Scratch Encore

The University of Chicago, in collaboration with the Chicago Public Schools (CPS), is providing an actionable and empirically-grounded answer to the question: Can we create create advanced 4 th to 6 th grade Computer Science (CS) instructional materials that give equal value to improving equity and student learning outcomes? While there are solid introductory CS curricula for grades 4-6, more advanced materials are either commercial offerings that are expensive, or free, ad-hoc activities that require experienced teachers. This disproportionately hurts learners in under-resourced schools that often serve underrepresented minority students. Instructional materials that advance equity cannot be designed for content and engagement alone, but instead must be vehicles through which solutions to practical barriers to equity can be mitigated. This research practitioner partnership is designing, developing, and evaluating advanced Scratch-based CS instructional materials for upper elementary students through a process that attends to practical barriers to equity.

The RPP uses a process that includes close collaboration between practitioners and researchers, studying existing introductory experiences, involving diverse stakeholders in content design, and providing a learning path for teachers with varying experience and professional development. It will result in instructional materials, increase teacher and student capacity in computing, and provide a blueprint for developing future equity-focused materials. More specifically, this project is: (1) Exploring the current state of computer science instruction in elementary school classrooms, including currently available classroom materials and teacher and student outcomes; (2) Developing a process to manage the complex tradeoffs involved in creating Scratch Encore, an equity-focused, customizable set of advanced elementary CS instructional materials designed to support students historically underrepresented in computing, their teachers, and their schools; and (3) Researching the outcomes of Scratch Encore with respect to equity goals, including student learning and affective outcomes, teacher learning and affective outcomes, and the growth of the researcher-practitioner collaboration. The outcomes of this project will include a validated set of advanced CS instructional materials designed to broaden participation in computing.