Changing Culture in Robotics Classroom | NSF DRK12 Project 1418199

How CCRC Addresses Teacher Training

The project studies how teachers teach students to program robots and develops supports to help teachers teach Computational Thinking Practices (CTP) and Computer Science (CS) concepts in robotics classrooms.

Lessons Learned

Carnegie Mellon’s Robotics Academy has trained and certified over 1000 middle and high school teachers via week-long summer training sessions. Pre-course surveys have found that the majority of teachers who attend our training consist of a mix of technology education, math, science, and activity teachers who were asked by their principal to teach robotics; the majority of these teachers do not have a CS background. As a result, CS concepts, CS practices, and CS pedagogy are not intrinsically clear to them. Based on the results of this study we have significantly modified the Robotics Academy’s professional development programs.

All courses include pre and post class surveys designed to learn more about the teacher backgrounds and their opinions about various features of the course (for formative improvements), and pre and post tests designed to measure the teacher’s competency. Online classes are recorded and posted for 24/365 teacher access, and the course also uses monitored teacher forums that allow questions to be answered by facilitators as well as other teachers taking the course. The course content is designed to align with a teacher’s semester course schedule (i.e., the course teaches concepts in the same order that a teacher will be introducing the concepts in their own classes). Teachers have found this feature very helpful in the past; it provides them with real-time support during initial implementation.

Carnegie Mellon Robotics Academy Teacher Certifications

In Pennsylvania, as well as in many other states there is no CS teaching certification available; Carnegie Mellon Robotics Academy training includes an optional certification test that certifies teachers understands the pedagogy of using robotics to teach CS-STEM concepts, how to use and troubleshoot the specific robotics educational technology that they are trained to use, how to teach students to troubleshoot their own programming problems, and questioning techniques that lead to student understanding.

To learn more about Carnegie Mellon Robotics Academy teacher certifications, please click here. This will take you to the Carnegie Mellon Robotics Academy website.