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Maker Partnership: A Research Practice Partnership to Integrate Computer Science and Computational Thinking into Science Instruction

Overview:

As computing has become integral to the practice of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM), the STEM + Computing program seeks to address emerging challenges in computational STEM areas through the applied integration of computational thinking (CT) and computing within disciplinary STEM teaching and learning in early childhood education through high school (preK-12). The three-year exploratory project, Maker Partnership: A Research Practice Partnership to Integrate Computer Science and Computational Thinking into Science Instruction, is designed to build knowledge about how to help teachers successfully integrate computer science (CS) and computational thinking into elementary grade science classes through maker pedagogy and curriculum. Maker pedagogy emphasizes learning through student-centered inquiry, creating, and innovating. It is based on the principles and practices of the engineering design process, which is an iterative cycle that consists of defining a problem, researching, planning, prototyping and testing solutions, and refining the solution as necessary. The project will generate important lessons about how to train and prepare elementary grade teachers to incorporate CS and CT into their science teaching, particularly in the context of high-poverty schools that serve large numbers of Black and Latino youth.
Through a research-practice partnership, the Research Alliance for New York City Schools, Schools That Can, and MakerState will collaborate to iteratively design, implement and test the Maker Partnership curriculum and professional development (PD). The research will address the following research questions: (1) To what degree was the Maker Partnership implemented with fidelity to the program model? What were the facilitators and barriers to implementation? (2) To what degree did participating teachers integrate CS and CT into their in-school science instruction? What inhibited and facilitated that integration? (3) What were the outcomes for teachers participating in the Maker Partnership, in terms of their CS and CT content knowledge, pedagogical knowledge, instructional practice, and dispositions? How did the Maker Partnership curriculum, professional development, and support change teachers' approach to instruction? (4) What were the outcomes for students in participating classrooms, particularly students historically underrepresented in science? How did the maker curriculum and pedagogy influence student engagement, interest and deeper learning of the content? (5) How was the model adapted by teachers and schools to meet their specific context and needs? What are the local context factors that should be considered when expanding the Maker Partnership model to new sites? In the first year of implementation, teachers will participate in a PD and support and then implement the Maker Partnership curriculum in an afterschool setting. Throughout the year, the research team will collect and analyze data on the PD and implementation to inform improvements to the model, with a particular focus on transitioning the curriculum and pedagogical approach from the afterschool setting to the in-school classroom setting. In the second year, the team will work with the same teachers and administrators to implement the model in their science classrooms. They will continue to collect and use data to iterate and refine the curriculum and PD and support and assess outcomes for teachers and students. Data collected throughout the study will include teacher surveys, student pre-post surveys, CS/CT and science skill and content mastery assessments, CT and science standardized tests, school record data, interviews, and observations.