Collaborative Research: FLECKS: Fostering Collaborative Computer Science Learning with Intelligent Virtual Companions for Upper Elementary Students

Principal Investigator: Kristy E. Boyer

Sponsor: National Science Foundation

Start Date: August 15, 2017

End Date: July 31, 2021

Amount: $1,176,452


There is growing recognition that children can, and should, learn computer science. One of the central tenets of computer science is that it is a collaborative discipline, yet children do not start out with an intrinsic ability to collaborate. The project will provide the opportunity for upper elementary students to learn computer science and build strong collaboration practices. Leveraging the promise of virtual learning companions, the project will address three thrusts. First, the project will collect datasets of collaborative learning for computer science in diverse upper elementary school classrooms. Second, the project will design, develop, and iteratively refine its intelligent virtual learning companions, which support dyads of students in a scaffolded computer science learning environment with an interactive online coding tool. Third, the project will generate research findings and evidence about how children collaborate in computer science learning, and how best to support their collaboration with intelligent virtual learning companions. There will be three families of deliverables: learning activities and professional development, an intelligent learning environment with virtual learning companions, and research evidence that furthers the state of scholarship and practice surrounding the collaborative learning of computer science. The project will situate itself in highly diverse elementary schools in two states, Durham County, North Carolina and Alachua County, Florida. This project is supported by the Discovery Research PreK-12 program, which funds research and development of STEM innovations and approaches.

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