Different Paths, Same Direction: How Teachers Learn Computational Thinking in STEM Practices through Professional Development

Sally Wu, Amanda Nicole Peel, Connor Patrick Bain, Michael Stephen Horn, Uri Wilensky

Research output: Contribution to journalConference articlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


One approach to expanding computational thinking (CT) in K-12 education is for mathematics and science teachers to integrate CT into their curriculum. However, teachers must first engage with computational practices themselves and gain confidence in their ability to teach CT to their students. To this end, we developed a four-week professional development for 11 science and mathematics high school teachers. We engaged teachers in four CT-STEM practices focused on data, modeling, algorithms, and programming. Then, each teacher co-designed a computationally enhanced curriculum for their classroom in collaboration with a member of our research team. Data from pre-post surveys showed an overall increase in teachers’ reported confidence in teaching CT-STEM practices after the professional development. However, teachers’ change in confidence varied across the four practices and across individual teachers. The variance aligns with the variance in teachers’ responses on what they learned. Different teachers reported learning a variety of knowledge and skills, whether about CT itself, specific CT tools, or how to integrate CT into a particular curricular topic. These findings suggest that engaging teachers in co-design of computational-enhanced STEM curriculum may cultivate multiple pathways that help teachers integrate CT into K-12 classrooms.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)52-57
Number of pages6
JournalProceedings of International Conference on Computational Thinking Education
StatePublished - 2021
Event5th APSCE International Conference on Computational Thinking and STEM Education, CTE-STEM 2021 - Virual, Online
Duration: Jun 2 2021Sep 4 2021


  • computational thinking
  • CT integration
  • curriculum design
  • STEM education
  • teacher professional development

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education
  • Computer Science Applications

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