Posts tagged ‘CS10K’
I was at the NSF CS10K Evaluators meeting earlier this summer, and we got to talk about important research questions. Someone suggested the issue of learning progressions. How do students move from Scratch or Alice or Blockly to Java or C++? One of the evaluators, whose background is entirely in education and evaluation, asked, “Professional programmers don’t use Scratch and Alice?” We explained what professional programmers really do. “Then why are we teaching Scratch and Alice, especially if we don’t know how the transfer works?!?”
The tension between what languages are “useful” (read: “we use them today in industry”) and what languages are helpful for learning has always existed in CS Ed. I’ve recommended the blog below to several people this summer, including reading the comments from the developers who push back — “Yeah, stop with Alice and teach real languages!” I agree with the post’s author, but I see that, even in the CS10K project, the notion that we should teach what’s vocationally useful is strong.
At the NSF CS10K Evaluators meeting, I got to wondering about a different question. Most of our evaluators come from science and math education projects, where you teach the way the world is. If you have trouble teaching students that F=ma, you better just find a new way to teach it. I told the evaluators that I hope their results inform the design of future programming languages. Computer science is a science of the artificial, I explained. If you find that mutable variables are hard to understand, we can provide programming languages without them. If the syntax of curly braces on blocks is too subtle for novices to parse (as I predict from past research findings), we can fix that, too. I got confused looks. The idea that the content and the medium could be changed is not something familiar to this audience. We have to figure out how to close that loop from the evaluators to the designers, because it’s too important an opportunity to base our language design for novices on empirical results.
It is a school’s job to churn out students who will be able to walk into a job in industry on day one and work in whatever language/paradigm is flavour du jour.
WRONG! We’re here to teach children the core concepts of Computer Science. Working on that basis to produce someone with employable skills is your job. Do you expect Chemistry students to walk out of school ready to begin work in a lab? Should we stop using Scratch as a teaching language because nobody programs with it in industry? Of course not, so please stop recommending that we should be teaching using Scala/JSON/whatever is currently flavour of the month.
Just posted by Jeff Forbes to the SIGCSE-Members list.
NSF has released a new solicitation relevant to CS education.
STEM-C Partnerships: Computing Education for the 21st Century (14-523)
The STEM-C Partnerships combines and advances the efforts of both the former Math and Science Partnership (MSP) and Computing Education for the 21st Century (CE21) programs. STEM-CP: CE21 modifies the earlier CE21 program by:
- Merging the previous Broadening Participation (BP) and Computing Education Research (CER) tracks into a single Broadening Participation and Education in Computing (BPEC) track focused on building an evidence base for student learning of computing fundamentals applicable to the elementary, middle, or high school levels;
- Requiring a Broadening Participation component for all proposals on the CS 10K track; and
- Adding a third track, STEM-C Partnerships Computer Science Education Expansion, that aims to expand the work of previously funded NSF MSP Partnerships to increase the number of qualified computer science teachers and the number of high schools with rigorous computer science courses.
Please review the solicitation for the requirements and goals of the three tracks.
The next deadline for proposals is March 18, 2014.
The University of Chicago has released their latest study on the state of CS Education in US high schools. This one is a survey of CS teachers around the country, and Baker Franke introduces the study on the CSTA Blog.
Two things stood out to me when I looked at survey results. First, computer science teachers, despite still reporting that they are the only CS teacher (or one of a few) in their community, reported feeling supported by their schools and administration. This was completely surprising to me. (Perhaps, it is the self-selecting nature of survey respondents, who are more likely to feel happy, satisfied and proud of the fact that they teach CS.) But, maybe this is evidence that the advocacy work of CSTA has been working and the shifting public view of computer science education has led to more schools supporting the teaching of computer science.
Second, we have a real problem with misconceptions about computer science, still, in 2013. And as the survey results show, as a community, we are still not on the same page about what computer science education is either. At the moment, the word “code” is gaining attention as the stuff students should learn with computers, and whatever stigma used to be attached to programming seems to be dissipating – which is good. But we have a long way to go in clarifying what a high-quality, rigorous computer science education is and that that includes more that just programming.
I’ve mentioned before how much we need schools of education to guarantee the future stability of computing education. The new CSTA report on certification makes the point better than I do.
I just wrote a Blog@CACM post explaining why we in CS need collaboration with schools of education. We don’t want to be in the business of certifying teachers. We certainly do not have the background to prepare teachers for a lifelong career in education. That’s what pre-service education faculty do.
How we get from here to there is an interesting question. Michelle Friend suggests that we start by finding (or getting hired) faculty in science and mathematics education who are interested in starting computing programs. Few schools would be willing to take the risk of establishing computing education programs or departments today. They might exist one day, but they’ll probably grow out of math or science ed — just as many CS departments grew out of math or science or engineering roots.
Given that (in the US) we lose close to 50% of our STEM teachers within the first five years of teaching, we have to establish reliable production of CS teachers, if we don’t want CS10K to be only CS5K five years later. To establish that reliable production, we need schools of education.
The scientific community must also do the same, by convincing the public that it is worth spending tax dollars on research. Scientists: this isn’t someone else’s job – this is your job, starting immediately. If you personally hope to receive government research funds in the future, public engagement is now part of your job description. And if you and your colleagues don’t convincingly make the case to the public that your discipline should be funded, well then it won’t be. Without a public broadly supportive of funding science, it is all too easy for politicians looking for programs to cut to single out esoteric-sounding research programs as an excuse to further slash science funding.
The National Council on Teacher Quality and US News and World Report have released a state-by-state report on teacher preparation — and it’s pretty dismal. I’ve copied some of the top “take-aways” below.
In countries where students outperform the U.S., teacher prep schools recruit candidates from the top third of the college-going population. The Review found only one in four U.S. programs restricts admissions to even the top half of the college-going population.
A large majority of programs (71 percent) are not providing elementary teacher candidates with practical, research-based training in reading instruction methods that could reduce the current rate of reading failure (30 percent) to less than 10 percent of the student population.
Only 11 percent of elementary programs and 47 percent of secondary programs are providing adequate content preparation for teachers in the subjects they will teach.
There is some significant critique of the NCTQ study, particularly on its methodology. This is from Diane Ravitch’s blog:
NCTQ is not a professional association. It did not make site visits. It made its harsh judgments by reviewing course syllabi and catalogs. The criteria that it rated as most important was the institution’s fidelity to the Common Core standards.
As Rutgers’ Bruce Baker pointed out in his response, NCTQ boasts of its regard for teachers but its review of the nation’s teacher-training institutions says nothing about faculty. They don’t matter. They are irrelevant. All that matters is what is in the course catalog.
I’d rather see the NCTQ study as pointing out problems for computing education programs to avoid. Given the results coming in from the UChicago Landscape study, I doubt if we’re doing much better now in computer science. From a positive perspective, the best practices identified in the NCTQ report can inform what we do in computing education teacher professional development. As Jeanne Century said at SIGCSE this last year, one advantage we have is that we’re starting from a pretty much clean slate — there’s not much out there. We can try to build it right from the start.
The piece linked below is about why Teach for America should fold, but the argument being made is the same for why TEALS is not a useful strategy for the long-term health of computing education in the United States. We need to build up our corps of veteran computer science teachers. Using professional IT workers as stop-gap measures means that there’s no incentive to develop those veteran teachers, and means that we’re not spending our efforts in teacher professional development that will pay off over the long-term.
The other problem is the wasted investment a school makes in a teacher who leaves after just a few years. Sadly, I’m a poster child for this. I remember my last day at my school in Colorado, as I made the rounds saying goodbye to veteran teachers, my friends and colleagues who had provided me such crucial support and mentorship. As I talked of my plans for law school in Chicago, and they bade me best wishes, I felt an overwhelming wave of guilt. Their time and energy spent making me a better teacher – and I was massively better on that day compared to my first – was for naught. The previous summer I had spent a week of training, paid for by my school, to learn to teach pre–Advanced Placement classes. I taught the class for a year; presumably, I thought, someone else would have to receive the same training – or, worse, someone else would not receive the same training. All that work on classroom management and understanding of the curriculum, all the support in connecting with students and writing lesson – it would all have to begin again with a new teacher.
Congratulations to Owen Astrachan and Amy Briggs for achieving the goal of CS:Principles being declared “AP.” This is going to be important for attracting teachers to take CS:Principles professional development.
To help ensure that more high school students are prepared to pursue postsecondary education in computer science, the National Science Foundation (NSF) is making a four-year, $5.2 million grant to the College Board’s Advanced Placement Program® (AP®) to fund the creation of AP Computer Science Principles (AP CSP).
Barbara Ericson just found out that several teachers have dropped out from a professional development workshop that we’re offering next week. This means that we have some (limited) funding for travel available, and hotel rooms already booked, so we’re trying to get the word out broadly to fill those (very last minute) slots. Below is the message that she sent to teachers in Georgia. We’ll take teachers from other states as well.
The workshop is on CS Principles Big Ideas from June 17-21st at Georgia Tech. Rebecca Dovi is leading this workshop. She is one of the CS:Principles pilot teachers. She has created many interesting activities for teaching CS Principles and will be sharing those activities. See http://supercomputerscience.blogspot.com for her blog.
We still have hotel rooms available for attendees. We pay for parking and lunch for all attendees. We have limited funds to reimburse for travel as well. You can register at http://www.surveymonkey.com/s/CSP2013-BigIdeas
For more information on the workshop, see http://coweb.cc.gatech.edu/ice-gt/2175
This caught my eye as something that we really need to push computing education. For CS10K to be successful, we need a mesh of education research with public policy work. That’s what ECEP is about. In particular, this kind of multiple stakeholders work is what I think that the U. Chicago Landscape Study is pointing toward.
“Design-Based Implementation Research applies design-based perspectives and methods to address and study problems of implementation…DBIR challenges education researchers to break down barriers between sub-disciplines of educational research that isolate those who design and study innovations within classrooms from those who study the diffusion of innovations.”
From the Introduction to the forthcoming NSSE Yearbook, Design-Based Implementation Research: Theories, methods, and exemplars.
This web site presents resources related to an emerging model of research and development called Design-Based Implementation Research (DBIR). DBIR has four key principles:
- a focus on persistent problems of practice from multiple stakeholders’ perspectives
- a commitment to iterative, collaborative design
- a concern with developing theory related to both classroom learning and implementation through systematic inquiry
- a concern with developing capacity for sustaining change in systems
I just did a Blog@CACM post on my experiences at three meetings over the last two weeks, learning about efforts to get computing into primary and secondary schools in two countries (Denmark and England) and in two US states (South Carolina and Maryland).
Here are those four big lessons (with more detail in the post):
- It’s easier to have something in place and then improve it, than to convince others that computing should be squeezed in.
- Industry voices matter.
- Public policy support goes a long way.
- Economics isn’t the only argument.
I’ll be traveling to Denmark with Barbara Ericson on May 10 to attend a conference at Aarhus University on their new computer science curriculum. Michael Caspersen invited us out. Simon Peyton-Jones of the Computing At Schools effort in the United Kingdom will be speaking as well. I’m copy-pasting the program (translated from Danish) to give you a sense of what it’s all about. It’s an exciting opportunity, and I’m looking forward to learning more about the efforts to move computing into primary and secondary education in Denmark and the UK.
The purpose of the conference is to establish support for our efforts by raising political awareness at all levels of decision making in our society related to teaching computing in school (parliament, regional and city councils, high school principals, high school teachers, deans, chairs and professors in computing departments, IT organizations, journalists, etc.).
09.30 Registration and coffee
- exhibition of student projects opens
- Peter Hesseldahl (moderator)
10.15 Digital literacy: creative and critical innovation — three perspectives
- Michael: Insight and vision through computing
- Jacob (high school teacher): Computing — a creative, critical and constructive subject
- Susanne: Why does society need digital literacy?
11.45 Digital literacy in an international perspective
- Mark: Why everyone will need digital literacy in their life
- Simon: Digital literady: Why every child should learn computing from primary school onwards
13.15 Panel: On the importance of digital literacy for high school students
- Christine Antorini, Minister of Children and Education
- Morten Østergaard, Minister of Science, Innovation and Higher Education
- Morten Bangsgaard, CEO, The Danish IT Industry Association (ITB)
- Anne Frausing, Principal and representative for the High School Principal’s Association
- Gitte Møldrup, Managing Director, IT-VEST — Networking Universities
15.00 Simon: Computing at School: How the UK is radically reshaping its curriculum for the 21st century
15.25 Mark: CS10K: Providing access to computing education across the US
16.00 End of plenary session
16.30 Exhibition of student projects ends
At first, Google contacted us to find existing CS teachers to be part of their new teaching fellows program, but they’ve just opened it up to new grads as well.
Google is searching for talented (STEM) Science, Technology, Engineering or Math teachers to join a 2-year post-graduate program designed to grow leaders in computer science education. The program targets new graduates passionate about the future of computer science education. Applications are being accepted on a rolling basis for a two-year program that begins in June 2013. Applicants must be able to commit to the entire two years. As a part of the practicum, you will be working with thought leaders in education to learn the newest techniques and programs for computer science pedagogy, implementing programs with area schools and students, and creating your own innovative approaches to student learning. You can apply for the position and find more details about the program on this website. Please direct any questions you might have to TeachCS@google.com.
The role: Computer Science Teaching Fellows, New Grad 2013
• Bachelor’s degree in computer science or related field
• Some form of teaching or instruction experience (e.g., teaching assistant, tutor)
• Able to commit to a 2-year program and start June 2013
• Willing to relocate to/within South Carolina
The ACM journal Transactions on Computing Education is going to have a special issue devoted to Computer Science Education in K-12 Schools. Well worth exploring.
Recent activities in several countries, for example in the USA, the United Kingdom, New Zealand and South Korea, show a growing awareness of the importance of rigorous computer science education (CSE) for a successful, self-responsive and self-deciding life in the modern world. Consequently, serious efforts are made to introduce or to improve CSE in schools that will be followed by other countries, as we hope. Yet, for any country that wants to improve CSE in schools, it would be advisable to learn from the experiences that were made somewhere else. Nevertheless, those experiences were gathered under preconditions and circumstances that usually differ strongly from country to country. Unfortunately, the short format of conventional scientific papers prevents most reports about such experiences from covering all relevant aspects of the respective context. To produce relief, this Special Issue of TOCE aims to collect extensive, detailed case studies that discuss as many relevant aspects as possible, for example regarding the category system that was proposed in 2011 by the ITiCSE Working Group about Informatics in Secondary Education .
New Zealand, Denmark, Israel, Computing at Schools England, and CS10K here in the US — there is a growing movement to improve computing education at the national level. Wales just announced a large investment to improve computing education there, too.
Computer science touches upon all three of my education priorities: literacy, numeracy and bridging the gap. It equips learners with the problem-solving skills so important in life and work.
The value of computational thinking, problem-solving skills and information literacy is huge, across all subjects in the curriculum. I therefore believe that every child should have the opportunity to learn concepts and principles from computer science.
Indeed, computing is a high priority area for growth in Wales. The future supply and demand for science, technology and mathematics graduates is essential if Wales is to compete in the global economy.
It is therefore vitally important that every child in Wales has the opportunity to study computer science between the ages of 11-16.