An exciting part of working at Michigan State University in my graduate research lab has been the work that I have been doing with Emily Bouck and Aman Yadav with pre-service teachers to explore pathways for teaching computer science and computational thinking ideas in the context of special education mathematics. When we talk about marginalized groups in computer science, students with disabilities are often overlooked. This work is the first step towards helping address this gap and push for more visibility for these students with regards to high quality computer science education.
In brief, we spent multiple class sessions of a pre-service preparation course discussing potential pathways for engaging students with computer science and computational thinking concepts in the context of mathematics. We then asked students to design lesson plans incorporating both of these ideas together and exploring ways in which CS and CT could help teach the mathematics more effectively for students with disabilities. The pre-service teachers had placements in local schools, and they designed these lessons with specific students and classroom settings in mind. In analyzing this work, our research team found that students could see positive opportunities for enhancing their lessons using the computing ideas and generated lessons that effectively combined content in math and computational thinking. As one might expect, we also noted that their work was in an early stage of development and that teachers need more exposure to CS and CT ideas in order to become more adept at engaging students with disabilities in their classrooms.
You can read more about our work in the journal, Teacher Education and Special Education at the link below.
Bouck, E.C., Sands, P., Long, H., & Yadav, A. (2021). Preparing Special Education Preservice Teachers to Teach Computational Thinking and Computer Science. Teacher Education and Special Education. [Advanced Online Publication]. doi: 10.1177/0888406421992376