Virtual Environment Interactions: Exploring Grounded Embodied Pedagogy in Support of Computational Thinking

PIs: Shaundra Daily, Sabarish Babu, Sophie Joerg, Alison Leonard
Clemson University
Award Details

This INSPIRE award is partially funded by the CE21 Program in the Division of Computer & Network Systems in the Directorate for Computer & Information Science & engineering (CISE), the Cyberlearning Program in the Division of Information & Intelligent Systems in the CISE Directorate, and the Discovery Research K-12 Program in the Division of Research on Learning in Formal and Informal Settings (DRL) in the Directorate for Education & Human Resources (EHR). Clemson University will design, develop, and evaluate a virtual environment and associated curriculum for blending movement and computer programming as a novel and embodied way to engage 5th- and 6th-grade girls with computational thinking. This research will test the hypothesis that girls creating interactive movement for their virtual characters and using their bodies to think through the actuation of the characters should bootstrap their intuitive knowledge in order to learn computational concepts, utilize computational practices, and develop computational perspectives.

The project staff will 1) develop a desktop-based virtual environment in which students must program a 3-dimensional character with which they can later interact (this environment builds on previous successes of similar programming environments, but will utilize grounded embodied pedagogical strategies); 2) conduct iterative design experiments to answer a set of research questions (how does an embodiment-centered curriculum support the development of computational thinking? how does an embodiment-centered curriculum support interest in STEM fields?); and 3) capitalize on the results of these experiments to iteratively refine the virtual environment and curricular materials.

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