Computational Thinking Unplugged: Comparing the Impact on Confidence and Competence from Analog and Digital Resources in Computer Science Professional Development for Elementary Teachers (2018)
Christopher Harris (Genesee Valley Ed. Partnership) St. John Fisher College
The demand for computer science instruction is increasing across the K-12 spectrum, but in many cases elementary teachers are ill prepared to teach the subject. Based on prior research showing a preference for analog interfaces, this study compared the impact of analog and digital interface modalities on teachers’ confidence and competence gains in professional development on computational thinking conceived within the framework of cognitive acceleration.
The analog group used the Robot Turtles board game and the digital group used the Scratch Jr. app on iPads while receiving the same professional development content. A single-case experimental design approach with a multiple-baseline approach to establish control and appropriate randomization techniques was used to allow for generalization of findings and identification of a functional relationship. Teachers were assessed using the Elementary Teacher Computer Programming Self-Efficacy Scale for confidence and the Computational Thinking Test for competence.
The results indicated a significant and higher effect size on confidence for the analog cases as compared to the digital. Visual analysis confirmed these findings and provided emerging support for a functional relationship. Recommendations for modifications to current professional development, classroom instruction, and policy making practices to adopt an analog-first approach to computer science based on the foundational concepts of computational thinking were identified based on these findings.
Development of the Leadership Capacity of School Librarians in New York State (2017)
Jennifer C. Cannell (Cap Region BOCES), Sage Graduate School
Readers of professional journals aimed at school librarians are led to believe that the role of a school librarian is that of a leader. Articles focus on change, innovation, collaboration, and empowerment of others while terms such as “instructional leader” and “technology leader” are scattered throughout. The literature emphasizes the role of school librarians as teacher leaders through their unique position within schools (Dotson & Jones, 2011; Johnston, 2013; Weisburg, 2016).
Leadership, with its multiple meanings, is somewhat ambiguous (Cosenza, 2015; Phillips, 2014). This study examined the leadership role of school librarians as well as the ways in which school librarians develop leadership capacity. Qualitative research methods were utilized and data was collected through interviews with 9 directors of school library systems and 9 school librarians from across New York State.
The findings from this study indicate that directors and librarians believe that school librarians are teacher leaders. Leadership capacity can be developed through a variety of opportunities, including professional development. This development is dependent on both internal and external factors that influence individuals. The beliefs and dispositions of school librarians impacts leadership growth. External conditions, such as support from administrators, also have a correlation in developing capacity. Directors of school library systems are actively working to create the opportunities for librarians to become teacher leaders through professional development, information sharing, and advocacy.
Several recommendations are offered from this study. The most substantial recommendation is creating a systematic, statewide approach to ensuring that all school librarians have multiple opportunities to grow as teacher leaders. In addition, directors of school library systems are encouraged to begin recognizing librarians as teacher leaders so that librarians have the provocation needed to begin seeing themselves as leaders. Participants of this study made it clear that outside recognition had much to do with the way individuals saw themselves.
Teaching the Voices of History Through Primary Sources and Historical Fiction: A Case Study of Teacher and Librarian Roles (2011)
Barbara Stripling (NYC SLS Retired), Syracuse University
The ability to analyze alternative points of view and to empathize (understand the beliefs, attitudes and actions of another from the other’s perspective rather than from one’s own) are essential building blocks for learning in the 21st century. Empathy for the human participants of historical times has been deemed by a number of educators as important for the development of historical understanding. The classroom teacher and the school librarian both have a prominent stake in creating educational experiences that foster the development of perspective, empathy, and understanding.
This case study was designed to investigate the idea that teaching with primary sources and historical novels during historical inquiry enhances students’ development of cognitive and emotive empathy. The study was framed around two research questions: How do classroom teachers and school librarians design and teach historical inquiry using historical novels and primary sources? What is the impact of teaching with historical novels and primary sources on the development of historical empathy?
The case study was conducted in an English/history humanities block and the school library in a New York City secondary school. Data were collected through classroom observations, interviews with the classroom teachers and librarian, and samples of student work. On the use of primary sources and historical novels, the study found that primary sources must be surrounded by context to be useful to students in their learning, that secondary sources were necessary for providing that context, and that historical fiction provides social context, but its use must be scaffolded to help students distinguish fiction from fact. In addition, the study found that unless library linkages to primary sources are embedded in classroom instruction, they are not used by students or teachers.
In answer to the second research question, the study found that primary sources have a strong impact on the development of historical empathy if their use is mediated by a teacher or librarian and that cognitive empathy must be developed before emotive empathy. Finally, this case study showed that a school librarian’s effectiveness is diminished by fulfilling a resource-provider role with no integration into classroom instruction.
Link to the open access version at Syracuse University: https://surface.syr.edu/it_etd/66/