as DePaul University and Union College led the way in integrating CT into existing, discipline-specific undergraduate courses in the sciences, humanities, and social sciences, a remaining challenge is how to scale these initiatives university-wide to reach all students within a variety of majors and disciplines.
This exploration and design project will contribute to the state of the art through major outcomes that include: (1) a process for developing and infusing CT modules into existing courses across a variety of disciplines; (2) a faculty professional development model, based upon theories of change, to support infusion of CT modules into undergraduate curricula taught by faculty without formal training in CT; (3) a model for preparing undergraduate students to support faculty and peers during course implementation; and (4) materials that can be used to assess students’ learning of CT knowledge and skills. The 2-year pilot implementation will help identify insights and lessons learned into scaling these efforts beyond the early adopters to broader multidisciplinary faculty participation.
By developing and offering professional development workshops and academic-year support through pairing faculty and undergraduates, we are establishing sustainable, high-quality professional development and support for K-12 computer science teachers.