Understanding Blueprint Student Outcomes

Takeaways

  • Blueprint student outcomes focus on developing computationally literate citizens through creative computing.
  • A Blueprint student outcome is composed of one CS Perspective, one CS Practice and one CS Concept.
  • The Perspective sets the goals and constraints of the outcome, the Practice is the skill students are engaging in within those constraints, and the Concept is the idea that students are applying to their  actions.

Overview

The student outcomes on the NYC CS4All Blueprint provide guidance for curriculum developers and educators seeking to ensure all students graduate as computationally literate citizens. They are organized by CS perspectives which map to each grade band. For each grade band, there are 15 student outcomes, one for each combination of Practice and Concept. A computer science unit is meaningful if its student outcomes meet the following criteria:

  • A Perspective aligned to students' grade level
  • At least one outcome from each Practice
  • At least one outcome from three Concepts
  • Outcomes that are level four of Webb’s Depth of Knowledge

By mapping grade band outcomes to perspectives, the outcomes are driven by how students are asked to practice concepts as opposed to driven by students conceptual understanding. The CS education team believes that this approach puts them on track to achieve a Citizen perspective of CS, that of a computationally literate citizen, by high school. The table below compares Blueprint student outcomes vs Computer Science Teachers Association (CSTA) standards.

Comparing Algorithms Student Outcomes

Grade Band

Blueprint

Computer Science Teachers Association (CSTA)

K-2

Plan, create/use, & test a set of instructions that completes a concrete task.

Model daily processes by creating and following algorithms to complete tasks.

3-5

Plan, create/use, & test a program that uses control flow to express an idea.

Compare and refine multiple algorithms for the same task and determine which is the most appropriate.

The Blueprint student outcomes on algorithms for these two grade bands asks students to apply the ideas behind algorithms, instructions and control flow respectively, in different ways, a concrete and physical task and expression of an idea.

On the other hand, while the CSTA standard and Blueprint outcome for K-2 are essentially the same, daily processes are a subset of concrete tasks, the 3-5 CSTA standard asks students to compare multiple algorithms based on “appropriateness”. To determine which of multiple algorithms that all complete the same task is appropriate requires a detailed study of the structure of the algorithms. The Blueprint student outcomes are concerned with students applying CS concepts and practices instead of engaging in detailed study of each concept.

Composition of Student Outcomes

Each student outcome is a combination of a Perspective, Practice and Concept.

Perspective

The Perspective defines both the goal and constraints of the student outcomes. For example Explorer students, experiencing CS for the first time, learn computing through activities or labs to give them a chance to gain confidence with CS.

The goal is to build confidence. Students learning CS for the first time need to be challenged with rigorous CS while keeping the barrier to entry low so that students see how CS can be part of their identity or their lives.

The constraint for the Explorer outcomes are activities or labs. We refer to activities as guided work where all students follow a similar process and create a similar artifact. These constraints keep the barrier to entry low without overly reducing the scope of the types of work in which students can engage.

Practice

Each CS Practice represents a set of skills that are important to computer science and map well to STEM skills in general. Based on input from the 2016-17 Blueprint teacher fellows the skills described in each Practice are structured by Webb’s Depth of Knowledge(DOK). The goals are to clearly communicate to educators the level of thinking and scaffolding required to achieve each outcome.

For example, the Analyzing practice asks Explorer students to examine and interpret computing artifacts. “Examine” is a level 2 DOK verb while “interpret” can be a level 2 or level 3 verb depending on the context. To achieve a level 2 of outcome such as interpreting a computing artifact, curricula and educators must ensure students start at level 1, describing, scaffold to level 2, examining, and finally interpreting.

Concept

There are five CS Concepts that represent a survey of high-level computer science topics. Each Concept represents a related area of ideas, or subconcepts, that generally align to the national K-12 CS Framework around what comprises computer science learning at the K-2, 3-5, 6-8, and 9-12 grade bands.

Given the scope of computer science, each subconcept itself represents a related group of ideas. The Perspective and Practice help us to focus in on specific aspects of each subconcept to study. For example when Explorers prototype the Control Flow subconcept of Algorithms, they focus on the idea that algorithms are like instructions that need to have a clear order, or sequence, and should be complete. This is in contrast, Citizens prototyping the Control Flow subconcept of Algorithms they focus on how they can design algorithms that consider the needs, history, and constraints of their communities.

Putting it all together

Let’s consider how these three components come together into a student outcome by breaking one down.

Creator, Analyzing, Algorithms Outcome: Interpret how control flow can be used to improve instructions.

  • Perspective: Creators express their own ideas, thoughts, or interests with computing. Students use control flow to create instructions with unique outcomes based on their own ideas through different types of branching like if-statements and loops.
  • Practice: Interpreting details and patterns of a computing application or concepts, such as if-statements and loops, is a part of the analyzing practice. Students interpreting control flow will describe the difference between linear versus branching instructions, discuss characteristics of how and when to apply branching to instructions, and test out their ideas by explaining them to a peer, physically acting them out, or implementing them in code.
  • Concept: Control flow is an Algorithms subconcept. Control flow is used in algorithms to make decisions about which order to do things. Interpreting instructions with control flow is a stepping stone to towards understanding the composition and power of algorithms. Students develop an understanding of how to find patterns and characteristics in instructions and how control flow can help them take advantage of those patterns. Students may also begin to see control flow in technology they use daily - such as “I can unlock my phone, when my password is correct”.
  • Depth of Knowledge: This outcome is a level 3 of Webb’s Depth of Knowledge. Students investigate multi-step procedures and use the concept of control flow to interpret how a set of instructions might be express an idea.

Connecting Back to Meaningful CS Units

A computer science unit is meaningful if its student outcomes meet the following criteria:

  • A Perspective aligned to students' grade level
  • At least one outcome from each Practice
  • At least one outcome from three Concepts
  • Outcomes that are level four of Webb’s Depth of Knowledge

Learn more about how student outcomes are used in meaningful CS units, click here.