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Broadening the Middle School Computational Thinking Interventions Beyond Block Programming

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2021 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access


Virtual Conference

Publication Date

July 26, 2021

Start Date

July 26, 2021

End Date

July 19, 2022

Conference Session

Computing and Information Technology Division Technical Session 5

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Computing and Information Technology

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Paper Authors


Mohsen M. Dorodchi University of North Carolina at Charlotte

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Dr. Dorodchi has been teaching in the field of computing for over 30 years of which 20 years as an educator. He has taught the majority of the courses in the computer science and engineering curriculum over the past 20 years such as introductory programming, data structures, databases, software engineering, system programming, etc. He has been involved in a number of National Science Foundation supported grant projects including Scholarship for STEM students (S-STEM), Researcher Practitioner Partnership (RPP), IUSE, and EAGER.

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Alexandria Benedict University of North Carolina at Charlotte

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Alexandria Benedict is a graduate student at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte pursuing her Master's in Computer Science. She is a research assistant under the RPP STEM Ecosystem Project which helps study the effects of computational thinking inside classrooms.

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Audrey Rorrer


David K. Pugalee University of North Carolina at Charlotte

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Dr. David Pugalee is a full professor, and Director of the Center for Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics Education (STEM) at UNC Charlotte. The recipient of millions of dollars in grant-funding, Dr. Pugalee has also published works on STEM teaching and learning including recent books Lesson Imaging in Math and Science and Effective Content Reading Strategies to Support Scientific and Mathematical Literacy. Dr. Pugalee has also worked with multiple STEM education projects including the current IES project 5E Model Professional Development in Science Education for Special Educators and the NSF Project, Developing a Systemic, Scalable Model to Broaden Participation in Middle School Computer Science which focuses on computational thinking in science and mathematics.

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Lijuan Cao University of North Carolina Charlotte

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The contributions of this research paper are as follows: 1) it builds on prior work done in transitioning teaching and learning of program-ming and computational thinking from block-based programming to text-based programming languages, and 2) it infuses this model of programming to teach computational thinking (CT) in middle school curriculum and studies the impact of the professional development (PD) on teachers. Our proposed curricular approach is based on the request from our partner middle school teachers in exposing students to Python. Through the existing researcher-practitioner partnerships (RPPs), we have been providing CT professional development for the teachers based on block programming. Furthermore, we developed and presented the new materials in two online PD's as a short and a more detailed one in Spring and Summer of 2020 to help the teachers with planning for the 20-21 school year. Moreover, we studied how such PD would impact the teachers.Our prior study of the middle school ecosystem revealed that teachers’ needs should always be the focal point of PD's, as there are many unmet needs for CS/CT in K-12. Our first challenge was to provide a holistic view of programming in Python while reassuring the teachers that they are able to learn the language and teach it to their students. Furthermore, integrating CT into school curriculum poses new challenges regarding the changes. We find that the available and existing resources for transitioning from block programming to Python require further insightful reconfiguration and modification to fit the middle school curriculum

Dorodchi, M. M., & Benedict, A., & Rorrer, A., & Pugalee, D. K., & Cao, L. (2021, July), Broadening the Middle School Computational Thinking Interventions Beyond Block Programming Paper presented at 2021 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access, Virtual Conference. 10.18260/1-2--36757

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