EXP: Understanding Computational Thinking Process and Practices in Open-Ended Programming Environments

PIs: Shuchi Grover, Marie Bienkowski, John Stamper
SRI International
Award Details

This project brings together two approaches to help K-12 students learn programming and computer science: open-ended learning environments, and computer-based learning analytics, to help create a setting where youth can get help and scaffolding tailored to what they know about programming without having to take tests or participate in rigid textbook exercises for the system to know what they know.

The project proposes to use techniques from educational data mining and learning analytics to process student data in the Alice programming environment. Building on the assessment design model of Evidence-Centered Design, student log data will be used to construct a model of individual students’ computational thinking practices, aligned with emerging standards including NGSS and research on assessment of computational thinking. Initially, the system will be developed based on an existing corpus of pair-programming log data from approximately 600 students, triangulating with manually-coded performance assessments of programming through game design exercises. In the second phase of the work, curricula and professional development will be created to allow the system to be tested with underrepresented girls at Stanford’s CS summer workshops and with students from diverse high schools implementing the Exploring Computer Science curriculum. Direct observation and interviews will be used to improve the model. Research will address how learners enact computational thinking practices in building computational artifacts, what patters of behavior serve as evidence of learning CT practices, and how to better design constructionist programming environments so that personalized learner scaffolding can be provided. By aligning with a popular programming environment (Alice) and a widely-used computer science curriculum (Exploring Computer Science), the project can have broad impact on computer science education; software developed will be released under a BSD-style license so others can build on it.

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