St. Scholastica is one of only three programs in the nation partnering with Google to address a critical shortage of computer science (CS) teachers.
Faculty members at St. Scholastica will use grant funding from Google to integrate CS education into the entire curriculum for students in the College's teacher education programs. Faculty will be trained to incorporate computational thinking and computer science.
"The lack of qualified CS teachers consistently ranks as a top reason why schools do not offer CS classes," said Hai Hong of Google's CS Education Team. "Working with pre-service preparation programs to support the next generation of CS teachers is a critical step to addressing the growing demand for CS education."
The project will be implemented by a team of St. Scholastica faculty members who are experienced in seeking innovative solutions to the issue of CS teacher shortages.
"Computational thinking is a new literacy," said Chery Takkunen Lucarelli, professor of education and grant principal investigator. "We want it embedded in the teacher candidate experience. Every teacher will have a foundation in computational thinking.
"Our students are going to have a unique set of skills. Minnesota is not teaching computer science very well, but with this new knowledge, our students can go out into the schools and become change agents."
She added that the program aligns well with St. Scholastica's mission of inclusivity.
"We're learning about how we can broaden participation, encourage and retain underrepresented students in the field," Lucarelli said. "That's really important to us and to Google."
Lucarelli and Jen Rosato, assistant professor of computer information systems, are leaders in this field, having previously received highly competitive grants through a funding program at Google called CS4HS - Computer Science for High Schools. The funding was used to show educators how to teach computer science principles through mobile app development. That program was also awarded grant funds from the National Science Foundation.
The other participating colleges are the University of California at Irvine, the University of Texas at Austin, and Huston-Tillotson University. UTA and HTU are collaborating on the effort.
About Google: Google creates products to increase access to opportunities for every student, break down barriers and empower people through technology. To help reach these goals, Google works to inspire young people around the world not just to use technology but to create it. More information on Google's computer science education efforts is available at g.co/csedu.