Collaborative Research: CAFECS: Enhancing Culturally Responsive Teaching that Helps Students Build Connections Between Exploring Computer Science and their Lives

(Exploring Connections)

November 2020

Researchers


Steven McGee

The Learning Partnership

Lucia Dettori

DePaul University

Andrew Rasmussen

Chicago Public Schools

Kalena Cortes

Texas A&M University

The Learning Partnership, in collaboration with DePaul University and Chicago Public Schools (CPS) will address gaps in computer science (CS) course performance among Latinx students in Chicago Public Schools. CPS uses Exploring Computer Science (ECS), a computer science curriculum designed to facilitate inquiry and equity-based instructional practices, yet Latinx students underperform in CS relative to their peers. Research shows that a learning environment that emphasizes the connection between students’ lives and academic content is particularly important for Latinx students, and the PIs postulate that this could explain the gap in outcomes for Latinx students in CPS. The goal of this proposal is to adapt the Build Connections program, a new evidence-based strategy to help teachers and students connect course content to students’ lives, as a complement to the ECS curriculum framework. The results of this project will contribute to the literature on culturally responsive pedagogy and further our understanding of the unique professional development needs of urban school districts.

The Learning Partnership, in collaboration with DePaul University and Chicago Public Schools (CPS) seeks to address variations in Exploring Computer Science (ECS) course outcomes for Latinx students in Chicago Public Schools, including course performance and future course taking. Prior evidence from the CAFÉCS coaching program suggests that teachers are not fully adapting lessons to accommodate students’ backgrounds. Research shows that a learning environment that emphasizes the connection between students’ lives and academic content is particularly important for Latinx students, and the PIs conjecture that this might explain the gap in outcomes for Latinx students in CPS. The goal of this proposal is to adapt and implement the Build Connections program, an emerging evidence-based strategy that helps teachers and students connect course content to students’ lives, as a complement to the ECS curriculum framework. The integration of the Build Connections program will help support teachers in developing the kinds of culturally responsive lesson adaptations recommended by ECS. The project will provide online professional development, integrate support for the Build Connections program into ECS instructional coaching, and mentoring for the ECS coaches from an expert in improvement science. The results of this project will provide guidance to researchers on how to test their theories in practically relevant and meaningful ways, and the research will contribute to the literature on understanding the unique professional development needs of urban districts.

Citation

Collaborative Research: CAFECS: Enhancing Culturally Responsive Teaching that Helps Students Build Connections Between Exploring Computer Science and their Lives. National Science Foundation, Nov 2019 – Oct 2022, $$718,741. CNS-2031480, CNS-2031482,  CNS-2031481 PI Steven McGee (The Learning Partnership); Lucia Dettori (DePaul University); Andrew Rasmussen (Chicago Public Schools); Co-PI Kalena Cortes (Texas A&M University).