Brittany Ann Kos

2016

ICER Full Paper

Computer Science Principles: Impacting Student Motivation & Learning Within and Beyond the Classroom.

The Computer Science (CS) Principles framework seeks to broaden student participation and diversity in the field by focusing on the creative and social aspects of computing. As the pilot effort undergoes its early execution phases, this research contributes to the theoretical and practical application of CS Principles. We investigated the impact of CS Principles on student motivation and learning outcomes and sought to determine if the pedagogy created any lasting change on student perceptions of CS as a field of practice.

We report a case study of how CS Principles created an effective framework for introducing undergraduate students to the fundamentals of computer science. We discuss how Self-Determination Theory instantiates Self-Directed Learning, Constructionist, and Connectivist learning theories, which can be used to inform the pedagogical framework. Quantitative and qualitative measures were used to assess the impact of CS Principles on student motivation and learning outcomes, followed by an additional surveying of students one year after the completion of the course.

Results indicate that CS Principles facilitated positive programming experiences for students, helped increase learning interest and improve attitudes of CS as a field of study, positively changed perceptions of CS as a creative practice, and also encouraged students to continue learning CS after the course had finished. In particular, many non-majority students in the course self-reported to having positive changes and attitudes about CS explicitly because of the course. These finding suggest that CS Principles is a step in the right direction for creating more engaging and compelling curricula to diverse groups of students, especially those with minimal experience and exposure in the field. We discuss opportunities for future work using the selected theoretical framework for CS Principles.

Behnke, K. A., Kos, B. A., Bennett, J. (2016). Computer Science Principles: Impacting Student Motivation & Learning Within and Beyond the Classroom. ICER '16 Proceedings of the 2016 ACM Conference on International Computing Education Research, (Melbourne, AUS, 2016), 171-180.

2015

SIGSCE Work-in-Progress

STEM Careers Infographic Project (SCIP): Teaching Media-Based Computational Thinking Practices

The STEM Career Infographic Project (SCIP) was a 4-week exploratory project deployed in an 8th grade classroom at Mountain Vista Middle School (MVMS). SCIP was poised to address the growing focus on STEM fields at MVMS and within the school district. We piloted SCIP in Spring 2014 with six science classes or about 180 students. SCIP allowed for students to explore their own STEM interests, while simultaneously engaging in the 6 Computational Thinking Practices (CTP) outlined by the College Board.

Students were required to research a STEM career in-depth, then report on their careers using infographics (CTP #2: Creating Computational Artifacts and CTP #3: Abstracting). We used free and online programs to create the infographics; this provided the students the opportunity to learn software they were not previously exposed to and to explore new communication tools (CTP #1: Connecting Computing and CTP #2: Analyzing Problems and Artifacts). SCIP also provided many occasions for the students to work together by sharing career information or helping each other with the software (CTP #6: Collaborating). At the end of the project the students presented their infographics in front of the class and taught their classmates about their career (CTP #5: Communicating).

The project was incredibly successful. The students had a positive affect through the duration of the project and many also expressed an extreme level of interest in doing similar projects in the future. We will be repeating this project in Spring 2015, with a few adaptations and formal evaluation scheme.

Kos, B. A., Sims, E. (2015). STEM Careers Infographic Project (SCIP): Teaching Media-Based Computational Thinking Practices. SIGCSE ‘15: Proceedings of the 46th ACM Technical Symposium on Computer Science Education, (Kansas City, MO, USA, 2015), 681.

2014

RMCWiC Full Paper Best Paper

Infographics: The New 5-Paragraph Essay

The STEM Career Infographic Project (SCIP) was a 5-week exploratory project deployed in an 8th grade classroom at Mountain Vista Middle School (MVMS) in the spring of 2014. Students were required to research a STEM career in-depth, then report on their careers using infographics, in lieu of a standard 5-paragraph essay. SCIP was broken down into 9 days of instruction: introduction, research, three days of design lecture, three work days, and a final presentation day. The students were in the lab working on their infographics every day. We observed that infographics were better suited than traditional essays in areas that involved creativity and visual appeal, limited writing for ESL (English as a Second Language) students, fostering and appealing to student’s interests, and overall student enjoyment. Some of the negative obstacles we encountered revolved around limitations of free and online software, addressing the learning curve of technology, and altering student’s expectations of reporting tools. Overall, we considered SCIP a success because of the positive affect we recognized in the students through the duration of the project.

Kos, B. A., Sims, E. (2014). Infographics: The New 5-Paragraph Essay. 2014 Rocky Mountain Celebration of Women in Computing, (Laramie, WY, USA, 2014).