Future Teachers to Introduce Computer Science Foundations to K-12 Students


Posted on October 1, 2021
Joy Washington


Dr. Shenghua Zha, assistant professor in the USA College of Education and Professional Studies has recently written a grant to help future teachers learn how to integrate computer science in their K-12 subjects. data-lightbox='featured'
Dr. Shenghua Zha, assistant professor in the USA College of Education and Professional Studies has recently written a grant to help future teachers learn how to integrate computer science in their K-12 subjects.

The University of South Alabama’s College of Education and Professional Studies has been awarded a National Science Foundation grant for nearly $300,000, which will fund a project to help 175 future elementary school teachers improve their subject knowledge, computational thinking and design thinking skills.

Dr. Shenghua Zha, assistant professor in the department of counseling and instructional sciences, is serving as principal investigator for this $299,985, three-year grant.

Zha said the project will teach elementary teachers computational thinking skills and their applications. In addition, it will improve their knowledge of computer science integration in K-6 subjects, and advance an instructional model of integrating computer science teaching in K-12 subjects.

“A direct benefit of this project will be our elementary pre-service teachers,” Zha said. “They will learn and practice how to integrate computer science in their subjects. This will lay a good foundation if they want to pursue a computer science teaching license in the future. An indirect benefit will be the elementary school kids that these pre-service teachers will teach after graduation.”

A multidisciplinary team of faculty supporting the grant includes: Dr. Na Gong, associate professor of electrical and computer engineering, co-principal investigator; Dr. Karen Morrison, assistant professor of education, co-principal investigator; Dr. Kelly Byrd, professor of education, co-principal investigator; Dr. Lauren Brannan, assistant professor of education, co-principal investigator; Dr. Todd Johnson, assistant professor of education, senior personnel; and Jennifer Simpson, director of field services, senior personnel.

The mentors for the project are Director of the Center for Educational Research, Statistics, Evaluation, and Assessment Dr. James Van Haneghan, professor of education; and Associate Vice President of Academic Affairs Dr. Andre Green, professor of education.

According to Zha, the pre-service teachers will participate in monthly seminars followed by teaching practice during the three-year grant. This grant is awarded by the Division of Undergraduate Education at the National Science Foundation.

“We wrote this grant to focus on elementary education majors in our college,” Zha noted. “Future elementary school teachers will learn and practice the knowledge and skills that will be aligned with the Alabama Digital Literacy and Computer Standards and Computer Science Teachers Association Standards for Computer Science Teachers.”


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