Seminars & Colloquia

Tamara Clegg

School of Interactive Computing, Georgia Institute of Technology

"The Power of a Rich Learning Context for Fostering Computer Science Identities "

Thursday February 19, 2009 02:30 PM
Location: 3211, EBII NCSU Centennial Campus
(Visitor parking instructions)


Abstract: As a teacher, I am passionate about helping my students reach their potential, by helping them recognize who they are and how the content I am teaching applies to their lives – whether professionally, in the home, or for their interests and hobbies. This means I strive to provide rich learning contexts to help students apply what they are learning in the classroom to their professional, domestic, or extra-curricular activities. A rich learning context provides a real-world motivating problem or challenge as well as a domain for advancing key learning concepts.

In this talk, I will use examples of rich learning contexts from my Computer Science teaching experiences and from my research to address the instructional needs of the diverse set of learners in typical Computer Science classrooms. For example, as a guest lecturer and teaching assistant in Computer Science courses, I have strived to provide my students with rich learning contexts through providing meaningful examples, illustrations, and activities. Over the past five years, I have also strived to provide rich learning contexts in my research, designing a technology-enhanced learning environment, Kitchen Science Investigators, where middle-school learners explore science and scientific reasoning in the context of cooking and baking. My goal was for learners to begin to develop identities as scientific reasoners and thinkers as they began to see and explore science in the everyday activity of cooking. Preliminary results suggest that learners previously uninterested in science were able to see its relevance and begin to use it at home and in their science classes.

Short Bio: Tamara Clegg is a Ph.D. candidate in the School of Interactive Computing at Georgia Tech in the area of Learning Sciences and Technology. Her research focuses on how we can design technology and learning environments to foster identity development and understanding how this identity development happens. Her research project, entitled Kitchen Science Investigators (KSI) is a hands-on cooking and science program where middle schoolers learn the science behind cooking and scientific reasoning through preparing and cooking food and running science experiments. Throughout their experiences in KSI, learners create explanatoids (short explanations), stories, and annotated recipes in special software that captures their understanding of the science behind their cooking. Tamara's dissertation is focused on understanding how students form identities as scientists, investigators, and chefs, as well as what we can do to foster the development of these characteristics through the program and supporting technology. Kitchen Science Investigators has been featured on CNN, in the New York Times, and will be featured on the NPR show, The Splendid Table.

Host: Dennis Bahler, Computer Science, NCSU

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