Insights from a Computer Science K-6 Professional Development: What our Elementary Teachers Need
Abstract: The computer science (CS) education initiatives hope to introduce CS ideas in the curriculum across schools to highlight the need to prepare today’s students to meet the STEM (Science, Technology, Education and Mathematics) workforce needs. Two faculty (one education faculty and one computer science faculty) collaborated to train elementary teachers to teach CS concepts using unplugged activities and Sphero robots. This study examined elementary teachers’ perspectives on teaching CS, the challenges they face, and areas they believe are needed for them to be successful in the classroom to implement computer science education. Specifically, this study addressed the following research question: What challenges do elementary teachers face in the classroom, and what support systems do they perceive would be helpful? The participants in this study were part of a multi-day professional development organized at a midwestern university. A short survey instrumentation was used to elicit views on teaching computer science. The data were thematically coded. The themes were categorized into three overarching categories: (i) challenges of teaching CS in an elementary classroom, (ii) factors that impact teaching of CS, and (iii) professional needs of elementary teachers. This study provided insights that can inform professional development providers and teacher educators.