Sullivan, Earnest, Randall and Thota Receive NSF Grant for Equitable Assessment Research

UMass Amherst College of Education faculty, Florence Sullivan (PI), Darrell Earnest and Jennifer Randall, in collaboration with College of Information and Computer Sciences (CICS) faculty member, Neena Thota, have received a three-year, $500,000 grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF) for their research project, “Computational Thinking (CT) Funds of Knowledge: Research and Development of a Culturally Sustaining Assessment Tool (CSAT) for CT in the Early Grades.”

NEWS Florence Sullivan
Florence Sullivan

This research project will take place in the Springfield Public School (SPS) system as part of an ongoing “CSforAll” research practice partnership between SPS, the College of Education and CICS, focused on the integration of computer science curriculum into the regular curriculum at the elementary level.

The grant funds 12 SPS teacher participants who will conduct family and community interviews with 24 Black and Latinx SPS families. Interviews will be analyzed to reveal aspects of computational thinking that are embedded in the activities of daily living of these SPS families.

“CSAT for CT foregrounds the rich resources of Springfield families as starting places for curriculum development and student learning,” says Sullivan, “In this way, our work addresses issues of diversity and inclusion towards greater equity in computer science education.”

Based on the results of the interview analysis, culturally sustaining assessment tools for CT will be developed by the research team and CICS graduate students. The assessment tools will be member-checked by family participants for cultural congruence. CSAT for CT will feature puzzle-like tasks for children to work with; teachers will engage in clinical interview-based conversations with students as they interact with the CT tasks.

“It’s wonderful to have this close collaboration among College of Education and CICS faculty,” notes Sullivan, “together we can make a real difference in the teaching of computer science in the elementary grades.”