Identifying Effective Models for Integrating Computational Thinking into NYC Elementary Schools
2017 - 2020

Computational thinking (CT) is a rapidly growing focus area for integration into K–12 schooling. But the research on the processes by which teachers and school administrators can integrate CT is relatively limited—given competing priorities—especially in the area of elementary education.

With one of the first grants made by the Robin Hood Learning + Technology Fund, in partnership with Overdeck Family Foundation and Siegel Family Endowment, EDC will conduct case studies in five New York City elementary schools to begin building a knowledge base about effective models for integrating computational thinking into elementary education. During this three-year project, the EDC team will work closely with five high-poverty New York City elementary schools that are piloting, with the help of an external implementation partner, several approaches to integrating CT into elementary instruction. Our goal is to understand how those models work in various contexts, and which models may be particularly effective.

This work is undertaken in collaboration with Dr. Maya Israel of the University of Illinois-Urbana Champaign and with the Research Alliance for NYC Schools. Researchers will document the school contexts, the implementation partner’s support, and the CT integration process. We also will collect data to assess changes in subject area competency, CT competency, academic self-regulation, and self-efficacy outcomes for students. With the help of advisor Dr. Karen Brennan of Harvard University, we also will examine the CT integration practices of teachers in each school, and the changes in the CT integration mindsets of the teachers and principals of participating schools.

Our team will draw upon our analyses of these data to create blueprints of various CT implementation models, and to develop a framework for effective elementary CT integration that includes a set of outcome measures and a study of the learning outcomes for students across the various models to share with the larger CT community in New York City and beyond. Ultimately, we hope that other elementary schools will be able to use the blueprints and studies to select the CT-integration models most appropriate to their needs, using the framework to guide and enhance their own CT integration work.