Poster #110: “We'll be Scratching All the Time.” Understanding the Role of Language in Computational Thinking Education for Elementary Teachers
10:00 AM - 12:00 PM
Thu Mar 12, 2020
Exhibit Hall E


School systems globally have begun to integrate computational thinking (CT) practices into elementary teaching and learning standards to provide young students with a comfort for and foundational understanding of computer science. This integration requires educating teachers to develop and implement CT learning opportunities. Our work contributes to best practice by exploring the role language plays in elementary teachers' discussions and development of CT-infused science lessons. To do this, we captured and analyzed the language used by elementary teachers as they spoke and wrote about CT in a multi-week professional development experience during which the teachers created and delivered CT-infused lessons to their students. We determined that teachers exhibited differing CT conceptualizations, which we categorized from broad to narrow. These differences were not, however, observed in either their spoken or written language. While there were instances of teachers using language that mirrored how the facilitators discussed CT, this use did not align with how they conceptualized CT. Our work analyzing connections between CT language use and CT conceptualization suggests that in order to understand how teachers are conceptualizing CT, professional development designers and teacher educators should focus on creating opportunities for teachers to employ CT practices in context rather than relying only on language. We feel this will support a more precise and nuanced engagement with CT.

Heather Killen Doctoral Candidate, Technology and STEM Education, University Of Maryland
Merijke Coenraad PhD Student, University of Maryland
Lautaro Cabrera University of Maryland
Kelly Mills Digital Promise Global
Diane Jass Ketelhut Associate Professor, University of Maryland
Jan Plane Director: Maryland Center for Women in Computing, University of Maryland