Responding to the call of the Association for Computing Machinery (ACM) and
the CS/10K Project for the development of models to train K – 12 Computer Science
teachers, this study examined the effectiveness of a 3-week intensive summer workshop
to prepare secondary mathematics teachers to integrate computer programming into
mathematical problem solving. The workshop, using the C programming language, was
built off of pedagogical principles that emphasized hands-on primary learning, a well
crafted sequential set of learning tasks, applications from mathematics, extensive group
work, minimal lecturing, numerous discussions, and a focus on problem solving and logic
instead of syntax.
Specifically, the study examined if the workshop could effectively prepare and
motivate secondary mathematics teachers to integrate computer programming into the
study of classical probability problem solving. The teacher participants were measured
on 1) their ability to solve probability problems with and without computer programming,
2) their self-efficacy to teach programming and probability, and 3) their change in
motivation levels to integrate computer programming into their teaching of mathematics.
Mathematics teachers from grades 7 -14 were the target audience for this
workshop as they were deemed the most likely teachers to benefit from incorporating
computer programming into the classroom. In order to connect with these teachers,
classic probability was the chosen mathematical discipline for exploring computer
programming. Probability is now taught at grades 6 and beyond in mathematics
classrooms, yet many teachers are uncomfortable with the subject. Experimental
probability through programming models and simulations offers an alternate route to the
traditional, and sometimes unattainable, theoretical probability models.
Using measurement tools of probability tests, surveys, and journal submissions,
the study concluded that the workshop had 1) a significantly positive impact on
improving the teacher’s performance of classical probability problems, 2) a significant
increase in teachers’ comfort levels in using programming for probability problem
solving, and 3) a significant increase in comfort and motivation to incorporate
programming teaching. A follow-up on one of the teachers found he had successfully
implemented portions of the workshop curriculum in a middle school class just two
months after completing the workshop.