Bernard Brommel Hall exterior in autumn

Monday, October 3, 2016

The National Science Foundation’s STEM+Computing Partnership (STEM+C) program has awarded Northeastern Illinois University a three-year, $700,608 grant to promote computational thinking among students who are preparing to become teachers.

The grant, which takes effect in October 2016, will fund a project titled Computer Science For All: Coding for Educators in STEM, which seeks to advance new approaches to—and evidence-based understanding of—the integration of computing in STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) teaching and learning, as well as broadening participation in computing and computing-intensive fields.

The goal of the project is to integrate computational thinking and coding across the science and math curriculum for middle and elementary school pre-service teachers in the Math, Science and Technology for Quality Education (MSTQE) program at Northeastern.

MSTQE is a bridge program in which students from Wright College and Truman College take courses at Northeastern but identify with the Chicago City Colleges (CCC) as their “home” institution. Northeastern and CCC students take courses together and are given the opportunity to interact with faculty from both institutions.

“We are excited to incorporate computer science concepts in science and math pre-service teachers’ classrooms,” said Computer Science Assistant Professor Rachel Adler, who applied for the grant with Assistant Professor of Mathematics Joseph Hibdon, Biology Professor Jennifer Slate, Physics Professor Sudha Srinivas and Associate Professor of Educational Inquiry and Curriculum Studies and Durene Wheeler. “Our students can use these skills in their future classrooms, which means more elementary and middle school children will be exposed to computer science and it really will be Computer Science for All!”

Two initiatives will accomplish the curriculum integration: computing and computational thinking will be incorporated into mathematics and science courses for pre-service elementary and middle grade teachers. Additionally, two new courses are being developed, which will be required for all MSTQE students.

The program will be directed by Heather Patay, program director of the Math and Science Concepts minor for Elementary and Middle School Teaching.