“Stitching the Loop with Electronic Textiles” by Fields, Kafai, Lui, Walker, Shaw, et al. …

  • ©Deborah Fields, Yasmine B. Kafai, Debora A. Lui, Justice Walker, Mia S. Shaw, Gayithri Jayathirtha, Tomoko M. Nakajima, Joanna Goode, and Michael T. Giang


Abstract:


    Many efforts of curricula design have concentrated on expanding participation in K-12 CS education by introducing innovative approaches but few have focused on addressing longstanding equity issues through their choices of culturally relevant materials and activities. In this paper, we describe our efforts in using electronic textiles which include Arduino-based microcontrollers that are sewn with conductive thread on fabrics to connect actuators and sensors and create interactive wearables. We report on the implementation of an electronic textiles curricular unit in the Exploring Computer Science introductory computing course in 13 high schools involving 272 high school students largely from underrepresented groups in a major metropolitan school district. We examined two issues relevant to broadening equitable participation in CS: (1) students’ changed perceptions of computing, and (2) students’ depth of learning of computing, circuitry and crafting in the final project. Pre/post surveys on students’ perceptions of computing showed positive, significant gains in students’ self-confidence in solving CS problems, fascination with computing and ability to be creative with computing. Teacher evaluations of students’ final projects revealed robust learning in the areas of basic programming and computational circuitry as well as strong learning across more challenging computational concepts, with room for growth. We discuss factors that impacted student outcomes and outline steps for further analysis.


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