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Assistant Professor Dan Hoffman, of the College of Education (COE) Department of Learning Design and Technology (LTEC), was awarded nearly $1 million from the National Science Foundation (NSF).

Dan Hoffman
Dan Hoffman

The aim of his three-year grant program, Advancing Research and Practice in Culturally-Relevant Computing, is to understand the role of culturally-relevant computing in providing local educators the preparation needed to integrate computer science (CS) into their teaching.

“This is an opportunity to collaborate with teachers in ways that open up the world of CS while simultaneously promoting and sustaining Hawaiʻi’s unique place, history, culture, and language,” Hoffman said. “By adopting an interdisciplinary stance, we hope to move beyond brief, standardized CS experiences toward something deeper and more personally relevant for learners.”

Co-directors of the program include LTEC Associate Professors, Peter Leong and Seungoh Paek, and Kamakakūokalani Center for Hawaiian Studies Associate Specialist Rochelle Ka’aloa.

Peter Leong
Peter Leong

Leong stated, “For me, this grant represents our commitment to bringing CS education to more elementary students in Hawaiʻi by making it culturally relevant to our keiki. Traditionally, most STEM topics have been taught from a western culture perspective, making it more difficult for Native Hawaiian and Pacific Island students to relate.”

A partnership between the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa and the Hawaiʻi State Department of Education (HIDOE), the project will provide 230 elementary educators professional development in how to promote CS outcomes and valued culture-based outcomes. In addition to providing resources and training to teachers, the project will explore how culturally-relevant, sustaining pedagogy can be leveraged to increase diversity, equity, and inclusion in STEM-related fields more broadly.

Seungoh Paek
Seungoh Paek

“This is truly interdisciplinary work rooted in a researcher-practitioner partnership between the COE and the HIDOE,” Paek shared. “We can’t wait to get started on this unique collaborative endeavor.”

Rochelle Ka'aloa
Rochelle Ka’aloa

“As a Native Hawaiian educator, who has spent over 20 years advocating through my teaching and research for increased access and opportunities for technology use by our haumana to tell their stories and dream their futures, this grant provides a rich opportunity to open spaces through culturally-relevant pedagogy to increase diversity and equity in student experiences in CS education,” Ka’aloa shared.

The Advancing Research and Practice in Culturally-Relevant Computing project team acknowledged the COE’s Mike Menchaca, Kitty Hino, Val Shearer, and Keith Tokuda for their ongoing support as well as the HIDOE’s Brett Tanaka and Computer Science Working Group for their commitment to high quality Computer Science education in Hawaiʻi.

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