Public Discussion

  • Icon for: Sarah Wille

    Sarah Wille

    Presenter
    May 16, 2016 | 10:28 a.m.

    Thanks for viewing our video! Teachers, we’re particularly interested in hearing your perspectives on this first stage of our study, and how you support HS students with learning differences in STEM classrooms.

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    Marty Gartzman

    Guest
    May 17, 2016 | 11:25 a.m.

    Thanks for sharing the information about the project. It’s important work. Broadening participation to students with disabilities is often neglected.

  • Icon for: Pati Ruiz

    Pati Ruiz

    Facilitator
    May 17, 2016 | 11:40 a.m.

    As a high school CS teacher, I would appreciate seeing the results of your research! This partnership seems like a great way to think about broadening participation for all. What research are you grounding this work on? Are you looking at UDL?Also, has Wolcott done this for other AP courses? How are courses currently designed for Wolcott students? It sounds like there are many experts engaged in this conversation how are you documenting the process? How will you be sharing lessons? Will you share lessons as they are designed or only after they are tested?

  • Icon for: Sarah Wille

    Sarah Wille

    Presenter
    May 17, 2016 | 01:50 p.m.

    Good questions, Pati. Our study, which is in the very first year (we’re in the midst of piloting a few adjusted lessons), is exploratory – there is very little scholarly work focused on making high school CS education accessible to students with learning differences (that is, specific learning disabilities and attention deficit disorders), so we see our work as an initial step to generate an evidence base about the types of adjustments needed to make Computer Science Principles materials more accessible to this population of students.

    You mention UDL – our work incorporates elements of UDL, in that many of the adjustments to CSP lessons we’re writing and testing are focused on similar principles around how information is presented to all students; how students demonstrate what they know; and how students interact and engage with the material. On our team, we refer to these types of adjustments as “adaptations” for the whole class vs. individual accommodations for learners with specific needs. But the focus for us is specifically on the particular needs of students because of learning disabilities and attention deficit disorders, and the related underlying psychological processes.

    You can learn more about general Wolcott School curriculum and approaches here: http://www.wolcottschool.org/learning-strategie....

    We are fortunate to have a study team with a breadth of expertise and knowledge across research and practice, which is essential to complete this type of work. We’ll be presenting some initial, year 1 “pilot” findings at the Computer Science Teachers Association (CSTA) annual conference in July: https://csta.acm.org/ProfessionalDevelopment/su.... There’s also an American Educational Research Association (AERA) paper from the April 2016 conference that will be available via the AERA paper repository (once those papers are uploaded) with more information about how we’re systematically documenting our team’s process for work and collaboration thus far (http://www.aera.net/Publications/OnlinePaperRep...).

  • Icon for: Pati Ruiz

    Pati Ruiz

    Facilitator
    May 18, 2016 | 11:20 a.m.

    Thank you for this additional information. It is helpful to understand how your team is approaching adaptations both for the whole class and individuals. Thank you for the additional links – I will be following your work!

  • Icon for: Jenna Marks

    Jenna Marks

    Facilitator
    May 17, 2016 | 08:23 p.m.

    I firmly believe in the importance of partnering with practitioners whenever you develop technology or curriculum that is intended to be put into a classroom. What have you found most challenging about this endeavor? Additionally, do you find that techniques that help those with learning differences are NOT one-size-fits-all? Are there specific types of students that you’ve been or believe you might be more successful helping than others?

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    Amy Elliott

    Guest
    May 17, 2016 | 09:54 p.m.

    As a teacher of students with learning differences at Wolcott myself, I am excited to learn from the results of these trials so that I may incorporate new teaching techniques and strategies into my own classroom. Great work, team!

  • Icon for: Avron Barr

    Avron Barr

    Facilitator
    May 18, 2016 | 10:06 a.m.

    Important work and a wonderful video. Thanks Sarah and Amy. I’m interested in your answer to Jenna’s “one size fits all” question. Have you found any situations in which students who learn differently have an advantage in picking up some aspects of the CS curriculum.

  • Icon for: Sarah Wille

    Sarah Wille

    Presenter
    May 18, 2016 | 11:43 a.m.

    Thanks for the comments and questions! We also believe that researcher-practitioner partnerships and diverse areas of expertise are necessary for addressing educational, and specifically broadening participation challenges. No one of us is, or can be an expert in everything, so the interdisciplinary collaboration on our study team helps make our work stronger. As several of the team members describe in our video, learning how to communicate with each other (and give constructive feedback) has been a highly educative, but also time intensive process!

    We are just now collecting data for our initial step of this work (pilot period to test out a few adjusted lessons and data collection instruments) in preparation for next year, when we’ll test out a whole school year of adjusted CSP lessons. But to address the “one size fits all” question in our approach, an early step in our study was to acknowledge there is no single defining characteristic common to all students with even a specific learning disorder, or sub-disorder, i.e., the disorders vary and present in students in different ways, so there are also associated underlying psychological processes that we consider when writing and testing adjustments to our lessons.

    To address the question about students with learning differences in CS, when we overlook them in BP efforts, it means the computing field misses out on their creativity and talent. Because of their learning differences, these students can contribute new ways to view the world around us, and they have the potential to generate novel approaches to tackling complex problems not yet solved.

  • Icon for: Jennifer Knudsen

    Jennifer Knudsen

    Senior Mathematics Educator
    May 18, 2016 | 10:27 p.m.

    Love the research-practice study approach, and what an important need you are addressing! Great to have student voices in your video!

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    Zina. Berryhill

    Guest
    May 19, 2016 | 03:42 p.m.

    This is a truly wonderful plan. My son has a learning disabilities. We have tried EVERYTHING. WE ARE LOOKING FOR HELP. GOD BLESS AND KEEP YOU.

  • Icon for: Sarah Wille

    Sarah Wille

    Presenter
    May 19, 2016 | 06:24 p.m.

    Thanks for the great comments! The students are truly key members of our research team. Wolcott has a course called “Learning Strategies” where students consider their learning differences, their learning needs, and how to advocate for themselves as learners. This allows students to play dual roles in the study – first, as student participants, learning and practicing computational thinking skills, and second, as collaborators in the research, documenting and describing their experiences with the lessons through the lens of their Learning Strategies course training.

  • Further posting is closed as the showcase has ended.

  1. Sarah Wille
  2. Senior Education Researcher
  3. Opening the Door to Computer Science Principles for Students with Learning Differences
  4. Outlier Research & Evaluation at Univ of Chicago, Wolcott School
  1. Amy Cassata
  2. Senior Education Researcher
  3. Opening the Door to Computer Science Principles for Students with Learning Differences
  4. Outlier Research & Evaluation at Univ of Chicago, Wolcott School

The Hidden Underrepresented Group: Opening the Door to Computer Science for Students with Learning Differences
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The computer science education field is engaging in unprecedented efforts to expand opportunities in K-12 CS education. However, one underrepresented group is often overlooked: students with learning differences (that is, students with specific learning disabilities and related attention disorders, like ADHD). As computer science education initiatives grow, K-12 teachers need evidence-based guidance about how to account for challenges specific to learning and related attention disorders so that these students who learn differently can access instruction and curriculum in ways that address their learning needs. To address this problem, our interdisciplinary team of education researchers, expert practitioners, and students with learning differences is conducting an exploratory research study that aims to make computer science more accessible for students who learn differently. Over the next two years, the team is applying a rigorous research approach to: 1) identify teaching and learning challenges specific to learning differences in two sets of Computer Science Principles (CSP) instructional materials (Beauty and Joy of Computing and Code.org’s CS Principles); 2) propose adjustments to the instructional materials to address those challenges; and 3) test the adjusted materials with students who have learning differences at Wolcott School (a high school for students with learning differences).

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