Developing and Testing Bilingual Curricula that Infuse Authentic Computer Programming Experiences into Middle School Mathematics for Latinx Youth
The scientific careers of the future increasingly require advanced understandings and applications of computer programming and mathematics. This project is designed to broaden participation in these career pathways and careers by iteratively developing and testing bilingual computer programming curricula in middle school mathematics classes attended primarily by multilingual Latinx students. Aligned with standards in computer programming and mathematics for middle schools, these Spanish and English curricula will guide educators and students through authentic programming tasks, such as those practiced by programmers in Artificial Intelligence fields. With the assistance of undergraduates who are majoring in computer science or a related field, middle school mathematics teachers will implement and revise the proposed curricular materials in partnership with the research team over the course of six semesters. Five middle school students in each class will also serve as co-facilitators of the curricula. Quantitative and qualitative research will determine whether and how the curricula support students’ mathematics learning and attitudes toward mathematics, as well as whether and how the youth co-facilitators reported transformative or challenging experiences relative to their self-concepts in mathematics. Because many students begin to opt out of STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) classes and career pathways in middle school, this project will advance knowledge regarding educational approaches that prepare bilingual youth for continued pursuits along STEM career pathways. The bilingual curricula, which uses low cost and widely accessible programming platforms, will be posted on a project website, and empirical findings and practitioner materials will be disseminated widely. This project is funded by the Innovative Technology Experiences for Students and Teachers (ITEST) program, which supports projects that build understandings of practices, program elements, contexts and processes contributing to increasing students' knowledge and interest in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) and information and communication technology (ICT) careers. In the context of action research conducted with middle school mathematics teachers, this project will iteratively develop, test, and refine Spanish and English curricula, based in principles of translanguaging, which infuse computer programming and mathematics. The mathematics teachers and undergraduates with expertise in computer science will participate in professional development in which they have opportunities to learn, use, and revise the curricula. This project will use a mixed methods research design to study whether and how computer programming supports the teaching and learning of mathematical content; whether and how the use of the bilingual curricula support teachers’ interactions with Latinx students; whether and how the curricula support Latinx and emergent bilingual students’ mathematics learning; and whether changes occurred in middle school students’ attitudes and learning, among other outcomes. The project will employ qualitative analyses of transcripts from interviews with middle school teachers, undergraduate facilitators, and middle school student facilitators; teaching documents such as lesson plans; video-recordings of classroom observations and professional development sessions; and student work. It will also employ quantitative analysis of pre- and post-measures of attitudes and learning in mathematics. In addition to sharing the curricula on a public website, the project will result in video tutorials that will support online and offline class delivery for middle school mathematics teachers with examples of teacher-adapted materials. Empirical research and implications for practitioners will be disseminated widely in peer-reviewed journals and professional conferences. This award reflects NSF's statutory mission and has been deemed worthy of support through evaluation using the Foundation's intellectual merit and broader impacts review criteria.