Sociocultural theories of learning guide our approach to examining engagement, identity, and agency in Computer Science classrooms. These theories recognize that humans do not learn in isolation, but through joint activity with other people in social contexts that are directly impacted by cultural, historical, and political influences of the surrounding world (Vygotsky, 1978; Wertsch, del Rio, & Alvarez, 1995). Thus, our approach to understanding students’ experiences closely examines interactions between teachers and students, students and students, while taking into account the larger school and sociopolitical environments in which students and teachers live.

Our project involves a Research-Practice Partnership with district and educator partners across three different regions in the United States (Los Angeles, Mississippi, and the Northeast). In this current year of work, we have collaborated closely with our West Coast partners to create data collection protocols and jointly analyze data together. Data sources we are collecting in Los Angeles include:

  1. Pre- and Post-Surveys of all ECS and AP CSP students in our local district (n=2000+)
  2. Weekly observations in 4 focal classrooms (ECS and APCSP)
  3. In-depth interviews with 20 focal students about their personal engagement with CS, prior knowledge, pre-to-post-course experiences, and creation of projects in ECS and AP CSP classes