Results from Rice University WeTeach_CS: A Computer Science Teaching Collaborative Serving Teachers with Different Needs through Variety of Pathways
Computer science (CS) is one of the school subjects that gained a great attention recently, yet it faces challenges such as teacher shortages and huge variability in teachers’ professional preparation. These challenges make PD efforts even more critical to develop in-service teachers to effectively teach CS topics. This paper presents results from Rice University School Mathematics Project’s WeTeach_CS program, a CS teaching collaborative that provided 20 CS teachers with an innovative professional development. The innovation comes from the four different pathways to serve diverse needs of the teachers in the best way possible and each pathway having several components spread out to several months rather than being one-time, one-shot. The paper will describe each pathway in detail to set an example for other professional development programs. The overarching goal of the program was to develop the self-efficacy and pedagogical content knowledge, which as research shows are integral to successful CS teaching. This study focused on teachers’ self-efficacy for CS, CS teaching, and computational thinking, and technological, pedagogical, and content knowledge (TPACK). Data collection means include pre- and post-surveys, teacher reflections, and teach interviews. The results are promising in that the collaborative improved teachers in all these areas. The paper also describes the different pathways in detail to provide an example of a successful CS teaching collaborative.