Computer Science in Mathematics Preservice Teacher Education

Computer Science in Mathematics Preservice Teacher Education

Patrick Wachira (Cleveland State University, USA) and Xiongyi Liu (Cleveland State University, USA)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-7998-1479-5.ch014

Abstract

In recent years, significant resources have been invested in increasing access and opportunities to computer science (CS) for elementary school students in the US. However even with the increased advancements and initiatives to embed CS into the elementary school curriculum, little has been done to examine the curriculum and pedagogical implications for mathematics preservice teacher education. For these initiatives to be successful, there is a need to train preservice teachers to integrate CS concepts into their teaching. This chapter reports on a research project that investigated the use of a visual programming language on pre-service teachers' understanding of basic computer science ideas and how these can be integrated into the teaching of mathematics. The purpose of the project was to help preservice teachers develop a basic knowledge of computer science concepts and to help develop subject-specific understanding of how to integrate these concepts.
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Introduction

States are beginning to prioritize computer science education with statewide standards and initiatives to increase computer science exposure in schools (Harmon, 2018). For instance, school districts such as Los Angeles Unified, Chicago, and New York City have committed to the mission of every child learning computer science every year in their schools (Krauss & Prottsman, 2017). According to Code.org (2019), as of 2018, 22 States had K-12 computer science (CS) and 33 states had teachers’ certifications. Internationally countries like the United Kingdom, recognizing the importance of computational thinking, have mandated the introduction of a coding curriculum for all K-12 students in England.

The believe that computer science is a necessary 21st century skill has led to a number of initiatives to integrate CS concepts in elementary and secondary schools. A significant amount of time and resources have been invested in increasing access and opportunities to computer science for students in elementary and secondary school in the US as well as other developed countries. These initiatives have ranged from exposure to computational thinking (CT) through hour of code type activities to computer science courses such as the Advanced Placement (AP) computer science principles course (Yadav, Gretter, Good & McLean, 2017). This increased interest in CS has been as a result of the availability of visual programming languages such as Scratch (Burke, 2012) and Alice (Graczyn´ska, 2010), that are more user-friendly as opposed to the use of traditional programming languages in which both students and teachers have to use complex programming syntax. In these visual languages students simply need to drag and snap the command blocks instead of having to worry about the mechanics of writing the programs. With the visual languages, the learners are able to more easily acquire computer science skills and in the process helping them strengthen their problem-solving skills.

This study aimed to introduce preservice teachers to computational thinking and computer science ideas using a visual programming language and investigate how these can be integrated into the teaching of mathematics.

Key Terms in this Chapter

Preservice Teachers: Also known as teacher candidates refers to students who are enrolled in a teacher education program working toward teacher certification.

Teacher Education: Refers to a program of training designed to equip prospective and practicing teachers with the knowledge, skills and dispositions they will require to effectively teach from elementary to higher education levels.

Computational Thinking: Thinking algorithmically by using principles from computer science.

Computer Science: A branch of science that deals with the study of computation, computer technology, hardware, and software.

Mathematics: Mathematics is a science. It constitutes study of numbers, quantity and space. It includes other topics such as measurement, geometry, probability and statistics.

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