The cultural politics of constructionist computing : STS approaches to the critique and design of educational technology

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Lachney, Michael
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Electronic thesis
Science and technology studies
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This dissertation aims to fill in this gap by asking: what education research opportunities open up in STS once the loop between STS and CLT is acknowledged? I introduce three ways to approach STS educational research by continuing the loop. First, I turn laboratory studies back onto the implementation of CLT inspired educational technologies by probing different ways that schools and classrooms have been metaphorically characterized as laboratories. This chapter aims to make a contribution to literature on the laboratorization of society. Second, I critique the way that the STS concept of trading zones has been taken up in computer science education research. While there is a push toward creating creole trading zones in this research, I return to literature on the topic to show the equal importance of pidgin trading zones and argue for a polyglot of trading zones in computer science education research. Third, I argue that culturally responsive CLT inspired technologies can be designed and implemented in ways that support better classroom experiences for students of color, as well as build school-community connections. I use this argument to propose culturally responsive computing as a brokerage strategy. I end the dissertation by laying out three tenets for STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) Studies: 1) Schools as profound sites of intervention in STEM fields; 2) There are strands of STS that have particular significance for the challenges of empowering STEM education; 3) STEM expertise is embodied. These three tenets open up an agenda where STS makes STEM education a central topic of research and practice.
Science and Technology Studies (STS) and Constructionist Learning Theory (CLT) have been theoretical trading partners since the 1990s. CLT was developed and proposed by drawing on early laboratory studies and feminist STS. These studies were said to have shown support for the importance of concrete thinking—a key concept of CLT—in scientific knowledge production and, therefore, in science education. Since then, CLT has become a dominant educational paradigm of technology design and development for classroom approaches to computer science and the maker movement. In the late 2000s and 2010s CLT began to lend support for what might be called the “making and doing” turn in STS. However, this loop between STS and CLT is rarely acknowledged, missing opportunities for STS to more directly contribute to educational research and practice.
August 2017
School of Humanities, Arts, and Social Sciences
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Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, Troy, NY
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