Emerging Promising Practices for CS Integration

Our recently accepted paper, Emerging Practices for Integrating Computer Science into Existing K-5 Subjects in the United States, will be presented at WIPSCE 2023 in Cambridge, England. 

This particular qualitative work, conducted by Monica McGill, Laycee Thigpen, and Alaina Mabie of CSEdResearch.org, included interviews with researchers and curriculum designers (n=9) who have engaged deeply in K-5 CS integration for several years. Their perspectives were analyzed and synthesized to inform our results.

Several promising practices emerged for designing curriculum, creating assessments, and preparing teachers to teach in a co-curricular manner. These include ways for teachers to vary instruction, integrating into core (and oft tested) language arts and mathematics, and simplifying assessments. Many of the findings are borne from the need to help new teachers become comfortable teaching a new subject integrated into their other subjects.

Generally, promising practices that emerged included adopting Universal Design for Learning practices, include ways for teachers to take the curriculum and vary instruction to fit their comfort levels as they learn to teach integrated CS, and co-design lessons with teachers. They also suggest capitalizing on integrating into language arts since it is a highly-tested and critical subject for learning.

Figure 1. General findings.

For more specific findings, the experts suggested integrating focusing on fractions for math, leveraging cause and effect in science to teach conditional logic, and reflecting upon how language is similarly used in English and in computing.

Subject Integration Findings across ELA, Math, Science, and Social Studies. For ELA, 1) use games and other tools and 2) reflect upon how language is used in English and in computing. For Math, go heavy on computational thinking, use virtual manipulatives, focus on fractions, and enhance learning with other tools. For science, leverage cause and effect in science with conditional logic. For social studies, incorporate cultural holidays into CS.

Figure 2. Subject specific findings.

You can read the full paper (including our methodology and profiles of our experts) here.

Monica M. McGill, Laycee Thigpen, and Alaina Mabie. 2023. Emerging Practices for Integrating Computer Science into Existing K-5 Subjects in the United States. In The 18th WiPSCE Conference on Primary and Secondary Computing Education Research (WiPSCE ’23), September 27–29, 2023, Cambridge, United Kingdom. ACM, New York, NY, USA, 10 pages. https://doi.org/10.1145/3605468.3609759 (effective after September 27th, 2023).

This material is based upon work supported by Code.org. Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of Code.org.

We acknowledge and thank Brenda Huerta for her assistance with the literature review.

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