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Culturally situated design tools: Generative justice as a foundation for stem diversity

December 1, 2016

The " pipeline " model of STEM education conceives of underrepresentation by race, gender and class in terms of leaks that fail to deliver students to their destination in the science and technology workforce. But that model fails to consider the role of STEM in producing underrepresentation. This can only be solved by moving from the extractive approach of the pipeline model to a generative model in which the value produced by STEM students cycles back to their own communities. We report on our experience creating and evaluating Culturally Situated Design Tools. Using a framework of " generative justice " , we contrast the cyclic social damage, which reproduces underrepresentation with the potential for STEM education as a niche in the technosocial ecosystem that can address underrepresentation and causal factors.

Software Design in the 'Construction Genre' of Learning Technology: Content Aware versus Content Agnostic

January 15, 2016

This article describes and critiques a phenomenon that we identify as content agnosticism in the ?construction genre? of educational software. Our thesis is that the content agnostic position ? the assumption that any technology which supports constructionist learning theories must act as a blank slate or empty container ? has been erroneously presented as the single trajectory towards the development and implementation of constructionist technologies. We survey some of the disadvantages to the content agnostic position, ranging from violent video game formats to ways in which consumption practices perform a corporate colonization of childhood. As an alternative framework we reconsider the constructionism ? instructionism continuum as just one of two orthogonal dimensions; here both content agnostic and content aware constructionist positions are possible. We review some successful content aware design in math and computing education, and finally provide a detailed case study of Culturally Situated Design Tools (CSDTs), as an example of how constructionism can be combined with a content aware approach to math and computing software design.

Adinkra Mathematics: A study of Ethnocomputing in Ghana

January 1, 2015

This paper details the development and evaluation of software that allows middle school students to explore the mathematical aspects of Ghanaian Adinkra symbols. We tested the effectiveness of this simulation in a Ghanaian junior high school by conducting a randomized quasi-experiment. We begin this paper by framing culturally responsive math education within the interventionist tradition of ethnomathematics. We draw this tradition together with an empirical exploration of the mathematics embedded in Adinkra symbols. We follow this with a methodological explanation for how we translated the mathematical significance of Adinkra into the design of our software, ?Culturally Situated Design Tools.? Finally, we describe the quasi-experimental evaluation of the software using a randomized assignment of students in control and intervention groups in Ghana. We found statistically significant improvement for students using the culture-based software in comparison to similar software with no cultural content.

cSELF (Computer Science Education from Life): Broadening Participation through Design Agency

October 1, 2013

The phrase ?broadening participation? is often used to describe efforts to decrease the race and gender gap in science and engineering education, and in this paper the authors describe an educational program focused on addressing the lower achievement rates and career interests of underrepresented ethnic groups (African American, Native American, and Latino students). However ?broadening participation? can also describe the more general problem of a narrow, decontextualized form of education that can alienate all demographics. Broadening the scope of computing education can not only help address disparities in differ ent social groups, but also make technical education more attractive to all individuals, and help us create a generation of science and engineering professionals who can better incorporate an understanding of the world into their technical work. The program the authors report on, Computer Science Education from Life (cSELF) takes a modest step in this direction. Using the concept of ?design agency? the authors describe how this merging of abstract formal structures, material creative practice, and cultural knowledge can improve underrepresented student engagement, and foster learning practices in computing that offer broader forms of social expression for all students.?