Computer Science for Educators and Students
AIR has built a strong portfolio of computer science (CS) projects through our CS@AIR initiative. We support more than a dozen projects—all with a focus on ensuring that every student gets access to a high-quality computer science education. Explore our work in the following areas:
- Virtual communities
- Researcher-practitioner partnerships
- U.S. Department of Education-funded research and development
- CS for All Teachers. Funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF), CS for All Teachers is a free, virtual community of practice, welcoming all teachers from PreK through high school who are interested in teaching computer science. CS for All Teachers provides a virtual home for more than 7,500 teachers to connect with one another and with the resources they need to successfully teach computer science in their classrooms. AIR manages this community.
- Boot Up Wyoming: Developing Computer Science Micro-credentials for Teachers and Students. Through the U.S. Department of Education’s Perkins Innovation & Modernization grants, the Wyoming Department of Education is developing a cluster of computer science-focused micro-credentials for high school teachers (and eventually students). With these micro-credentials, the state hopes to create an alternative pathway to computer science teaching endorsement that increases teachers’ self-efficacy, content knowledge, and pedagogical content knowledge. AIR is an external consultant to the project, drawing from prior work in micro-credentials and experience with Wyoming-focused work.
- CS for All Teachers Teacher Leadership Micro-credentials. CS for All Teachers is developing a stack of micro-credentials for computer science teachers interested in strengthening or formalizing their teacher leadership knowledge and skills. These micro-credentials are unique in that they define teacher leadership within the context of computer science, providing a targeted professional learning and development pathway for teachers interested in growing professionally or taking on new leadership responsibilities. These micro-credentials offer teachers an opportunity to earn Professional Learning Units for leadership or personal development activities for which they are not currently being recognized.
Researcher-practitioner partnerships are an emerging approach to professional development in which researchers and educators work as equal partners on complex and persistent problems of practice.
- Computational Thinking for Educators (CT4EDU). CT4EDU is a NSF-funded project to design, implement, and assess high-quality, integrated curriculum and professional development that support elementary school teachers in embedding computational thinking into their classrooms. A partnership among Michigan State University, Oakland Schools (Michigan), and AIR, this four-year project identifies problems of practice and points of opportunity in curriculum and teaching practices where computational thinking can intersect with science and mathematics. AIR is the external evaluator.
- Exploring Computer Science Fellows 2.0. This NSF-funded project builds on a partnership among Teach For America; Exploring Computer Science, a culturally responsive professional development program and curriculum for teachers; and AIR to support high school teachers of color in teaching computer science. This three-year project focuses on understanding how to recruit teachers of color, supporting them in navigating obstacles to broadening participation and advocating for computer science instruction in their schools, and helping them create equitable computer science learning environments. AIR is the external evaluator.
- Supporting Computing Access, Leadership, and Equity in California (SCALE-CA). This four-year project aims to ensure equitable, scalable, and sustainable implementation of computer science education across California. SCALE-CA focuses on interlocking systemwide interventions at the classroom, district, and state levels: classroom-level professional development for teachers; district/county-level capacity-building for school, district, and local education agency leaders; and state-level activities that inform policymakers. For this NSF-funded project, AIR is a subcontractor and partner to UCLA and works with 10 California districts and county offices of education.
- Wyoming Elementary NIC (Networked Improvement Community). AIR is collaborating with the Wyoming Department of Education, three Native American-serving Wyoming school districts, and BootUp Professional Development, Inc., to write, pilot, and refine two curriculum units that integrate computer science education standards with Indian for All Education social studies standards. Through this NSF-funded project, teachers will increase their self-efficacy and pedagogical and content knowledge for teaching the standards and integrating the curriculum with other subjects. This curriculum will produce student mastery of the computer science standards for grades 3–5, as evidenced by high-quality work samples. The study will form a NIC in three Wyoming districts that serve almost 100% Native American students on the Wind River Reservation, which houses the Eastern Shoshone and Northern Arapaho tribes.
- Southern Oregon University Elementary NIC. Funded by NSF, this partnership with Southern Oregon University and Ashland and Talent-Phoenix school districts aims to improve computational thinking in elementary school classrooms and access to this instruction for Hispanic students. The project provides professional development and support for elementary school teachers to integrate computational thinking across subjects and in bilingual classrooms. AIR is the external evaluator and technical assistance partner for this two-year project.
- Preparing Urban Milwaukee for Pathways in Computer Science (PUMP-CS). Milwaukee Public Schools, Marquette University, the Learning Partnership, and AIR are collaborating on this project. With support from NSF, the project is applying a systems change framework to understand the conditions that perpetuate K-12 computer science inequities in the district; examining outcomes associated with PUMP-CS professional development and supports; and disseminating which specific strategies reduce inequitable computer science practices in a large urban district. AIR oversees the systems change research and the evaluation.
U.S. Department of Education-funded Research and Evaluation
- UTeachCS Supporting Effective Educator Development (SEED) grant: AIR is working with UTeach at the University of Texas at Austin to design and implement a cluster randomized control trials study to evaluate the impact of UTeach Computer Science Principles Advanced Placement (AP) professional development and ongoing supports on teacher instructional practice and student academic and nonacademic performance. The goal of this project is to increase the numbers of highly qualified STEM teachers in high-needs schools by strategically expanding UTeach preparation pathways and the numbers of teachers who can broaden participation of underrepresented students in high-needs schools through evidence-based professional development of in-service teachers.
- Lone Star Education Innovation and Research (EIR) grant: AIR is designing and implementing an evaluation of a three-year program to enhance student access to and success in the AP Computer Science Principles course. The program, a project of the National Math and Science Initiative, primarily provides professional development for teachers of this course and supports for their students and schools. The evaluation includes studies of impact and of implementation.
- IDEA Public Schools (IDEA) EIR grant: AIR is partnering with IDEA Public Schools to conduct a rigorous evaluation of its Mathways to STEM Success initiative. The evaluation will provide IDEA with timely and actionable formative feedback essential for monitoring and improving program implementation. The evaluation will conduct separate analyses of the effectiveness of each component of the initiative: the AP computer science support program, mathematics curriculum redesign, and Work-Study High School.
- Code.org EIR grant: AIR is conducting a quasi-experimental evaluation of Code.org’s Equity in AP Computer Science program. The five-year program aims to improve enrollment and outcomes in AP Computer Science for high school students who are historically underrepresented in the field, including women, minorities, and rural populations. AIR is using qualitative and quantitative methods to evaluate the outcomes of Code.org’s equity-focused outreach, recruitment, and blended learning programs for school administrators, counselors, and computer science teachers.
- The Pack EIR grant: AIR is testing the implementation and impact of The Pack program in 54 Title 1 schools in New York City using a randomized control trial. The Pack intervention, developed by New York Hall of Science, comprises an open-world digital game, a supplemental computational thinking curriculum for integration into 6th–8th grade science courses, professional development activities, and online communities of practice. The digital app supports students’ discovery of core computational thinking skills, including problem decomposition, algorithmic naming and sequencing, debugging, parallel programming, and design pattern identification.