Categorizer Case Study

The article reports on a formative study of the first version of The Categorizer, including an overview of student use data and an in-depth case study of one students' interactions with the tool. Based on those findings, we revised the tool to help support students' conversation around themes that arise from their collective work, and developed some ideas for activity structures that could also support those conversations. We're excited to try out these new revisions moving forward! Let us know if you'd like to get involved.

In addition to the official link to the Springer article, we've included a preprint PDF for download here. Since it's a preprint, Figure 6 is not quite right... so you can access a corrected Figure 6 here!


There are increasing calls to prepare K-12 students to use computational tools and principles when exploring scientific or mathematical phenomena. The purpose of this paper is to explore whether and how constructionist computer-supported collaborative environments can explicitly engage students in this practice. The Categorizer is a Javascript-based interactive gallery that allows members of a learning community to contribute computational artifacts they have constructed to a shared collection. Learners can analyze the collection of artifacts, sort them into user-defined categories, and explore points of agreement and disagreement across aggregated categorization schemes. In a formative case study of the Categorizer for a fractal activity in three middle grades (ages 11-14) classrooms, there was evidence that participating students began to evaluate fractals based on structural and mathematical properties, and afterward could create algorithms that would generate fractals with particular area reduction rates, based on log data pre-post assessments. Further analysis revealed ways in which students' construction and categorization experiences can be better integrated. This analysis informed the development of a new module that enables teachers and students to identify points of agreement and disagreement across student categorization schemes, to encourage investigation and argumentation. I conclude with a description of limitations of the study and environment, implications for the broader community, and future work.


Wilkerson-Jerde, M. H. (2013). Construction, categorization, and consensus: student generated computational artifacts as a context for disciplinary reflection. Educational Technology Research & Development. doi: 10.1007/s11423-013-9327-0.

More About the Categorizer Project

The Categorizer is a Javascript-based interactive gallery where learners can share, analyze, and organize computational artifacts contributed by fellow community members.

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