An interdisciplinary team of Montclair State University researchers are tackling one of New Jersey’s pressing educational challenges – a lack of computer science (CS) resources and professional development programming for K-12 schools and teachers.
Computer Science Associate Professor Katherine Herbert and College of Education and Human Services Acting Associate Dean for Academic Affairs Sumi Hagiwara are overseeing more than $1.2 million in grants from the National Science Foundation (NSF) and the New Jersey Department of Education (NJDOE) to create support programs, resources, professional development programming and opportunities for New Jersey teachers to increase computer science offerings in elementary education.
Through one of two $333,330 NJDOE awards, the University will host the Montclair State University Computer Science for Everyone Everywhere Program – a workshop series designed to help teachers and administrators utilize the New Jersey Computer Science and Design Thinking Standards – on campus beginning July 12, 2022.
“These programs will help K-12 teachers address the computer science standards set forth in Governor Murphy’s 2019 plan to expand computer science in New Jersey, with Montclair as a model for CS education led by CS and teacher education faculty,” says Herbert. “We’ve designed these programs to provide K-12 teachers with a supportive, collaborative environment to deliver equity-oriented, inclusive computer science and education to all K-12 students in New Jersey.”
The second NJDOE award will allow the team to create the Montclair State University Computer Science Education Hub, which will serve as a central resource for northern New Jersey for professional development in computer science for K-12 teachers, counselors and administrators. Beginning in September, the initiative will include a resource library and a “Curriculum Hack-a-Thon” in December to kick off Computer Science Education Week.
As part of the NSF’s Answers and Research Experience for Teachers programs, two collaborative grants (administered alongside NJIT, Rutgers and the University of West Virginia) will also provide resources to allow for K-12 teachers to visit Montclair to work in on-campus research and teaching labs to develop modules for their classes based on their individual research experiences. The two awards – NSF award numbers 2149750 and 2206885 total more than $660,000.
The grants come on the heels of Montclair’s launch of its online graduate certificate program in K-12 Computer Science Teaching in 2020, the first of its kind in New Jersey.
Designed for equity-oriented teachers seeking to meet demand for high-quality computer science education, the 15-credit, five-course program offers coursework in computer science content including coding, programming, problem-solving through computational thinking, equity and diversity in computer science fields, and research-based methods of teaching computer science.
“The certificate program creates a pathway to prepare computer science teachers to deliver high-quality computer science education,” says Hagiwara. “Together with the grant programs, Montclair is poised to be a leader for interdisciplinary research and best practices in New Jersey computer science education.”
For more information about grant-related professional development events in computer science at Montclair State University, register by visiting Montclair’s Computer Science K-12 Professional Development Interest Form.