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Exploring use of the Bridge21 model as a 21st Century method of Continuing Professional Development (CPD) in Computer Science (CS) for Teachers in Ireland
Across Europe there is strong push to teach Computer Science (CS) in post-primary schools (Forbes & Messina, 2002). Sentance and Csizmadia (2017a) advise that CS is perceived as a difficult subject, and call for Continuing Professional Development (CPD) to empower teachers (both in terms of the subject content knowledge and pedagogical approaches) to teach CS. Students struggle with transferring computing concepts from one context to another (Pea, 1987), while teachers lack the specialist pedagogical content knowledge to teach the subject (M. Webb et al., 2017). Traditional CPD programmes are criticised for using didactic methods, which are perceived to limit the sharing of expertise and the development of content knowledge, which can be used in a practical context. Bridge21 is a collaborative, project-based, technology-mediated pedagogical model designed to facilitate 21st Century learning experiences which nurture student autonomy (Lawlor, Marshall, & Tangney, 2016). The Bridge21 pedagogical model supports collaborative, technology-mediated, project-based learning, and is used in a number of post-primary schools across Ireland. Trinity College Dublin (TCD) provides CPD for teachers specialising in 21st Century Teaching and Learning, using the Bridge21 model to deliver Computational Thinking, Programming, and Hardware modules. The aim of the CPD is to equip teachers with the content knowledge and the practical expertise for teaching CS. The adaptation of the Bridge21 model as a CS CPD method provides an opportunity to explore what impact a 21st Century approach to professional learning (covering the combined elements of facilitation, teamwork, project-based and technology-mediated learning) plays in equipping teachers with the pedagogical content knowledge, confidence and expertise to teach computing. The researcher used a mixed methods approach to data collection in both CPD and school contexts to understand the impact of a 21st Century approach to professional learning. Data was collected over a consecutive five-year period. The researcher designed two mixed method questionnaires to collect data from a self-selecting sample of N = 1,215 teachers attending Bridge21 CPD workshops and to collect data from a self-selecting sub-set of N = 385 CPD teachers involved in using the Bridge21 model to teach computing in schools. Each questionnaire was adapted from existing Kirkpatrick (2007) training programme evaluation instrumentation. The CPD instrument examined teacher reactions to the CPD; teacher perceptions of their learning and intentions to use elements learned in the CPD for teaching computing in schools. The analysis of field note data collected during CPD workshops added context to the quantitative results. The teaching computing in school instrument explored the actual use of the Bridge21 model for teaching computing. Two research questions are addressed in this thesis. The first question explores what are teachers perceptions of the Bridge21 model as a method of CPD; with further questions investigating what are teachers? reactions to the CPD workshop content?; what content knowledge did teachers learn?; and what strategies did teachers intend using for teaching computing? A second research question examined what are teachers? experiences of using the Bridge21 model to teach computing; with a further question investigating what elements of the Bridge21 model did teachers identify as most relevant for teaching computing in practice? The CPD results confirm that teacher perceptions of the CPD, involving the use of the Bridge21 model as a method for learning computing, were positive. Teachers? reactions to the workshop content were positive, with teachers self-reporting gains in content knowledge, and confidence in facilitating collaborative, project-based, technology-mediated activities. Teachers also reported that the CPD met their expectations and that they intended using what they had learned in teaching computing. The school results confirm that teachers? experience of teaching computing following the Bridge21 model, led to an observed increase in student engagement in computing. Teachers also observed an increase in student autonomy, with students taking the lead in computing projects, assisting peers, and working together to share computing knowledge and expertise. Three contributions emerged from the research. First, the research findings confirm that using the Bridge21 model in a CPD context played a core role in assisting teachers? master CS content knowledge and methods. Second, research evidence is provided which reports that teachers observed an increase in student engagement in computing through the use of the Bridge21 model. And third, that the adaptation of the Kirkpatrick (1994) training programme evaluation framework provided a structure for investigating teacher perceptions and experiences of 21st Century CS CPD.
Keyword(s): Bridge21; Computing and Programming; 21st Century Teaching and Learning; Social Constructivist Pedagogy; Continuing Professional Development; In-Service Teaching; Ireland
Publication Date:
Type: Doctoral thesis
Peer-Reviewed: Yes
Institution: Trinity College Dublin
Citation(s): FISHER, LORRAINE, Exploring use of the Bridge21 model as a 21st Century method of Continuing Professional Development (CPD) in Computer Science (CS) for Teachers in Ireland, Trinity College Dublin.School of Computer Science & Statistics, 2019
Publisher(s): Trinity College Dublin. School of Computer Science & Statistics. Discipline of Computer Science
Supervisor(s): TANGNEY, Denis
First Indexed: 2019-09-19 06:10:17 Last Updated: 2019-09-19 06:10:17