Nav: Home

Professor awarded NSF grant to identify best practices for K-12 computing education

October 04, 2016

Researchers from Rochester Institute of Technology and Bradley University are finding the best ways to get diverse pre-college students interested in computing as a career.

Adrienne Decker, an assistant professor of interactive games and media at RIT, and Monica McGill, an associate professor of game design at Bradley University, have received a $1.19 million grant from the National Science Foundation to study the long-term impact of computing activities students have engaged in prior to college.

The five-year study will look at the growing number of groups devoted to increasing interest in computing among K-12 students. These governmental, commercial and not-for-profit programs--including code.org, Black Girls Code and university-led summer programs--are fueled by the nation's critical need for more technology workers with computing skills.

"To increase the number of skilled tech workers, we need to have effective practices for engaging students, as well as piquing and holding their interest so that they pursue it as a career," said McGill.

"Seeing the explosion of these organizations, the questions we naturally asked were, 'Does this work and what parts are working best?'" said Decker. "There is little to no longitudinal data that exists, so we are setting out to find the answers."

Decker and McGill began by collecting pilot data with an online survey at six universities, including RIT and Bradley University. They asked people if they participated in any of these programs, what they remember and how it impacted them.

Today, the researchers are diving deeper. They are trying to understand the past and current state of affairs of all activities that focus on teaching computer science prior to college.

The NSF project, titled "Collaborative Research: Establishing and Propagating a Model for Evaluating the Long Term Impact of Pre-College Computing Activities," will show how investments in these pre-college computing activities are paying off. The researchers hope to identify best practices for long-term success with the programs and disseminate that information to other educational researchers.

"Best practices could include making sure the program schedules an hour of outdoor activity during the day or perhaps that students have an assignment to complete at home," said Decker. "We don't know what we'll find, but we want those key pieces so that students come away with an appreciation for computing and how it fits into their lives."

Through the project, researchers will also create the tools necessary to track the long-term success of these activities.

"One of these tools, for example, will be a repository to aid researchers in reviewing what types activities have been previously implemented and what their outcomes were," said McGill. "Another tool we aim to create is a repository for researchers and practitioners to enter their own data, so we can track this data collectively."

The pair says that a significant part of the project will focus on the demographics of the learners, because often what works for one set of learners may not work for another. The project will analyze data based on gender and ethnicity, in hopes of better promoting computing among underrepresented groups.

"It's important that young people are not just consumers of technology, but also creators of technology," said Decker. "We don't want everyone to become a programmer, but they do need to understand how to use these tools and push technology further in their chosen field."
-end-
To learn more about Decker and McGill's work, go to the NSF abstract website.

Rochester Institute of Technology

Related Technology Articles:

How technology use affects at-risk adolescents
More use of technology led to increases in attention, behavior and self-regulation problems over time for adolescents already at risk for mental health issues, a new study from Duke University finds.
Hold-up in ventures for technology transfer
The transfer of technology brings ideas closer to commercialization. The transformation happens in several steps, such as invention, innovation, building prototypes, production, market introduction, market expansion, after sales services.
The ultimate green technology
Imagine patterning and visualizing silicon at the atomic level, something which, if done successfully, will revolutionize the quantum and classical computing industry.
New technology detects COPD in minutes
Pioneering research by Professor Paul Lewis of Swansea University's Medical School into one of the most common lung diseases in the UK, Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease, has led to the development of a new technology that can quickly and easily diagnose and monitor the condition.
New technology for powder metallurgy
Tecnalia leads EFFIPRO (Energy EFFIcient PROcess of Engineering Materials) project, which shows a new manufacturing process using powder metallurgy.
New milestone in printed photovoltaic technology
A team of researchers at Friedrich-Alexander-Universität have achieved an important milestone in the quest to develop efficient solar technology as an alternative to fossil fuels.
Gene Drive Technology: Where is the future?
For this episode of BioScience Talks, we're joined by Gene Drive Committee co-chair James P.
Could Hollywood technology help your health?
The same technology used by the entertainment industry to animate characters such as Gollum in 'The Lord of The Rings' films, will be used to help train elite athletes, for medical diagnosis and even to help improve prosthetic limb development, in a new research center at the University of Bath launched today.
Assessing carbon capture technology
Carbon capture and storage could be used to mitigate greenhouse gas emissions and thus ameliorate their impact on climate change.
New technology for dynamic projection mapping
It has been thought technically difficult to achieve projection mapping onto a moving/rotating object so that images look as though they are fixed to the object.

Related Technology Reading:

Best Science Podcasts 2019

We have hand picked the best science podcasts for 2019. Sit back and enjoy new science podcasts updated daily from your favorite science news services and scientists.
Now Playing: TED Radio Hour

Digital Manipulation
Technology has reshaped our lives in amazing ways. But at what cost? This hour, TED speakers reveal how what we see, read, believe — even how we vote — can be manipulated by the technology we use. Guests include journalist Carole Cadwalladr, consumer advocate Finn Myrstad, writer and marketing professor Scott Galloway, behavioral designer Nir Eyal, and computer graphics researcher Doug Roble.
Now Playing: Science for the People

#530 Why Aren't We Dead Yet?
We only notice our immune systems when they aren't working properly, or when they're under attack. How does our immune system understand what bits of us are us, and what bits are invading germs and viruses? How different are human immune systems from the immune systems of other creatures? And is the immune system so often the target of sketchy medical advice? Those questions and more, this week in our conversation with author Idan Ben-Barak about his book "Why Aren't We Dead Yet?: The Survivor’s Guide to the Immune System".