Teacher and student enactments of a transdisciplinary art-science-computing unit

Abstract

Transdisciplinary learning environments have potential to bring together the arts, sciences, and computing within schools. We investigate the student and teacher enactment of sensemaking practices that break down disciplinary silos. We describe a pedagogical approach, Luminous Science, where students make dynamic, computationally-rich artistic representations of data from a classroom garden. Then we present an analysis of students’ sensemaking practices used during the transdisciplinary unit in three cases of art, science and computing classrooms. Qualitative analysis of a student group and teachers’ curricular materials in each of these classrooms elucidates how teachers’ enactment choices, organization, and facilitation of the unit we co-designed with them facilitated opportunities for students’ transdisciplinary thinking and learning. We show that when teachers’ enactments supported increased computational complexity and ties between artifact and phenomenon, then students participated in deeper transdisciplinary sensemaking. We discuss the implications for the design of curricular materials and professional development to support effective organization and discourse practices by teachers in orchestrating transdisciplinary sensemaking.

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Notes

  1. 1.

    Boix-Mansilla’s definition for interdisciplinary is akin to our transdisciplinary definition but she does not provide a definition for transdisciplinary.

  2. 2.

    We use this term more broadly than is used in mathematics literature where it is used to describe recognition of patterns (Alexander 2016).

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Acknowledgements

The writing of this article was made possible in part a gift from Oracle. We thank the teachers and students who participated in this study, who were willing to try out new things, teach us about their personal and disciplinary perspectives, and figure out how to develop transdisciplinary learning environments with new and at times challenging tools.

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Appendices

Appendix A

Final codes for sensemaking practices.

See Table 8.

Table 8 Final codes for analyzing sensemaking practices students from their descriptions of their lanterns

Appendix B

Code for each focal group’s lantern.

See Figs. 12, 13, and 14.

Fig. 12
figure12

Lantern code for group W4. This program can also be viewed online at: https://bit.ly/3aOQk3X

Fig. 13
figure13

Lantern code for group M1b. This program can also be viewed online at: https://bit.ly/3aPY8m0

Fig. 14
figure14

Lantern code for group P7. This program can also be viewed online at: https://bit.ly/3d4Oeyl

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Finch, L., Moreno, C. & Shapiro, R.B. Teacher and student enactments of a transdisciplinary art-science-computing unit. Instr Sci (2020). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11251-020-09518-1

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Keywords

  • Transdisciplinary
  • Sensemaking
  • Art education
  • Computer science education
  • Science education
  • Educational innovation