Posts tagged ‘context’

Impact of Robots on CS1 retention: Mixed but promising

This blog post at Technology Review caught my eye. The post itself is disappointing.  They make claims (like the below) that are NOT made by the paper.  The figure is right, but the claim is too strong.

The paper actually does a really good job of making the claim carefully.  ONE of the semesters where they used the robots had a dramatic rise in retention rates, but not another. Comparing the study YEAR to previous years doesn’t show a significant difference in retention rate.  However, that one semester is promising and well worth continued exploration.

The results were profound: retention rates for the 2009 computer science classes in which the Finch was used shown below, in red increased by 25 percent.

via Technology Review: Blogs: Guest Blog: Robots Make Computer Science Fun Again.

July 20, 2010 at 11:10 am Leave a comment

Next great CS1 Context: Statistics

An article in today’s New York Times says, “For Today’s Graduate, Just One Word: Statistics.” Hal Varian is quoted saying, “I keep saying that the sexy job in the next 10 years will be statisticians. And I’m not kidding.”  I’ve heard that the Statistics Advanced Placement exam is among the fastest growing.

I really want to get back to my Computational Freakonomics class one day. Statistics would make a great context for learning computing.

  • There are such great languages for playing with data, like R and SciPy.
  • It’s useful and offers the opportunity to work on data that students care about.
  • It can easily be applied to a student’s future degree and career.
  • It’s the use of computing that makes statistics relevant.  Most statistics classes I’ve taken are boring because you work with toy datasets with maybe a dozen points.  That’s about the limit of student attention when you’re working with paper-and-pencil or calculator computations.  But when you bring in real computation, you can work with authentic datasets (real NASDAQ data on stocks, real United Nations data on nations) of relatively large size.  Now a student can ask questions that she is interested in knowing the answer to.

September 10, 2009 at 10:05 pm 9 comments


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