Examining the Role of Mentor Teacher Support in a Professional Learning Experience for Preservice Teachers on Integrating Computational Thinking into Elementary Science Education
Wednesday, March 20 5:45 PM-7:00 PM Location: Celebrity Ballroom 1&2
Presider: Monique Woodard, Drexel University, United States
Abstract: We investigated preservice teachers’ (PSTs) (N=13) experiences in a professional development (PD) experience on integrating computational thinking (CT) into elementary science. A subgroup of PSTs (n=6) participated alongside their mentor teachers. The others (n=7) participated independently. Our research question was: To what extent, if any, did participating in a professional learning experience on CT along with their mentor teachers appear to enhance PSTs’ learning and practice related to CT integration? We analyzed evaluation feedback, interviews, participant-developed lesson plans, surveys, and attendance data. Findings suggested that participants in both groups reacted positively to the PD content and approach, and expressed similar perceptions of their CT integration knowledge. PSTs participating with their mentor teachers felt slightly more successful in their CT integration efforts, and perceived CT integration as more feasible in their teaching contexts. However, differences between the groups were minimal. We also noted possible of influence of PSTs’ perceptions of the districts in which they were teaching. Our findings underscore the importance of PSTs’ perceptions of their teaching contexts when bringing a new innovation to the classroom - namely, perceptions of their mentors and curricula as supportive of the innovation. Through this ongoing work, we seek to identify empirically-supported strategies for preparing PSTs to integrate CT into their future classrooms.