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Collaborative Research: Adapting Reading Comprehension Strategies for use in Elementary School Computer Science Instruction to Educate Tomorrow?s Computational Innovators: 1660871

Principal Investigator: Diana Franklin
CoPrincipal Investigator(s):
Organization: University of Chicago

In order to produce a more competitive, computer-literate domestic workforce ready to be computational innovators, this project seeks to improve computer science instruction at the upper elementary school level. It will create strategies for teaching a diverse set of students, including students with learning disabilities, English language learners, and students with a variety of ethnic, gender, and socioeconomic backgrounds. It will draw on decades of research on reading comprehension to drive our exploration into metacognitive learning strategies for computer science. While many computer science educational activities focus on older students, this project addresses the need to enhance computer science education for elementary school students and does it in a way that is accessible and effective for diverse student populations. The researchers will explore how reading skills, reading comprehension, and computer programming skills can be related. The ultimate goal will be to identify and develop techniques, including teacher and student resources, for learning to program in the early years. The strategies involved in the project support improving computer science instruction and expanding access to computing for all students.

This project will study skills that are correlated with success in programming, especially as they relate to reading comprehension and metacognitive strategies. It will then modify and pilot-test strategies for use in programming instruction. More specifically, the goals of this project are to: (1) Assess a variety of skills and abilities (e.g. reading comprehension, mathematics, and cognitive skills) to correlate with successfully learning programming. (2) Explore metacognitive strategies used by successful college-level novice programmers. (3) Perform a theoretical analysis of several existing metacognitive learning strategies and how they relate to code comprehension. (4) Develop two promising metacognitive strategies as code comprehension strategies, including teacher modeling and guided instruction resources as well as student resources. (5) Implement new strategies in the classroom to evaluate for usability, fidelity, and impact. This project represents foundational work in understanding the relationship between non-programming skills and learning programming in upper elementary students, as well as the metacognitive strategies that successful learners employ while reading code during the programming learning process. This research represents the beginning of a rich agenda that strives to better understand how to adapt teaching techniques and learning techniques, not just content, for the elementary school audience. Funding for this project comes from the NSF ECR Program.

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