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CT in STEM Profile

Collaborative Research: Integrating computing in STEM: Designing, developing, and investigating a team-based professional development model for middle- and high-school teachers


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 and computing activities within STEM teaching and learning in early childhood education through high school (preK-12). The goal of this collaborative STEM+Computing project is to design, develop, and investigate outcomes of professional development (PD) designed to support in-service teachers in integrating computing and STEM curricula across middle- and high-school classrooms. Approximately 360 teachers in North Carolina and South Carolina will be recruited to participate in summer PD workshops. In each state, one workshop will implement a new PD model that provides interdisciplinary teams of STEM+C teachers with an opportunity to work with the investigators and together -- in the workshop and throughout the academic year -- to build lessons, activities, and resources that integrate computing into classroom-based activities. These resources will be freely shared with other teachers and the public. A second workshop in each state will employ a more traditional, single-teacher focused approach to PD. Following the workshops, the project will support the teachers year-round through monthly online meetings, and opportunities to participate in an online forum and attend in-person sessions. Investigators from Citadel Military College of South Carolina and North Carolina State University will collaborate to: design and develop the team-based PD; investigate its effects on educational practice; create computational tools as needed to support classroom-based activities; and work to advance knowledge on how the new resources can be effectively adopted across diverse classrooms, contexts, and cultures.
This project will explore how PD contexts (e.g., individual or team) and cultures (discipline, state) impact the quality and implementation of STEM curricula integrated with computing. The PD will be implemented and studied in three phases, with a particular focus on teacher outcomes, utilizing data obtained through administration of extant instrumentation, interviews, focus groups, video and audio recordings of classroom interactions, and analyses of artifacts. Members of the project team will design new integrated STEM+C curricula; develop standards crosswalks; map the curricula to standards; develop, test, and refine tools (including Snap! programming modules that will help students integrate complex computing and STEM content into creative projects); build and support a community of teachers integrating computing in STEM; and conduct a rigorous comparison study across two states (North Carolina and South Carolina), and PD types (individual and team). Standards crosswalks and project research will make explicit connections across state and national STEM standards, computing standards school curricula, and classroom contexts. An independent evaluator will assess: implementation; teachers' reactions to professional learning; changes in teacher content knowledge as a result of professional learning, and implications for classroom instruction; and teachers' attitudes and behaviors, and the extent to which teachers are adopting new computing pedagogies and activities.