The impact of an issue-centered problem-based learning curriculum on 6th grade girls’ understanding of and interest in computer science

UNCG Author/Contributor (non-UNCG co-authors, if there are any, appear on document)
Hamid Nadir, Assistant Professor (Creator)
The University of North Carolina at Greensboro (UNCG )
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Abstract: Many stakeholders have suggested that if girls are not engaged in computer science at an early age, the field of computer science (CS) (and computing-related fields) will continue to lack gender diversity. We need more explorations of how curriculum impacts girls’ interest in computer science at the elementary level. The focus of this research project was to examine how an elementary problem-based learning (PBL) curriculum impacted girls’ understanding of and interest in CS. By utilizing a curriculum focused on a problem that emphasized social activism, we hypothesized that PBL CS could increase interest in CS for girls. This study used a mixed-method sequential explanatory research design to examine the implementation of a CS PBL curriculum with four 6th grade teachers and their 263 students. We collected student CS knowledge pre-tests and post-tests, student attitude surveys, student focus group interviews, teacher interviews, and researcher observation reflection notes. The knowledge tests were analyzed using a mixed measures ANOVA. The survey responses were analyzed using ANOVAs and effect sizes for each comparison were calculated using partial eta squared. The qualitative data was analyzed using a thematic approach that required four researchers to come to a consensus. Results suggested that although girls had less understanding of CS at the beginning, by the end of the curriculum, girls and boys performed similarly. However, there were still elements that were not successful. Girls’ attitudes towards computer science were significantly lower than the boys at the end of the curriculum. Conceptually, the curriculum needs to specifically address how CS could impact values held by girls

Additional Information

Computers and Education Open, doi: 10.1016/j.caeo.2021.100057
Language: English
Date: 2021
Elementary education, Gender studies, Teaching/learning strategies

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