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Curriculum Design Study

The integration of computer science and mathematics for middle school is a growing area of interest for increasing students' access to computer science concepts. There are natural opportunities to merge the two when considering mathematics topics such as operations on numbers and interpreting and writing algebraic expressions, which are critical concepts for later mathematics. The project will select mathematics topics that research has shown to be challenging for students and develop computer science modules situated in real-world contexts to engage students' and support their learning of both the mathematics and computer science content. The project creates a collaboration between computer scientists, STEM education faculty, and practicing teachers in order to develop these learning modules for middle school. The project will investigate what is needed for schools and teachers to successfully integrate computer science and mathematics. Evidence of learning will be gathered from student work in small groups and individual assessment data. Thus, the study will investigate what it takes to broaden participation in computer science via integration with mathematics. The STEM+Computing Partnership (STEM+C) program seeks to advance multidisciplinary integration of computing in STEM teaching and learning through applied research and development across one or more domains.
The proposed work will examine the implementation of computer science modules for middle-school general mathematics courses (i.e., not just for advanced students). The investigation uses a design-based research framework to study both the creation of modules and their implementation in middle school mathematics. The project will engage design teams, including middle school teachers and university faculty to develop the modules. The mixed methods research design is used to examine both the process of design (i.e., design principles) and the results for student learning in mathematics and computer science. To analyze the data, the project will draw on a "communities of practice framework" to examine the design process used by the team members and relate it to students' learning outcomes.