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CSU professors awarded $1 million NSF grant for training computer science teachers

A team of professors led by Dr. Nigamanth Sridhar (second from right) of Cleveland State University has been awarded a $1 million grant from the National Science Foundation to train teachers to teach a new standardized AP course in computer science in high schools.

Pictured with Dr. Sridhar are, from left, fellow CSU faculty members Dr. Karla Hamlen, assistant professor of educational research; Dr. Santosh Misra, chair of CSU’s Department of Computer and Information Science; and Dr. Debbie Jackson, associate professor of STEM teacher education.

The ultimate goal of their Computing in Secondary Schools (CISS) program is to nurture educators who will be well-prepared to teach high-school students the fundamentals of computer science. The team also includes Dr. Beth Simon of the University of California, San Diego.

“We need a better way of educating students at the high-school level about computing,” said Dr. Sridhar, associate professor in CSU’s Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering. “The technology is always changing, but the core concepts do not change. Our program focuses on the fundamentals, so teachers and students will gain a firm foundation in computer science.”

The project is part of the national CS10K initiative, a joint effort by the NSF and the U.S. Department of Education to train 10,000 computer science teachers in 10,000 high schools across the United States.

The CISS team will provide professional development to teachers from across Ohio (via the Ohio STEM Learning Network), who will hone the skills required to teach the new AP Computer Science Principles course, which Dr. Simon helped to design. The first cohort of teachers will attend an introductory workshop in the summer of 2014, and will receive follow-up support throughout the year. The project also will create an online course on computer science education.

For computer science teachers in secondary schools, the team plans to offer the only licensure pathway in Ohio through the nationally recognized CSUTeach program, create a replicable model for training using an online network and establish mentoring programs with a focus on increasing participation among women and minorities.