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A Computational Introduction To Stem Studies

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Collection

2010 Annual Conference & Exposition

Location

Louisville, Kentucky

Publication Date

June 20, 2010

Start Date

June 20, 2010

End Date

June 23, 2010

ISSN

2153-5965

Conference Session

Student Engagement in ECE

Tagged Division

Electrical and Computer

Page Count

22

Page Numbers

15.18.1 - 15.18.22

Permanent URL

https://peer.asee.org/16325

Download Count

30

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Paper Authors

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Eric Freudenthal University of Texas, El Paso

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Eric Freudenthal is an Assistant Professor of computer science at the University of Texas at El Paso.

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Rebeca Gonzalez Chapin High School

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Rebeca Gonzalez is a mechanical engineer working as a teacher of computer science, pre-engineering, and math at Chapin High School in El Paso, Texas.

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Sarah Hug University of Colorado

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Sarah Hug is an assessment and technology consultant. Dr. Hug also serves as the Graduate Admissions Coordinator for the Alliance for Technology, Learning, and Society at the University of Colorado in Boulder and a researcher for the National Center for Women and Information Technology. She also teaches in the Department of Educational Psychology at the University of Colorado-Boulder.

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Alexandria Ogrey University of Texas, El Paso

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Alexandria Ogrey is an undergraduate studying computer science at the University of Texas at El Paso.

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Mary Kay Roy University of Texas, El Paso

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Mary Kay Roy is an instructor of computer science at the University of Texas at El Paso

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Alan Siegel NYU

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Alan Siegel is on computer science faculty at NYU's Courant Institute of Mathematical Sciences.

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Abstract
NOTE: The first page of text has been automatically extracted and included below in lieu of an abstract

A Computational Introduction to STEM Studies

Abstract We report on the content and early evaluation of a new introductory programming course “Media Propelled Computational Thinking,” (abbreviated MPCT and pronounced iMPaCT). MPCT is integrated into a freshman-level entering students program that aims at retaining students by responding to the academic recruitment and attrition challenges of computer science and other STEM disciplines.This course is intended to provide meaningful experiences of relevance to students choosing majors that also fortifies their qualitative understandings of foundational math and physics concepts. MPCT‟s activities are designed to provide analytical challenges typical of STEM professions and to motivate additional inquiry. Preliminary evaluation results are encouraging – students from a wide range of academic majors find MPCT engaging and report that the analytical tasks were effective at conveying insight and decreasing anxiety towards foundational mathematical concepts. This paper extends prior reports on MPCT with evaluation results indicating that more than half of attendees indicated increased confidence in the understanding and application of quantitative analysis tasks and detected differences in that nature of students‟ engagement with math in MPCT and traditional math courses. In addition, this report includes an overview of an emerging effort to investigate the integration of MPCT into secondary school curricula. Introduction MPCT is integrated into an Entering Students Program (ESP) [4] attended by entering freshmen at the University of Texas at El Paso, a primarily Hispanic-Serving Institution (HSI) serving an economically disadvantaged bi-national urban area on the US-Mexico border. The objective of the entering students program is to assist students in developing skills necessary for academic success in college and to assist in career selection. MPCT, which is allocated approximately half of the course‟s instructional time, provides technical content to complement the entering students program‟s curriculum that reviews study, note-taking, presentation, and writing skills, and career guidance. Introductory courses for technical disciplines such as computer science can offer a limited curriculum representing a discipline‟s activities. Activities and projects of introductory computing curriculum designed to attract students generally focus on the dramatic outcomes of tasks whose programming challenges are frequently more clerical than analytical. Consider the voluminous specification required to generate the detailed choreography of a robotic dance (without regards for physics). While the graphical outcomes of these projects are impressive, and the specification of these moves may provide may provide useful practice of coding skills, we have concern that the technical tasks have little similarity with analytically intense academic coursework typical of computer science and other STEM disciplines. We have encountered students who enjoy analytical work and enjoyed a high-school program based on Alice who ultimately chose to study non-computational disciplines because they found the detail-work associated with the dramatic projects mundane. MPCT‟s design reflects an understanding that effective career selection includes a matching both of practitioners‟ natural inclinations (proclivities) and aptitudes with the principal activities required for a profession. MPCT‟s activities are designed to provide analytical challenges typical of STEM professions and to motivate additional inquiry. MPCT‟s design is substantially motivated by observations that students‟ perceptions of and deficiencies in mathematics both contribute substantially to avoidance of and attrition from study of computer science and other STEM disciplines. MPCT exploits programmed systems‟ facility at manipulating computation to

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