Educational Technology Research and Development
, Volume 62, Issue 1, pp 99121
First online:
Construction, categorization, and consensus: student generated computational artifacts as a context for disciplinary reflection
 Michelle Hoda WilkersonJerdeAffiliated withTufts University Email author
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There are increasing calls to prepare K12 students to use computational tools and principles when exploring scientific or mathematical phenomena. The purpose of this paper is to explore whether and how constructionist computersupported collaborative environments can explicitly engage students in this practice. The Categorizer is a Javascriptbased interactive gallery that allows members of a learning community to contribute computational artifacts they have constructed to a shared collection. Learners can then analyze the collection of artifacts, and sort them into userdefined categories. In a formative case study of the Categorizer for a fractal activity in three middle grade (ages 11–14) classrooms, there was evidence that participating students began to evaluate fractals based on structural and mathematical properties, and afterward could create algorithms that would generate fractals with particular area reduction rates. Further analysis revealed that students’ construction and categorization experiences could be better integrated by explicitly scaffolding discussion and negotiation of the categorization schemes they develop. This led to the development of a new module that enables teachers and students to explore points of agreement and disagreement across student categorization schemes. I conclude with a description of limitations of the study and environment, implications for the broader community, and future work.
Keywords
Computational thinking Constructionism Collaborative environments Middle school Disciplinary practices Mathematics education Title
 Construction, categorization, and consensus: student generated computational artifacts as a context for disciplinary reflection
 Journal

Educational Technology Research and Development
Volume 62, Issue 1 , pp 99121
 Cover Date
 201402
 DOI
 10.1007/s1142301393270
 Print ISSN
 10421629
 Online ISSN
 15566501
 Publisher
 Springer US
 Additional Links
 Topics
 Keywords

 Computational thinking
 Constructionism
 Collaborative environments
 Middle school
 Disciplinary practices
 Mathematics education
 Industry Sectors
 Authors
 Author Affiliations

 1. Tufts University, Medford, MA, USA