CAREER: API Can Code: Situating Computational Learning Opportunities in the Digital Lives of Students

This award is funded in whole or in part under the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 (Public Law 117-2). This project is also funded through the CS for All: Research and RPPs program.

Computer science and data science are important topics with applications in many STEM disciplines. Data science can bring together computer programming and the data students produce and use in their daily lives as a way to help them understand the impacts of computing on the world. The project will design and study a curricular unit that introduces learners to the powerful ideas of computing by having students pose questions based on their interests and answer them by using programming to gather and analyze large data sets from publicly available platforms. The curriculum will be designed through a partnership with an urban school district to integrate programming in a new data science course. Teachers and researchers will collaborate to develop the curriculum so that it can be shared with other schools. This new course provides a unique and timely opportunity to situate innovative computer science instruction in a district-wide initiative specifically designed to reach students from populations who have historically had little opportunity to learn computer science.

This project will conduct a multi-year design-based research study in high school classrooms and use participatory design, classroom case studies, and a multi-school implementation to develop and research this new CS curricular unit. There is a particular focus on the experience of learners from populations historically excluded from computing. The research is guided by questions about the design of the curriculum and the experiences of the students. For example, how can a curricular unit designed to have learners pose questions based on their interests and answer them using publicly available datasets produce the co-expression of interest and computer science knowledge? How do such educational experiences help learners understand the impact of computing on their lives? How do such educational experiences increase learners’ knowledge of and abilities in computer science? How do such educational experiences impact confidence and self-efficacy for learners historically excluded from computing? The project will gather data from teachers and students using qualitative and quantitative sources. For instance, to capture students’ learning experience, the project will gather video of students’ working and the written artifacts they produce. Participatory design sessions with the teachers will be used to design and revise the resources for classroom use and understand teachers’ perspectives. Field notes and artifacts will be gathered from the participatory design sessions with teachers. Overall, the project will develop knowledge about how to create data science learning experiences for students using a participatory process with teachers.

This award reflects NSF’s statutory mission and has been deemed worthy of support through evaluation using the Foundation’s intellectual merit and broader impacts review criteria.

1/1/2022 - 12/31/2026

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