The Robomatter team’s commitment to developing a quality curriculum rich in computational thinking is paying off in a big way – not only is it helping to make research headlines, it’s preparing students for more than just a job in tech.
Published in the prestigious academic journal, Association for Computing Machinery, a study highlighting Robomatter’s curriculum as utilized by the Carnegie Mellon Robotics Academy and the University of Pittsburgh’s Learning Research and Development Center demonstrates the curriculum’s efficacy and Robomatter’s presence at the forefront of education innovation.
The peer-reviewed study titled Developing Computational Thinking through a Virtual Robotics Programming Curriculum validates that after completing a level of the Robomatter Curriculum, students show significant gains in generalizable computational thinking – an important skill for students facing today’s evolving economy; an economy which, by most accounts, seems to be tech-based – with very little desire to look back.
The New York Times recently ran an article explaining:
The national priority in education can be summed up in a four-letter acronym: STEM. And that’s understandable. A country’s proficiency in science, technology, engineering and mathematics is vital in generating economic growth, advancing scientific innovation and creating good jobs…What recent studies have made increasingly apparent is that the greatest number of high-paying STEM jobs are in the “T” (specifically, computing).
Responding to the call of such an emphasis on tech skills, the emergence of Robomatter’s TREC and IDEAS curriculum – that which performed so well in the study – provides a viable pathway to STEM education and prepares students to meet the demands of the global tech economy.
But more than that, the ambitions of the curriculum extend to striving for overall excellence and high-functioning adulthood in general.
It is important to note that a goal of the study was to show that students did not just show gains in computational thinking in a robotics or a computer science context.
From the study:
“The increasing contextual distance of the items (from robotics) was intended to assess whether participation in the robotics curriculum developed problem-solving strategies that could transfer to non-robotics tasks.”
Therefore, the greater goal was to demonstrate how this type of curriculum yields significant gains in general problem-solving tasks as well.
The stakes were high, as a demand for data around successful implementation of the Robomatter curriculum is sought after by school and governmental leaders all over the world. This peer-reviewed study is a summation of two studies designed to meet that demand; an initial exploratory study with multiple classrooms in one school district and a second study across 26 classrooms in four school districts. Students engaged with the curriculum through a combination of physical robots and the Robot Virtual Worlds environment.
The study’s findings are inspiring:
When examining these effects by the amount of progress that students are able to make through the curriculum, however, we observed significantly larger learning gains occurred for groups of students who reach the more content-rich Sensors and Program Flow units. Thus, students were able to learn generalizable skills, despite being embedded in a context that placed strong emphasis on a particular context (i.e., robotics), suggesting that a robotics context can be used in an extended fashion for instruction on computational thinking, rather than just as a short application included within a CS course.
These findings corroborate the results of previous CMRA research that showed the effectiveness of the curriculum in teaching students programming skills (2013) and proportional reasoning skills (2014). It also supports the awards that the curriculum has recently received from the Global STEM Alliance and the International Technology Engineering Educators Association.
This access to learning more generalizable skills through the optimum implementation of the Robomatter curriculum is more than just exciting. It supports our strongly held belief that STEM curriculum benefits all students – and that teaching the language of innovation to all can one day be a reality.