SIGCSE2014 Preview: Engaging Underrepresented Groups in High School Introductory Computing through Computational Remixing with EarSketch
EarSketch is an interesting environment that I got to demo for Jason Freeman and Brian Magerko at the Dagstuhl Livecoding conference. It’s Python programming that creates complex, layered music. The current version of EarSketch isn’t really livecoding (e.g., there’s a “compilation” step from program into digital audio workstation), but I got to see a demo of their new Web-based version which might be usable for live coding .
I got to see the preview talk and was blown away. The paper is about use in a 10 week programming unit in a high school course, with significant under-represented minority and female involvement. The evaluation results are stunning. The authenticity angle here is particularly interesting. In the preview talk, Jason talked about “authentic STEAM.” They have audio loops from real musicians, and involve hip-hop artists in the classroom. Students talk about how they value making music that sounds professional, with tools that professional musicians use.
In this paper, we describe a pilot study of EarSketch, a computational remixing approach to introductory computer science, in a formal academic computing course at the high school level. EarSketch, an integrated curriculum, Python API, digital audio workstation (DAW), audio loop library, and social sharing site, seeks to broaden participation in computing, particularly by traditionally underrepresented groups, through a thickly authentic learning environment that has personal and industry relevance in both computational and artistic domains. The pilot results show statistically significant gains in computing attitudes across multiple constructs, with particularly strong results for female and minority participants.