Burney, Allison Payne (2020-04). Determining the Effectiveness of a Professional Development Experience Focused on Integrating Computer Science into Early Childhood Curriculum. Doctoral Dissertation.
No doubt exists that literacy and mathematics are the primary foci of early childhood education. Children have limited exposure to computer science-related topics, including robotics, coding, and engineering design. This study is based on prior research evidence indicating that early childhood teachers' confidence and competence can be enhanced with professional development in computer science-related areas, which in turn can enhance the exposure of children and increase their interest and skills in computer science. In this record of study using both quantitative and qualitative methods, I address early childhood teachers' lack of knowledge and experience in coding, engineering design, and robotics, and by conducting three, six-hour workshops focused on these concepts. Participants engaged in hands-on activities and discussions and were provided resources to support learning and classroom integration. Participants completed two pre- and two identical post- assessments measuring a) competence levels in engineering design, robotics, computational thinking, and coding and b) their confidence levels in using coding, engineering design, and robotics in their classrooms. Positive gains were made in both confidence and competence levels of the teachers. The artifact created is a framework that can be used to design and deliver focused professional development. The key factors within the framework include reflective practice, providing appropriate and timely resources, and building a personal network. Designing sustained professional development that includes the key factors may lead to an increase in confidence and competence in integrating computer science concepts across the early childhood curriculum.