Semester of Graduation

Fall 2019

Degree

Master of Natural Sciences (MNS)

Document Type

Thesis

Abstract

The Louisiana Workforce Commission predicts a 33.6% increase in computer science and mathematical occupations by 2022 and the Bureau of Labor Statistics foresees a 16% increase in computer scientists from 2018-2028. Despite these opportunities for job and financial security, the number of Louisiana students enrolled in a nationally accredited computing course is less than 1%, compared to national leaders California and Texas which have 3% and 3.8% of students respectively. Furthermore, the international assessments of mathematical literacy, PISA and TIMMS, both report American students continue to fall further behind their international peers in mathematics achievement.

This thesis rejects these statistics as definitive and attempts to contribute to an expansion of the mathematical libraries of a computational thinking course that a teacher could use to support a standards-based Algebra I course. The framework presented in this thesis supports the Louisiana State University (LSU) STEM Pathway course entitled Introduction to Computational Thinking (ICT). The course introduces students to a systematic problem-solving approach in which they learn to solve problems computationally, that is, through abstraction, decomposition, and pattern recognition. ICT utilizes the functional programming language Haskell in the educational programming environment “CodeWorld” in order to create pictures and animations.

Jean Piaget, the great child cognitive development psychologist, proclaimed “The goal of intellectual education is not to know how to repeat or retain ready-made truths”; rather, one becomes educated by “learning to master the truth by oneself” (Piaget, 1973). Because of the graphical outputs that one can easily code in CodeWorld, students have the ability to explore an algebraic concept with a computer programmed model, alongside the textbook’s given table, equation and graph. This thesis provides additional projects for supporting the Algebra I curriculum through LSU’s ICT course and an overview of the history of computing with an emphasis on highlighting some of the attempts that were undertaken within the past 80 years to use computational thinking and programming to support problem solving across disciplines, including the humanities, math and sciences.

Committee Chair

Neubrander, Frank

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