Schanzer, E., Fisler, K., Krishnamurthi, S., & Felleisen, M. (2015, February). Transferring skills at solving word problems from computing to algebra through Bootstrap. In Proceedings of the 46th ACM Technical symposium on computer science education (pp. 616-621). ACM.


Type: Empirical

Purpose: "This paper describes Bootstrap, an earlyprogramming curriculum that is designed to teach key algebra topics as students build their own videogames. We discuss the curriculum, explain how it aligns with algebra, and present initial data showing student performance gains on standard algebra problems after completing Bootstrap" (p. 1).

Findings: "Our assessment finds that Bootstrap helps students gain proficiency in certain topics in algebra. Bootstrap also helps mathematics teachers see potential connections between algebra and (some approaches to) computer science" (p. 4). "... on student performance on questions related to function application and function composition... On the per-student two-tailed t-tests, gains were significant at ranges from .003 for the Florida-1 class to 2.84e11 for the spring Massachusetts class" (p. 5). "... on word problems... On the per-student two-tailed t-tests, gains were significant at ranges from .01 for the Florida-2 class to 8.84e8 for the fall Massachusetts class" (p. 5). "The control group did not see significant gains in either function composition or word problems (word-problem scores actually dropped noticeably for this group; the teacher hypothesized that the students were less motivated for the test)" (p. 5).



Sample Size: 1000

Participant Type: Students and teachers. "We present data from a total of six classes: two from the school in Massachusetts, three from the school in Florida (one a control group that had not taken Bootstrap, labeled “Cntrl” in the tables), and one from the school in Illinois" (p. 4).

Notes: Sample size is actually 1000+ students and 143 teachers. "To date, we have offered training workshops to hundreds of teachers, most of whom are math teachers looking for ways to help students master and appreciate mathematics. Many work with students who typically struggle with math; many provide anecdotal comments about student enthusiasm and engagement in math following Bootstrap. Several thousand students have completed the curriculum, some in formal classrooms and some in after-school settings" (p. 4).