CMU Learning Lab To Help Design, Develop Community College Computer Science Curriculum

Thursday, October 7, 2021 - by Aaron Aupperlee

CMU's TEEL Lab will collaborate with the National Institute for Staff and Organizational Development to create a more engaging and inclusive community college IT and computer science curriculum.

The Technology for Effective and Efficient Learning Lab (TEEL Lab) at Carnegie Mellon University will collaborate with the National Institute for Staff and Organizational Development (NISOD) to create a more engaging and inclusive curriculum for teaching information technology and computer science in community colleges. 

The Social and Interactive Learning at Community Colleges (SAIL-CC) program will be piloted at colleges representing a variety of geographic locations, rural and urban settings, school sizes, faculty and student demographics, required learning objectives, and other factors.

"We are thrilled to be able to work with the TEEL Lab to provide additional professional development that builds capacity for research-based teaching methods for information technology and computer science faculty members at our member colleges," said NISOD's Executive Director Edward J. Leach. "Considering the demographic changes taking place in the U.S., it will be especially rewarding to help engage faculty members in culturally responsive teaching practices."

SAIL-CC will design and develop innovative methods and tools to improve teaching and learning in entry-level information technology and computer science courses taught at community colleges. TEEL Lab educational researchers will lead the project, working closely with NISOD and instructors from five community colleges across the U.S. The SAIL-CC grant has been funded as a Level III Engaged Student Learning Project through the National Science Foundation's Improving Undergraduate STEM Education Initiative.

SAIL-CC aims to generate new knowledge about STEM teaching and learning by refining and pilot-testing novel tools, resources and methods that can be easily transferred to a wide variety of academic contexts; are shown to increase student engagement and learning in information technology and computer science courses at community colleges; and will increase the use of research-based teaching practices by community college faculty members. 

In addition, SAIL-CC will integrate culturally responsive teaching practices to help faculty members consider the intersectional identities and contexts of their students, their institutions and themselves.

"We are delighted to work with NISOD and our partner colleges as we co-design, develop and teach courses that adopt project-based learning and focus on exploring methodologies to improve self-efficacy, promote STEM identity and belonging, and incorporate culturally responsive teaching," said Principal Investigator Majd Sakr, a teaching professor in CMU's Computer Science Department and the project lead inside the TEEL Lab. "We plan to reach out and engage with as many community colleges as are interested in adopting our courses, teaching methods and platform that enables data-driven teaching."

Project launch activities will begin shortly, including recruiting eight beta test colleges and 25 pilot colleges from NISOD member institutions.

For additional information, contact Majd Sakr or Edward Leach.