Frequently Asked Questions

Secondary CS Endorsement Program

Q: What happens during this program?

All participants will complete course work online through the University of Northern Iowa. The full program takes just over 18 months. The 2023-2024 cohort will begin on June 12, 2023 and wrap up mid-December of 2024. The program will consist of the following courses:

  • Foundational Concepts of Computer Science (Summer 2023)
  • Fundamentals of Programming (Fall 2023)
  • Teaching and Learning Programming (Spring 2024)
  • Methods of Computer Science (Summer 2024)
  • Data Structures and Algorithms (Fall 2024)

Completion of all five courses will make participants eligible for Iowa’s secondary (5-12) computer science endorsement.

Additionally, most participants will participate in 15-20 total regional, in person Community of Practice (CoP) meetups throughout the duration of the endorsement program (3-4 per course).

Q: How much work is this program?

A: Each course is the equivalent of a semester-long, graduate course. UNI policy states that such a course should require ~150 hours of effort to complete. Participants should expect to spend 15-20 hours per week for summer courses and 8-12 hours per week for school-year-based courses. The actual number of hours will vary from week to week and from student to student depending on individual backgrounds, experiences, and interests in the current topic.

Q: How much does the program cost?

A: For the cohorts covered by the current NSF Grant, tuition and fees are set at $265 per course. Additionally, textbooks and materials are expected to cost approximately $250 over the entire program. However, approximately 25 teachers per AEA cohort will receive scholarships which will reimburse tuition and fees for the length of the program.

Q: Is this program appropriate for elementary educators/librarians?

A: The current program is designed for teachers working with secondary students and was designed using the CSTA CS standards at Levels 2, 3a, and 3b. The course sequence has been approved by the Iowa BOEE as a pathway to earn Iowa Endorsement #278, 5-12 Computer Science.

While teachers at all levels are welcome to participate in the program, those who teach at the elementary level should recognize that the material in these courses will be at a much deeper level than appropriate for elementary students. The program will provide a solid foundation in middle school and high school computer science. In fact, educators who currently hold an elementary license may, with an additional and separately arranged practicum, use this program to become eligible to teach computer science at the secondary level.

Q: What is a Community of Practice and what does it mean to me during this program?

  • A community of practice (CoP) is a group of people who share a common concern, a set of problems, or an interest in a topic and who come together to fulfill both individual and group goals.
  • Communities of practice often focus on sharing best practices and creating new knowledge to advance a domain of professional practice. Interaction on an ongoing basis is an important part of this.
  • Many communities of practice rely on face-to-face meetings as well as web-based collaborative environments to communicate, connect and conduct community activities. [Source: communtyofpractice.ca]

In relation to this program, each Community of Practice will consist of teachers participating from a particular geographical region, based at and linked to a particular AEA. Community of Practice face-to-face meetups will occur 3-4 times per course. Each CoP meetup will be approximately a half day in length. Summer 2023 CoP meetups will occur on Friday mornings (June 23, July 7, July 21, August 4). Fall 2023 meetups will occur on Saturday mornings with dates yet to be determined.

Q: What if I can’t attend a particular Community of Practice Meetup?

A: We understand that you are working professionals and many of you have active families. As such, we expect that occasional conflicts with scheduled meetups will occur. However, we feel that these meetings are incredibly beneficial and that frequently missing them robs you, and your peers, of the full experience. Frequent absences may result in the withdrawal of your scholarship for future courses.

Q: I want to participate in the program, but there isn’t a CoP being offered through my AEA. What can I do?

A: There are three options for educators in this situation.

  • Apply to participate in a CoP in a nearby AEA. Depending on where you live it may be possible for you to drive to one of the other AEAs in order to participate. While this requires commitment on your part, we feel it gives you the best overall experience. Participants who elect this option will be eligible for full tuition scholarships in the program.
  • Apply to participate in the “virtual only” section. We recognize that not everyone will live within driving distance of a participating AEA. Additionally, we recognize that not everyone will have the schedule ability to participate in the CoP program. We don’t want to deny access to the coursework for individuals in these situations. We will schedule a section for educators who cannot participate in a “local” CoP. Unfortunately, due to the nature of our funding from the NSF, these participants will not be eligible for scholarships.
  • Request that a CoP be held at your AEA in the future. At this time, we are taking applications for cohorts in the 2023-2024 offering of our program. We expect to be able to support at least six additional cohorts in the next offering (June 2024-December 2025). While we can’t promise that every AEA will be able to host a cohort during the two rounds of offerings funded by our NSF grant, it is our hope to make the cohorts as widely accessible to as many educators as possible. If enough participants from your AEA express interest in participating in a future cohort, we will make an honest effort to make one happen!

For additional information please contact Dr. Ben Schafer at schafer@cs.uni.edu or 319-273-2187.