Project CS4EDU: Computer Science for Education
Faculty in the Department of Computer Science and the College of Education at Purdue University have been awarded a three-year, $800,000 grant from the National Science Foundation to develop a new Computer Science Teaching Endorsement program. Project CS4EDU will create pathways for undergraduate teacher education majors to become computationally educated secondary teachers. The program will be based on the standards for Secondary Computer Science Education set by the International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE).
Computer scientists and computationally educated students are vital to building a globally competitive workforce for the 21st century. Unfortunately, the number of students entering computer science as undergraduates has declined in recent years. Only 15,000 high school students take the Computer Science Advanced placement (CS AP) exam annually and nationally there are only 2000 teachers qualified to teach the Computer Science AP course. Interest in the field is declining even though career opportunities in CS continue to grow. In 2008, the National Science Foundation started the ambitious effort, project CS/10,000, which supports developing a new high school curriculum for computing, revising the computer science AP curriculum, and having computer science taught in 10,000 schools by 10,000 well-qualified teachers by 2015. Susanne Hambrusch, Professor of Computer Science and project PI, says “Project CS4EDU will develop crucial curriculum components needed to train future CS teachers and to meet this visionary NSF goal. The project combines the strength of Purdue’s education programs with the CS department’s ongoing efforts to improve how we teach introductory computing courses.”
The CS endorsement developed as part of Project CS4EDU will build on existing courses and the teacher education programs in the Department of Computer Science and the College of Education. Maryann Santos de Barona, Dean of the College of Education, says “At Purdue, we pride ourselves on secondary teacher preparation programs that feature both strong content preparation and strong pedagogical preparation. The CS4EDU project will bring these features to the preparation of computer science teachers.” The pathways to the endorsement program are targeted at diverse student groups: all teacher education majors will take course modules focused on computational thinking, science education majors will be able to fulfill general College of Science course requirements while taking courses towards the endorsement, and students switching from a STEM discipline to teacher education will be able to build on their background. Kristen Fox, a math education and computer science major, says: "I plan to pursue a career combining my math education and CS background. For me, incorporating CS concepts into lesson plans and teaching activities is an exciting approach." The focus of the CS Teaching Endorsement is on computer science as a creative discipline enabling new fields and discoveries, and it includes programming as a fundamental tool of the field.
Modules on computational thinking will be integrated into existing education courses and will highlight the pervasiveness of computational metaphors in topics like reasoning, knowledge construction, and problem solving. Two new courses will be developed: a CS Methods course with an associated teaching practicum in computer science and a course in Great Issues in Computer Science. The CS Methods course will provide students with pedagogical and content knowledge experiences preparing them to effectively teach computer science and to think like a computer scientist. It includes practical training opportunities in introductory computer science courses as well as student teaching in a high school. Aman Yadav, Assistant Professor of Educational Psychology and co-PI on the project says, “The methods course will not only provide our pre-service teachers with the content expertise in computer science, but also how to teach those computer science concepts and create a classroom environment conducive to learning those concepts.” The Great Issues course will challenge students to critically evaluate the rapid social changes technology induces and how computing and the Internet have transformed society, law, and social interactions.
In November 2009, Project CS4EDU will, with supplemental funding and support from State Farm, organize a workshop for computer science high school teachers. A workshop bringing together educators and computer scientists with a focus on incorporating computation into secondary teacher education and exploring the establishment of computer science licensure standards is planned for 2010.
Project participants from the Computer Science Department include Susanne Hambrusch (Project PI), Christoph Hoffmann, and Tim Korb, and from the College of Education, James Lehman (Curriculum & Instruction), A. G. Rud, and Aman Yadav (both from Educational Studies). Assessment and evaluation will be carried out by Courtney Brown from the Center for Evaluation and Education Policy at Indiana University. More information about Project CS4EDU can be found at http://cs4edu.cs.purdue.edu/.