Designing for, learning with, and teaching using computational modeling

Lipscomb, Kemper E.
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This dissertation is organized around three articles concerned with the design, learning, and teaching of computational modeling. They are designed as stand-alone articles but, when taken together, they ask questions of and respond to one another to provide a consideration of the ways computational modeling can be used in science classrooms. The first article is a systematic literature review conducted to determine key features of learning experiences that integrate computational models into science classes. This literature review provides a look at the landscape of the field of computational modeling in regard to designing and researching learning experiences that integrate computer science (CS) practices into science classrooms. The study explores the key features of the computational tools used in the integrated learning experiences (ILEs) as well as the ways they seem to influence students’ learning of modeling, computational thinking, and science content. The review found that teacher-led activities influence students’ learning as well as the features included in the computational tools. The review also found that there is a gap in the literature concerning how students relate to CS after engaging in an ILE. The second article investigated the ways that engaging in an ILE seemed to influence students’ CS identities using students’ written responses and video data. The study found that aspects of students’ CS identities seemed to be related to students’ performance of computational tasks, feelings of creative freedom while modeling, views on collaboration, and their mindsets about learning CS. The study also found that students did not seem to connect their experiences in the ILE to any other of their lived experiences outside of computer-related activities. The third article investigates the instructional decisions a teacher made while implementing the ILE. By comparing her implementation to the curriculum and conducting follow-up interviews, the characterized the many factors that interacted to influence the decisions a teacher made as she taught a practice that was new to her. The study found that although the teacher’s philosophies aligned with the curriculum, her more immediate goals influenced her instructional decisions.