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SUMMARY The influence of computing on society is pervasive and profound. Computing in some form touches nearly every aspect of day to day life and is reflected in the ubiquitous use of cell phones, the expansion of automation into many industries, and the vast amounts of data that are routinely gathered about peopleâs health, education, and buying habits. Computing is now a part of nearly every occupation, not only those in the technology industry. Given the ubiquity of computing in both personal and professional life, there are increasing calls for all learners to participate in learning experiences related to computing including more formal experiences offered in schools, opportunities in youth development programs and after-school clubs, or self- initiated hands-on experiences at home. At the same time, the lack of diversity in the computing workforce and in programs that engage learners in computing is well-documented. Given the pressure to expand access to, and engagement in, learning experiences related to computing, it is important to consider how to increase access and design experiences for a wide range of learners. Authentic experiences in STEMâthat is, experiences that reflect professional practice and also connect learners to real-world problems that they care aboutâare one possible approach for reaching a broader range of learners. These experiences can be designed for learners of all ages and implemented in a wide range of settings. However, the role they play in developing youthsâ interests, capacities, and productive learning identities for computing is unclear. In response to the need to better understand the role of authentic STEM experiences in supporting the development of interests, competencies, and skills related to computing, the Board on Science Education (BOSE) of the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine, in collaboration with the Computer Science and Telecommunication Board (CSTB) convened an expert committee to examine the relevant evidence. In particular, the committee was asked to focus on the evidence on learning and teaching using authentic, open-ended pedagogical approaches and learning experiences for children and youth in grades Kâ12 in both formal and informal settings. The committee was asked to give particular attention to approaches and experiences that promote the success of children and youth from groups that are typically underrepresented in computing fields.1 The committee recognizes that computing is more than just coding or computer science. Rather, computing refers to a broad range of fields, including the disciplinary field of computer science, that utilize computational methods. This broad framing means that the outcomes of interest go beyond a narrow focus on coding to include a larger set of foundational knowledge and competencies. Authentic learning experiences for computing may include recreational pursuits such as playing video games or engaging with on-line creative communities as well as more structured activities in out-of-school learning institutions (e.g., community-based programs, museums, and public libraries) and in classroom settings. Long-term interest, skills, and participation in computing are influenced by a wide range of experiences at home, school, online, and in the local community as well as by individual factors. The social interactions that take place and the relationships that develop in the context of these activities can be an important driver for engagement and continued participation for learners. Authentic learning experiences in computing that are designed to closely mirror professional practiceâprofessional authenticityâmay engage some learners. However, 1 The full statement of task appears in Box 1-1 in Chapter 1. Prepublication Copy, Uncorrected Proofs S-1
historical inequities in computing, biases and stereotypes may also make these kinds of experiences unattractive to learners from communities that have typically been excluded from computing. Learning experiences in computing that are designed with attention to learnersâ interests, identities, and backgroundâpersonal authenticityâmay attract and retain more learners from underrepresented groups in computing because of their gender, race, ethnicity, or perceived ability than learning experiences that focus solely on professional practice. These aspects of authenticity do not need to be in opposition and a given experience can be designed with attention to both. Authentic learning experiences in computing can occur in a wide range of settings, including classrooms, community organizations, and homes as well as online. Each setting brings constraints as well as affordances with respect to the potential to provide experiences that combine both personal and professional authenticity. Many learners will need multiple experiences with computing to develop enduring interest in and competencies for computing. These experiences will likely need to include both in school and out of school opportunities. While the evidence based on experiences for computing is still emerging, the committee was also able to leverage the larger body of research on authentic experiences in other STEM fields. Taken together, this body of research points to the importance of careful design of authentic experiences so that they are appropriate for the context in which they are implemented, are targeted at a defined set of outcomes, and account for learnersâ prior interests and experiences in their homes and communities. The report takes up issues of design and institutional/organizational infrastructure to highlight the particular contexts that may best support the development of learnersâ interest and competencies for computing. It provides guidance for educators and facilitators, program designers, and other key stakeholders on how to support learners as they engage in authentic learning experiences. RECOMMENDATIONS The committeeâs recommendations are outlined below. The committee also developed a research agenda for the field. RECOMMENDATION 1: Program designers should be intentional in the design and implementation of programs offering authentic learning experiences that build interest and competencies for computing. This includes: ï· having clear and explicit programmatic goals and continuous refinement of the program to ensure alignment to those goals; ï· designing for personal authenticity that builds on learnersâ interests, identities, and backgrounds while also designing for professional authenticity; ï· ensuring that the participants include people are from underrepresented groups in computing because of their gender race, ethnicity, or perceived ability; ï· considering inclusion of families and community members as well as learners in opportunities to co-create; ï· ensuring educators and facilitators have adequate preparation and access to necessary materials and resources; and ï· reflecting on whether the communication, outreach, and operation of the program is Prepublication Copy, Uncorrected Proofs S-2
inviting for learners who are from underrepresented groups in computing because of their gender, race, ethnicity, or perceived ability. RECOMMENDATION 2: Practicing teachers in schools and facilitators in out-of-school time settings should seek out opportunities and materials on how to incorporate effective practices for creating authentic learning experiences in computing within an existing program that includes utilizing problem-/project-based learning strategies, allowing learner choice among activities, and considering learnersâ contexts outside of school time. RECOMMENDATION 3: Preservice and in-service teacher educators and trainers of out- of-school time facilitators should ensure that educators and facilitators are equipped to engage learners in personally authentic learning experiences in computing. This includes providing ongoing opportunities for educators to learn and practice using inclusive pedagogical approaches, as well as having access to materials and resources that build on learnersâ interests, identities, and backgrounds. RECOMMENDATION 4: School leaders should consider a variety of ways to provide access to authentic learning experiences for computing. These include (1) addressing challenges (e.g., lack of instructional time and teacher expertise) associated with integrating authentic computing experiences into instruction in a variety of subjects, (2) increasing access to stand-alone computing courses, and (3) ensuring schools have adequate resources such as equipment, reliable broadband Internet, and time. RECOMMENDATION 5: Program providers in out-of-school settings should increase efforts to expand access to authentic learning experiences for computing through growth of opportunities and active program promotion within underserved communities and in rural areas. This includes considering ways to reduce barriers to participation such as time, cost, and transportation. It also includes offering programs multiple times or during the evening and weekends, reducing program costs or offering financial assistance, and subsidizing transportation. RECOMMENDATION 6: Program evaluators should develop and apply robust models of evaluation that take into account the distinctive features of authentic learning experiences in computing. More specifically, this includes attending to personal and professional authenticity, considering connections across settings, and to the extent possible, disaggregating findings and examining differences between and within groups (e.g., gender, race, ethnicity, socio-economic status, etc.) for computing outcomes as a central part of model building and evaluation. RECOMMENDATION 7: There should be a broad-based effort to cultivate a network of opportunities, as well as supports for learners to navigate between them, both in and out- of-school to increase access and opportunities for sustained engagement with computing. To achieve this: ï· funders should support initiatives that make connections across settingsâboth formal and out-of-school settings including home and onlineâand between industry Prepublication Copy, Uncorrected Proofs S-3
and educational efforts for authentic learning experiences in computing; ï· designers and educators across formal and out-of-school settings should consider tailoring to the community context, learnersâ backgrounds and experiences, and attending to cultural relevance; ï· local STEM institutions, schools, and out-of-school providers should develop partnerships that allow them to develop complementary programs that fill in gaps and connect learners to other opportunities within the network; and ï· stakeholders in the network should be sure that they are providing opportunities in communities of underrepresented learners. Prepublication Copy, Uncorrected Proofs S-4