Skip to main content

Welcome, you are visiting Motivation CT

Motivation CT Profile

Curriculum and Assessment Design to Study the Development of Motivation and Computational Thinking for Middle School Students across Three Learning Contexts


Computing has become an integral part of practice within modern fields of science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM). As a result, the STEM+Computing Partnerships (STEM+C) program seeks to advance new approaches to, and evidence-based understanding of, the integration of computing and computational thinking in STEM teaching and learning and broadening participation of students in computing and computing-intensive fields. This project builds upon a successful prior afterschool program for teaching computational thinking (TECHFIT), expanding it to include two additional new learning contexts: an elective class; as embedded modules within discipline-based middle school courses; together with the existing afterschool program. A total of 165 teachers (including 144 new teachers) and 2850 middle school students (grades 6-8) at schools with large underserved and/or minority populations will be involved in the project. The project has two core objectives: 1) to develop and validate a computational thinking assessment tool; and, 2) to examine the development of computational thinking and motivation in middle school students across the three contexts (afterschool, in-school class, embedded modules). The learning activity for students involves engaging in a game-based activity for physical fitness by using the programming language Scratch, flowchart programming, and via a microcontroller with electronic parts.
The research employs a pretest-posttest multi-site, randomized controlled trial design to determine the impact of three learning contexts (after-school program, in-school course, and instructional modules) on students' pre-/post computational thinking skills, motivation, self-efficacy for computing, and interest in and aspiration for computing careers. New instruments will be developed and validated to evaluate the extent to which students learn computational thinking skills. The research will examine the relationships among motivational factors and computational thinking in the three learning contexts to determine if context influences teacher delivery and student experiences, and ultimately the development of computational thinking.