A cross-institutional investigation of a flipped module on preservice teachers’ interest in teaching computational thinking

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Published: 
January 2020

Source: Journal of Digital Learning in Teacher Education, 36:1, 32-45

(Reviewed by the Portal Team)

In this study, the authors examined the impact of specialization areas, gender, and in-class practices that preservice teachers (PSTs) had on their interest in teaching CT.
Specifically, they were interested in the following research questions:
1. What is the influence of PSTs’ majors and specialization areas on their interest in CT?
2. What is the influence of gender difference on PSTs’ interest in CT?
3. What is the influence of different in-class practices on PSTs’ interest in CT?
The authors implemented a 2-week flipped module in educational technology courses to teach PSTs CT among three sections at two universities.
They modified the in-class components among these sections and examined their impact on PSTs’ interest in CT.

Method

Participating courses
This study was conducted in three educational technology course sections at two higher education institutions in the United States in spring 2019.

Participants
At Institute S, 26 PSTs from the course participated in this study.
At Institute W, 33 preservice teachers from the two sections of the course voluntarily participated in this study.

Flipped module design
The module composed of three parts: one online unit and two in-class sessions.
The online unit and first in-class session were taught in the same way and used the same materials and activities in all three sections involved in this study.

Instruments and data collection
An online questionnaire was sent to PSTs at the beginning of the module.
It asked for their demographic information.
PSTs were given 10 minutes at the end of the last in-class session to take a second questionnaire.
This questionnaire included questions asking for PSTs’ interest in computer science and their CT integration intention.

Data analysis
A mixed-method concurrent triangulation design was deployed in this study (Creswell, 2014).
In this design, the authors collected and analyzed quantitative and qualitative data at the same time.
Results generated from the quantitative and qualitative analyses were compared to answer the relationship between the variables in the research questions.

Results and discussion
In this study, the authors implemented a 2-week flipped module teaching PSTs’ CT concepts and coding in three course sections at two institutions.
The module started with an online unit, introducing PSTs to CT concepts and fundamental Scratch coding.
In the first in-class session after the online unit, the course instructors reviewed the CT concepts and Scratch coding practice with the class.
In the follow-up in-class session(s), PSTs experienced different learning activities in three sections, respectively: a second Scratch coding practice, physical computing practices, and both.
The authors applied Krapp’s (2007) person–object theory of interest (POI theory) and examined participants’ major/specialization, gender, and learning experiences in terms of their interest in CT.
Results of the quantitative analysis showed that only the different designs of in-class components predicted participants’ interest in CT.
However, qualitative analysis of PSTs’ answers in the second questionnaire provided a different perspective, showing different interest and CT integration intention for different major/specialization and gender status.
Quantitative results in this study did not demonstrate a significant impact of major/specialization on PSTs’ interest in CT.
However, qualitative analysis of their answers revealed that STEM majors tended to show more interest in CT and had a positive attitude toward integrating it in their future classes.
Meanwhile, non-STEM secondary and elementary education majors had mixed interests and attitudes.
This finding supported the results of prior studies that elementary and non-STEM secondary education majors felt apprehensive about CT teaching (Appleton & Kindt, 1999; Daugherty et al., 2014).
Therefore, the authors suggest future research with a larger sample size to validate their findings from the qualitative analysis.
The qualitative evidence supported the conclusion made in other studies that females were prudent while males liked to take risks in dealing with challenging topics (Sullivan & Bers, 2013).
Most participants explicitly associated their integration intention with interest, while three females described their integration intention without indicating any emotion.
Therefore, the authors could not tell, for the latter group, whether their integration intention was positively correlated with their CT interest.
This question is worth further investigation when there are equal sample sizes between female and male preservice K–12 teachers.
Results of the study showed a significant impact of the in-class activities on PSTs’ interest in CT.
PSTs who took both physical computing and second Scratch coding practices showed more interest than their peers who only took the second Scratch coding practice.
The authors suggest future research focusing on both the design and the length of training to examine how the combination of these two factors affects PSTs’ interest in CT integration.

References
Appleton, K., & Kindt, I. (1999). Why teach primary science? Influences on beginning teachers’ practices. International Journal of Science Education, 21(2), 155–168.
Creswell, J. W. (2014). A concise introduction to mixed methods research. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.
Daugherty, M. K., Carter, V., & Swagerty, L. (2014). Elementary STEM education: The future for technology and engineering education? Journal of STEM Teacher Education, 49(1), 7.
Krapp, A. (2007). An educational–psychological conceptualisation of interest. International Journal for Educational and Vocational Guidance, 7(1), 5–21.
Sullivan, A., & Bers, M. U. (2013). Gender differences in kindergarteners’ robotics and programming achievement. International Journal of Technology and Design Education, 23(3), 691–702. 

Updated: Jan. 01, 2021
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