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Collaborative Research: Using Culturally Sustaining STEM+C Learning Environments to Explore Computational Learning & Identity

Supported by the National Science Foundation - Program: Research on Learning in Formal and Informal Settings (DRL)

Project led by:

Christopher Wright, PhD
Ayana Allen-Handy, PhD

This research project aims to create and understand a model learning environment for middle school youth that integrates computational making practices, interdisciplinary STEM learning, and cultural and expressive practices from hip-hop. Implementation will take place across three community-facing organizations that serve youth from communities of color in Gary, Indiana; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; and Cambridge, Massachusetts. This work seeks to engage youth from groups underrepresented in STEM and computing by producing a model learning environment that emphasizes the ubiquity of computing and computational making practices that already exist in the lives of young people and expands youth’s practices and skills in those areas. We simultaneously recognize youth’s multiple socio-ecological resources for learning and identity building in ways that do not silo disciplinary and everyday learning.

The project will produce three main outcomes:

  • Design principles and research findings for culturally sustaining pedagogies in computer science and STEM
  • Out-of-school time learning in computational making practices
  • Assessments that align with culturally sustaining learning environments in computational making. Research questions focus on what elements of the model contribute to youth learning, in regards to computational making practices, physics, mathematics, hip-hop, and the ways in which they develop identities as STEM and CS learners and doers.

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