Daniel P. Weller: Teachers’ Intended Learning Outcomes and Students’ Attitudes around Computation in High School Physics
In response to the growing emphasis on computational thinking in K-12 education standards and modern science professions, our research team designed a year-long professional development series for high school physics teachers to learn how to program and utilize computer simulations in their curricula.
The series consisted of a five-day summer workshop and several one-day meetings throughout the year where participants improved their computing capabilities, discussed pedagogy, and analyzed equity patterns in their classrooms. We conducted semi-structured interviews with the high school teachers to explore their intended learning outcomes around computation.
By investigating learning outcomes, we can evaluate the professional development series' effectiveness at helping participants prepare activities aligned with their specific aims. Moreover, we have begun the development of a survey which assesses the attitudes of students exposed to computational content.
A pilot questionnaire was administered, and the variation in student responses was analyzed to identify prevalent themes. These themes lay the foundation for a validated survey that characterizes students' opinions, expectations, and attitudes toward computation.
Overall, this research informs the augmentation of professional development workshops for upcoming years, documents teachers' intended learning outcomes, and provides a method for measuring student gains when integrating computation into K-12 education spaces.