News Release

Researchers receive funding for partnership to implement inclusive computer science model of professional development

Grant and Award Announcement

George Mason University

Amy Hutchison, Professor, Literacy and Reading, Anna S. Evmenova, Professor, Special Education and disAbility Research, Erdogan Kaya, Assistant Professor of Education, Jeff Offutt, Professor, Computer Science, Kelley Regan, Professor, Special Education and disability Research, and Boris Gafurov, Assistant Professor, Special Education, received funding from the National Science Foundation for: "A Partnership to Implement the Inclusive Computer Science Model of Professional Development and a Digital Platform for PK-6 Computer Science teaching for Students with Disabilities."

Via this project, faculty from Mason, Old Dominion University, and Fairfax County Public Schools proposed a medium Researcher-Practitioner Partnership (RPP) for the PreK-8 Strand of the Computer Science for All program. This RPP team will undertake a three-year project to support teachers and students in a large school division to integrate computer science (CS) and computational thinking (CT) into grades PK-6 using a digital tool they developed called the Digital Effective Platform for Computational Thinking and Computer Science (DECPICT-CS).

This proposed work addresses the following guiding question: What conditions are necessary for the Inclusive Computer Science (ICS) Model of professional development (PD) to be effectively implemented on a district-wide scale to increase and sustain computer science instruction and interest for all students, particularly those with high-incidence disabilities in PK-6 inclusive classrooms? 

The project will use the NSF-funded ICS Model of PD, alongside the partnering school division’s current approaches to curriculum development, to reform and scale how they prepare teachers to develop and implement computer science curricula, particularly for students with high-incidence disabilities. For the purpose of this proposal, students with high-incidence disabilities (HID) include students with learning disabilities, emotional-behavioral disorders, mild intellectual disabilities, high-functioning autism, or attention-deficit hyperactivity disorders. 

As part of the ICS Model of PD, teachers will be introduced to new approaches for supporting students with disabilities in learning computer science, including the researchers’ newly developed, universally designed tool called the Digital Effective Platform for Inclusive Computational Thinking and Computer Science (DEPICT-CS).

The researchers hope that this project will improve teachers’ abilities to integrate computer science into elementary school instruction for all students, while also improving students’ interest in computer science.

The researchers received $999,985 from NSF for this project. Funding began in August 2021 and will end in late July 2024.


About George Mason University

George Mason University is Virginia's largest public research university. Located near Washington, D.C., Mason enrolls 38,000 students from 130 countries and all 50 states. Mason has grown rapidly over the last half-century and is recognized for its innovation and entrepreneurship, remarkable diversity and commitment to accessibility. Learn more at

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