ITLS Professor Dr. Brian Belland Awarded a $136,725 Grant

On June 12, 2017 Dr. Brian Belland was awarded a grant of over $100,000 to help early childhood teachers better teach their students to learn computer programming. Children can be effectively taught to program a robot to move, for example. This is especially true when dramatic play or other student-centered approaches are used. Unfortunately, many teachers do not have the resources to be effective at teaching these concepts, especially when it comes to debugging problems with the computer programs.

Dr. Brian Belland's research will continue to focus on scaffolding. "Scaffolding," he explains, "can be defined as support that helps students generate solutions to complex problems, and gain skill at doing so." Dr. Belland is collaborating with a research team from the University of Georgia on this project.

Dr. Belland explains the research in his own words below.

Brian Belland

"This collaborative project funded by the Improving Undergraduate STEM Education (IUSE) and Robert Noyce Teacher Scholarship Programs of the National Science Foundation is designed to help preservice early childhood teachers learn to teach using robots. Central to teaching and learning with robots is programming. The specific project aims are (a) to determine the nature of the motivational and cognitive challenges that impede successful and efficient debugging among pre-service early childhood teachers, and (b) match scaffolding techniques with specific learner characteristics to promote successful and efficient debugging among pre-service early childhood teachers ...

"This project is innovative in that it uses the learning of debugging strategies not as an end, but rather as a tool to assist future teachers during STEM problem solving and teaching. It is important in that it invites (a) members of a population that is dramatically underrepresented (women), and (b) early childhood students to participate in computer science."

Information on the award and the current abstract can be found on the National Science Foundation's website.


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