CONECTAR: Collaborative Network of Educators for Computational Thinking for All Research

We collaborate with university and K-12 researchers and practitioners to promote computational thinking for students in grades three through five.

Debra Richardson, University of California, Irvine, Donald Bren School of Information & Computer Sciences
Mark Warschauer, University of California, Irvine, School of Education
Tom Turner, Orange County Department of Education, Instructional Services Division

Sharin Jacob, University of California, Irvine, School of Education

Project Funding
National Science Foundation, September 1, 2017–August 31, 2019, Grant No. 1738825, $299,556

The University of California Irvine (UCI) is partnering with the Orange County Department of Education (OCDE) and Santa Ana Unified School District (SAUSD) to form a collaborative network of university and K-12 researchers and practitioners with the aim of promoting computational thinking for students in grades three through five. The intention is to build connections to a broader curriculum as reflected in the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) and the Common Core State Standards (CCSS), to the language and discourse needed to ensure academic success, and to the learners’ peers, community, families and culture needed to make learning relational and meaningful. The work will be situated in Santa Ana schools, where the majority of students are low-income, Hispanic, English language learners. It will use the principles of Design-Based Implementation Research (DBIR), designing interventions to implement, study and refine, alongside OCDE and SAUSD.

In the first academic year, the team will visit partner elementary schools to gather information about current teaching of computational thinking, conduct a district-wide survey of elementary school teachers, and gather examples of instructional materials developed nationally to determine those that could be adapted locally. During the first summer, researchers will work with a team of teachers to develop pilot materials and instructional units for the 3rd, 4th, and 5th grade levels. These materials–scaffolded for non-native English speakers–will integrate computational thinking with NGSS and CCSS. During the second year, teachers will implement the instructional materials in their classrooms with support from UCI and OCDE. Data will be gathered to study the implementation process, the challenges faced and how they are addressed, the extent to which the materials engage the learners on the emotional, behavioral, and cognitive levels, and the suitability of the materials for promoting computational thinking among the targeted learners. During the second summer, the team will further refine materials for broader implementation in Orange County.