Instructional supports for students with disabilities in K-5 computing: Findings from a cross-case analysis

Melinda R. Snodgrass, Maya Israel, George C. Reese

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


As computer programming and computational thinking (CT) become more integrated into K-12 instruction, content teachers and special educators need to understand how to provide instructional supports to a wide range of learners, including students with disabilities. This cross-case analysis study examined the supports that two students with disabilities, who were initially disengaged during computing activities, received during computing instruction. Data revealed that students' support needs during computing activities were not CT-specific. Rather, supports specific to these students' needs that were successful in other educational areas were also successful and sufficient in CT. Although additional studies would need to be conducted to ascertain the transferability of these findings to other contexts and students, our results contribute evidence that students with disabilities can and should participate in CT and be provided with the supports they need, just as in all other areas of the curriculum. We present a framework for evaluating student engagement to identify student-specific supports and, when needed, refine the emerging K-12 CT pedagogy to facilitate full participation of all students. We then offer a list of four implications for practice based on the findings.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1-17
Number of pages17
JournalComputers and Education
StatePublished - Sep 1 2016


  • Pedagogy
  • Students with disabilities
  • Supports
  • Universal design for learning

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Computer Science(all)
  • Education


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