Council on Anthropology and Education
Volunteered - Oral Presentation Session
Michael Lachney (Michigan State University)
Formalizing Culturally Responsive Computing: Addressing the Challenges of Implementing Culturally Responsive Computing Applications to meet District Mandated Standards in Two Classrooms
William Babbitt and Michael Lachney
This paper addresses two recognized needs for improving formal education for minoritized youth in U.S. schools: 1) culturally responsive teaching; 2) the implementation of computational technologies to support creative and personalized student-learning. Using qualitative data on the implementation of culturally responsive computing applications in two classrooms--one middle school mathematics classroom and one high school computer science classroom--we show how these two needs can be merged in the design and implementation of Culturally Situated Design Tools (CSDTs). CSDTs are a suite of visual programming applications that create “contact zones” between indigenous and vernacular mathematics and traditional STEM concepts. While many students embraced the use of these tools, taking a new sense of ownership over their classwork, we find that teachers struggle to appropriately represent cultural content and translate community-based mathematical and computational knowledge into the formal, standardized curricula mandated by their school districts. Drawing on interviews and field notes, we introduce how these problems played in the classroom before explaining how we addressed them the design of CSDTs. We then end with three pedagogical principles for overcoming these problems in CSDTs implementation: 1) building school-community relationships that can support lesson implementation; 2) repeated engagement with computing-math-culture connections at each stage of the lesson plan; and 3) ongoing processes of working through trade-offs between cultural fidelity and curriculum fidelity.