Date of Award

Fall 2020

Document Type

Open Access Dissertation

Department

Educational Studies

First Advisor

Hengtao Tang

Abstract

The purpose of this action research was to evaluate the effect educational robotics have on the programming comprehension and motivation of preservice teachers. Computer science is increasingly being integrated into K-8 curricula across the country. However, there are few teachers trained to teach basic computer science concepts. Core subject teachers are being asked to shoulder the load of integrating computer science concepts into their instruction. Educational robotics have gained attention for their potential to aid users with comprehension and motivation while learning to program. This convergent parallel mixed methods research thus investigated (1) the effect of educational robotics on preservice teachers’ comprehension of programming concepts, and (2) how and to what extent that educational robotics influence preservice teachers' motivation related to programming. This study utilized educational robotics to teach preservice teachers (N = 18) programming. Data were obtained through a pretest/posttest Programming Comprehension Assessment, a pre/post Programming Motivation Survey, individual interviews, and field notes. Paired sample t-tests, Wilcoxon signed-ranks tests, and inductive analysis were used to analyze the data. Quantitative data exhibited significant score increases from pretest to posttest, and significant motivation increases from pre-survey to post-survey. Qualitative data revealed five themes; (1) participants perceived that a problem-based robotics curriculum improved their intrinsic motivation toward programming, (2) participants agreed that knowing programming as a skill had advantages as a teacher, (3) participants experienced self-determination toward programming in the face of robotics challenges, (4) participants perceived that the gradually increasing level of difficulty in the robotics curriculum improved their self-efficacy about programming from initially low levels, and (5) participants perceived programming as a viable fit in their future classrooms. The findings of this study indicate that preservice teachers’ comprehension of programming concepts and motivation related to programming can be improved through educational robotics. This research has implications for informing preservice teacher educators integrating programming concepts into their instruction. Recommendations are provided for programming curriculum design.

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