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Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Ethnocomputing: the Design and Assessment of Culture-Based Learning Software for Math and Computing Education
by Babbitt, William Edgar, Ph.D., Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, 2014, 147; 3684064
Abstract (Summary)

The United States has a serious problem in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics. The STEM disciplines are suffering from a `Quiet Crisis'[1]. The problem is that African Americans, Latino/a, Native American, and other ethnic minority students are choosing careers in the STEM disciplines at lower percentages than their white and Asian counterparts [2]. We refer to this disparity as underrepresentation. This work focuses on the use of the Culturally Situated Design Tools (CSDTs, as a means to counter this underrepresentation. The programmable set of CSDTs represents the development of this software from being focused on ethnomathematics, to ethnocomputing. Ethnocomputing is the reproduction of cultural artifacts in simulation. The CSDTs are part of the constructionist genre of programmable software that seeks to teach computer science concepts to students as they construct these cultural artifacts. Development work on the programmable CSDT software has provided the opportunity to examine the challenges that occur in cross cultural software development using the Agile method. This work includes ethnographic user and developer stories that have informed the development of the pCSDT software. Among the challenges of developing this software has been negotiating the controversy of what we have come to term "The Content Agnostic Position". This is the notion that all software with objects in simulation, regardless of what those objects are, possesses equal value in teaching students. This position, however, often results in the commercial or violent colonization of user spaces by corporate produced media objects and simulated gun violence. It is our view that this colonization can be diminished through the use of cultural objects in simulation, such as those found in the CSDTs. Our work is intended to create a decolonized space for mathematics and computing education. This work also reports the findings of a quasi-experiment conducted with junior high school students in Kumasi, Ghana, West Africa during the summer of 2014.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Krishnamoorthy, Mukkai, Eglash, Ron
Commitee: Bennett, Audrey, Piper, Bruce, Spooner, David
School: Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute
Department: Multidisciplinary Science
School Location: United States -- New York
Source: DAI-B 76/07(E), Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Mathematics education, Educational technology, Computer science
Keywords: Agile, Culture, Education, Ethnocomputing, Ethnomathematics, Simulation
Publication Number: 3684064
ISBN: 978-1-321-58830-9
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