Date of Award:

5-2022

Document Type:

Dissertation

Degree Name:

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Department:

Education

Committee Chair(s)

Patricia S. Moyer-Packenham

Committee

Patricia S. Moyer-Packenham

Committee

Jessica F. Shumway

Committee

Beth L. MacDonald

Committee

Jody Clarke-Midura

Committee

Scott A. Chamberlin

Abstract

Tangible coding toys have been promulgated as useful learning tools for young children to learn computer science and mathematics concepts and skills. Although research shows coding toys can support mathematics for early childhood aged children, little is known about the specific design features of coding toys that afford mathematical thinking concepts and skills to young children. The purpose of this study was to examine kindergarten-aged children’s awareness of the design features in coding toys and to understand how those design features afford children’s engagement with mathematics. The dataset used for this study was collected as part of design-based research NSF project (award #DRL-1842116). I used a multi-phased qualitative analysis with a total of 42 hours of video data of 106, 5- to 6-year-old children engaging in coding toy tasks with four coding to answer the three research questions which were focused on perception of design features, mathematical engagement, and how different design features could afford mathematics.

Results indicated that (a) children used and perceived the grid square and command arrow design features frequently, while other design features were used moderately or rarely; (b) children engaged in a variety of mathematical concepts and skills in five main categories of mathematical topics: spatial reasoning, geometry, comparison, measurement, and number; and (c) the relationship between design features affording mathematics varied depending on the coding toy. This research highlights the importance of specific design features to afford certain mathematical concepts and skills. These findings have important implications as early childhood educators explore ways to implement coding toys to support mathematics and computer science concepts, researchers conduct studies to better understanding how coding toys support mathematics and computer science learning, and commercial companies design new coding toys to fill the needs of educators and parents.

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