Building Capacity in Computer Science Education and Student Near Peer Classroom Mentorship
Building Capacity in Computer Science Education and Student Near Peer Classroom Mentorship is a 3-year medium-size research-practice partnership that aims to increase the number of high school computer science teachers by designing, evaluating, and iterating on a professional development model that uses culturally relevant pedagogy and integration into mathematics classrooms. The RPP is a collaboration between The Young People’s Project (YPP), Boston Public Schools (BPS), Bootstrap, and Boston University. The goal of this project is to provide professional development for BPS teachers that uses a classroom model of instruction developed by YPP, the Algebra Project, and Bootstrap and integrates CS into existing 9th grade mathematics classrooms. The project promises to build the computer science teaching capacity in BPS, and to test a model of computer science (CS) teaching that is responsive to the needs of students from racial/ethnic groups underrepresented in CS. Greater capacity will include providing learning opportunities for BPS teachers currently teaching Algebra or other entry level mathematics courses in high schools as well as an infusion of college students who work as learners and educators alongside classroom teachers. The infusion of college students, YPP’s Model of Excellence, and a discourse-based curriculum supports a culturally relevant approach to CS learning that can provide entry points for a target population of students not currently offered computer science education in BPS.
Computation has become standard within professional scientific, engineering, and mathematical disciplines, even serving to connect people across fields for interdisciplinary work. It has expanded capacities for sensitivity in data collection, analytic processing, and data representation, allowing researchers to go smaller, further, and deeper into their disciplines than ever before. Despite decades-long efforts to broaden STEM participation, the underrepresentation of people from communities of color persists in STEM across many areas, including CS, in learning spaces and in industry in the United States.
Developing capacity among mathematics teachers for teaching culturally relevant computer science learning requires an evolving community of practice that includes educators, school leaders, students, and researchers. Important ingredients in this work are teachers and College STEM Literacy Workers who can forge an integrated practice in CS and mathematics in classrooms that can effectively impact students from groups historically underrepresented in CS and become leaders for CS education in the district. To develop teachers’ capacity for CS teaching and leadership, the project will build an effective research practice partnership that includes a designed based implementation research process focused on the design and impact of the professional learning opportunity for teachers.
The project will add to the knowledge in the field of computer science teacher education by connecting designed dimensions of the culturally relevant professional development model (e.g., near peer teaching, college students as educators) with teacher learning outcomes, including what teachers learn and their attitudes toward computer science. For example, we will contribute to knowledge in the field about what college students, majoring in fields related to computer science, learn about teaching. The project will also contribute knowledge about how teachers develop agency as computer science teacher mentors.
Broader impact from the project will include the creation of a sustainable professional development model for culturally relevant computer science education. This model will be created in partnership with the school district and will create 18 mathematics teachers ready to integrate computer science into their classrooms and trained to act as teacher mentors to integrate computer science and mathematics for the rest of the district. The resulting professional development will initially create opportunities to expand participation in CS for about 1500 students from racial/ethnic groups underrepresented in computer science.