Physical computing education: Designing for student authorship of values-based learning experiences
DesPortes, Kayla Surry
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No one should have to conform or assimilate in order to participate in the design and creation of technology; however, this is the reality facing many students today. Prior research suggests that the issues surrounding lack of participation in computing and engineering education among underrepresented minorities goes beyond simply access or obtaining “critical mass”. Instead, it points to an exclusive, dominant culture that is often toxic for students outside the stereotypical mold. From being obligated to participate in activities and projects that do not speak to their values, to unspoken and unknown requirements of prior experience; non-dominant students are marginalized in ways that span the socio-technical learning environment. My dissertation investigates the design of learning activities and educational technology for physical computing in order to support inclusivity and equity. The work provides a way to conceptualize and frame the design and analysis of the learning environment from the perspective of values. The analysis of the learning environments in these studies provided an understanding of what aspects of the learning environment supported and hindered students in shaping the experience around their values. The studies captured real-world and laboratory experiences of novice learners working with physical computing tools. The investigations offered insights into the types of obstacles, breakdowns and barriers they are faced with, along with an understanding of how the tools contributed to this. By continued exploration of the learning activities and tools to support students’ values we will build our understanding for how to support a diversity of students to learn about and use computing in ways that are personally meaningful.