Posts tagged ‘curriculum’

The ACM/IEEE 2013 CS Curriculum is released (in the nick of time!)

Posted by Mehran Sahami to the SIGCSE members list. Congratulations to the team for finishing it in time.

Dear Colleagues,

We are delighted to announce the release of the ACM/IEEE-CS Computer Science
Curricula 2013 (CS2013) Final Report. The report is available at the CS2013
website (http://cs2013.org) or directly at:
http://cs2013.org/final-draft/CS2013-final-report.pdf
(The report will also soon be posted at the ACM website as well as at
doi.org.)

The CS2013 Final Report contains guidance for undergraduate programs in
computer science, including a revised Body of Knowledge, over 80 course
exemplars (showing how the CS2013 Body of
Knowledge may be covered in a variety of actual fielded courses), and 5 full
curricular exemplars from a variety of educational institutions. The report
also contains discussions of characteristics of CS graduates, design
dimensions in introductory courses, and institutional challenges in CS
programs, among other topics. The report has been endorsed by both the ACM
and IEEE-Computer Society. We hope you find it useful.

CITING THE CS2013 FINAL REPORT
To cite the CS2013 report, please use the canonical citation provided below
in ACM format and BibTex.

ACM format:
ACM/IEEE-CS Joint Task Force on Computing Curricula. 2013. Computer Science
Curricula 2013. ACM Press and IEEE Computer Society Press. DOI:

http://dx.doi.org/10.1145/2534860

BibTex:
@techreport{CS2013,
title = {Computer Science Curricula 2013},
author = {ACM/IEEE-CS Joint Task Force on Computing Curricula},
month = {December},
year = {2013},
institution = {ACM Press and IEEE Computer Society Press},
url = {http://dx.doi.org/10.1145/2534860},
doi = {10.1145/2534860}
}

Warm regards,
Mehran Sahami and Steve Roach
Co-Chairs, CS2013 Steering Committee

CS2013 Steering Committee

ACM Delegation
Mehran Sahami, Chair (Stanford University)
Andrea Danyluk (Williams College)
Sally Fincher (University of Kent)
Kathleen Fisher (Tufts University)
Dan Grossman (University of Washington)
Beth Hawthorne (Union County College)
Randy Katz (UC Berkeley)
Rich LeBlanc (Seattle University)
Dave Reed (Creighton University)

IEEE-CS Delegation
Steve Roach, Chair (Exelis Inc.)
Ernesto Cuadros-Vargas (Univ. Catolica San Pablo, Peru)
Ronald Dodge (US Military Academy)
Robert France (Colorado State University)
Amruth Kumar (Ramapo College of New Jersey)
Brian Robinson (ABB Corporation)
Remzi Seker (Embry-Riddle Aeronautical Univ.)
Alfred Thompson (Microsoft)

December 30, 2013 at 10:42 am 1 comment

Why Flipping Classrooms Might Not Make Much Difference

This paper is getting a lot of discussion here at Georgia Tech:

In preliminary research, professors at Harvey Mudd College haven’t found that students learn more or more easily in so-called flipped courses than in traditional classes, USA Today reports. In flipped courses, students watch professors’ lectures online before coming to class, then spend the class period in discussions or activities that reinforce and advance the lecture material.

Earlier this year, the National Science Foundation gave four professors at the college in Claremont, Calif., a three-year grant for $199,544 to study flipped classrooms. That research isn’t complete yet, but the professors already tried flipping their own classes last year and found “no statistical difference” in student outcomes.

via QuickWire: ‘Flipping’ Classrooms May Not Make Much Difference – Wired Campus – The Chronicle of Higher Education.

The reason why it’s generating a lot of discussion is because we know that it can make a difference to flip a classroom.  Jason Day and Jim Foley here at Georgia Tech did a careful and rigorous evaluation of a flipped classroom seven years ago (see IEEE paper on their study).  We all know this study and take pride in it — it was really well done.  It can work.  The Harvey Mudd study also shows that it can be done in a way that it doesn’t work. 

That’s really the story for all educational technology.  It can work, but it’s not guaranteed to work.  It’s always possible to implement any educational technology (or any educational intervention at all) in such a way that it doesn’t work.

November 13, 2013 at 1:28 am 12 comments

CS Teacher Repositories: CS OER Portal, Ensemble, CSTA, CAS, and…

I just received this via email:

We would like to inform you that we have added recently many new resources to the Computer Science Open Educational Resources Portal (CS OER Portal)  (http://iiscs.wssu.edu/drupal/csoer ). For those of you who have not visited it, the Portal hosts a rich collection of links to open teaching/learning materials targeted specifically the area of Computer Science. It provides multiple ways for locating resources, including search with filtering the results by CS categories, material type, level, media format, etc., as well as browsing by institutional (OpenCourseWare) collections, by CS categories, or by topics as recommended by the ACM/IEEE Computer Science Curriculum. The browsing functionality is supplemented with recommendations for similar courses/resources.

My first thought was, “Is this competition for Ensemble, the big NSF-sponsored digital library of CS curricular materials?”

If we’re specifically thinking just about computing in schools (K-12 in the US), we should also consider the CSTA Source Web Repository and the Resources section of the Computing at Schools website (which is pretty big and growing almost daily).

Specifically for a particular tool or approach, there’s the Greenfoot Greenroom, ScratchEd for Scratch Teachers and other Educators, the Alice teacher’s site, the TeaParty site (for the Alice + MediaComp website), and of course, the Media Computation site.  I’m sure that there are many others — for particular books (like this one introducing Python with Objects), for particular curricular approaches (like Exploring Computer Science and CSUnplugged), and even for particular methods (I reference the Kinesthetic Learning Activities site in my TA preparation class).

It’s really great that there are so many repositories, so many resources to help CS teachers, and so many people developing and sharing resources.  I get concerned when I’m in a meeting where we’re talking about how to help CS teachers, and someone suggests (and it really happens in many of the meetings I attend), “If we only had a repository where teachers could find resources to help them…”  No, I really don’t think that more repositories is going to solve any problems at this point.

November 6, 2013 at 1:30 am 4 comments

Strong vision drives growth in CS course at Princeton

The course at Princeton does sound really cool, but I’m not convinced that the course content/curriculum is driving the growth.  As we found with MediaComp, the curriculum seems to have little to do with enrollment in a course.  I wonder what comparable courses (say, at Harvard or Yale) look like in terms of enrollment.

I strongly agree with the argument that they’re making below for the importance of computational literacy.

Sedgewick said he is pleased that the course leads many students to a greater interest in computer science, but he feels strongly that computers are so integral to modern society that a basic understanding of the field should be a part of any education. In the introduction to their textbook, “Introduction to Programming in Java,” Sedgewick and Wayne say that in the modern world computer science cannot be left to specialists.

“The basis for education in the last millennium was reading, writing and arithmetic; now it is reading, writing and computing,” they write.

via story-04 – Princeton Engineering.

November 4, 2013 at 1:44 am Leave a comment

Writing programs using ordinary language: Implications for computing education

Once upon a time, all computer scientists understood how floating point numbers were represented in binary.  Numerical methods was an important part of every computing curriculum.  I know few undergraduate programs that require numerical methods today.

Results like the below make me think about what else we teach that will one day become passé, irrelevant, or automatized.  The second result is particularly striking.  If descriptions from programming competitions can lead to automatic program generation, what does that imply about what we’re testing in programming competitions — and why?

The researchers’ recent papers demonstrate both approaches. In work presented in June at the annual Conference of the North American Chapter of the Association for Computational Linguistics, Barzilay and graduate student Nate Kushman used examples harvested from the Web to train a computer system to convert natural-language descriptions into so-called “regular expressions”: combinations of symbols that enable file searches that are far more flexible than the standard search functions available in desktop software.

In a paper being presented at the Association for Computational Linguistics’ annual conference in August, Barzilay and another of her graduate students, Tao Lei, team up with professor of electrical engineering and computer science Martin Rinard and his graduate student Fan Long to describe a system that automatically learned how to handle data stored in different file formats, based on specifications prepared for a popular programming competition.

via Writing programs using ordinary language – MIT News Office.

July 31, 2013 at 1:36 am 2 comments

Of MOOCs and Mousetraps: Making Curricular Decisions in Massive Courses

Karen Head is writing occasional blog posts about her efforts to teach introductory  composition in a MOOC.  I appreciate getting a chance to see into the design choices she needs to make to fit into the context of a massive on-line course.

From the beginning we have had logistical issues getting a large group together on a regular basis. After only three meetings, we decided to break into two main subgroups: one focusing on curricular decisions and the other on technical ones. My partner in this project, Rebecca Burnett (director of our Writing and Communication Program), and I attend all meetings to ensure that the two sides remain coordinated. Some of the key curricular decisions we needed to make immediately were the length and theme of the course, expected student commitment, types of assignments, and appropriate instructional approaches. We decided the course should last eight weeks rather than six to create a framework for students to understand the goals and approaches, and to allow time for more end-of-course reflection. We also decided to have a single “build on” main assignment; each week students will learn new skills and apply these to the continuing project. For our theme, which lends itself to our multimodal course goals, we will have students write and speak about a principle that guides their everyday lives.

via Of MOOCs and Mousetraps – Wired Campus – The Chronicle of Higher Education.

March 18, 2013 at 1:39 am 1 comment

CSAB and ABET/CAC Criteria Committee Survey

At the ACM Education Council meeting this last weekend, I heard about changes in the accreditation criteria being considered for computing disciplines (e.g., Computer Science, Information Systems, Information Technology).  The committee has asked for feedback on several issues that they’re considering, e.g., how much mathematics do students really need in computing?

That question, in particular, is one that I’m reading about in The Computer Boys Take Over by Nathan Ensmenger.  Ensmenger tells the story of how mathematics got associated with preparation of programmers (not computer scientists).  Mathematics showed up on the early aptitude tests that industry created as a way of figuring out who might be a good programmer.  But Ensmenger points out that mathematic ability only correlated with performance in academic courses, and did not correlated with performance as a programmer.  It’s not really clear how much math is really useful (let alone necessary) for being a programming.  Mathematics got associated with programming decades ago, and it remains there today.

The Committee is inviting feedback on this and other issues that they’re considering:

This survey was developed by a joint committee from CSAB and the ABET Computing Accreditation Commission, and is designed to obtain feedback on potential changes on the ABET Computing Accreditation Criteria.  We are looking for opinions about some of the existing ideas under discussion for change, as well as other input regarding opportunities to improve the existing criteria.

Respondents to the survey may be computing education stakeholders in any computing sub discipline, including computer science, information systems, information technology, and many others. Stakeholders may include professionals in the discipline, educators, and/or employers of graduates from computing degree programs.

The survey may be completed online: https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/caccriteria2013.

Please send inquiries to csab@csab.org.

Thank you for your participation.

March 11, 2013 at 1:48 am 1 comment

Just in time for #SIGCSE13: Ironman draft of CS2013 is out!

Posted by Mehran Sahami.  There are several sessions for feedback on the draft and to provide exemplars for the curriculum section.

Dear Colleagues,

Just in time for SIGCSE, we are happy to announce the availability of the
ACM/IEEE-CS Computer Science Curricula 2013 (CS2013) – Ironman v1.0 draft.
The draft is available at the CS2013 website (http://cs2013.org) or directly
at:
http://cs2013.org/ironman-draft/cs2013-ironman-v1.0.pdf

The Ironman v1.0 draft contains a revision of the CS2013 Body of Knowledge,
based on comments from the previously released CS2013 Strawman and Ironman
v0.8 drafts.  The Ironman v1.0 draft also includes additional new chapters
as well as over 50 course exemplars, showing how the CS2013 Body of
Knowledge may be covered in a variety of actual fielded courses.

** SIGCSE-13 SPECIAL SESSION: CS2013: Reviewing the Ironman Report **
A special session, entitled “ACM/IEEE-CS Computer Science Curriculum 2013:
Reviewing the Ironman Report,” will be held at SIGCSE-13.  This session will
give you an overview of the current state of the CS2013 curricular
guidelines and provide opportunities for discussion and feedback from the
community.  The special session will be held on Thursday, March 7, 2013 from
10:45am to 12:00pm in Ballroom E.

** SIGCSE-13 SPECIAL SESSION: CS2013 EXEMPLAR-FEST **
Another SIGCSE-13 special session is the “CS 2013: Exemplar-Fest”.  This
session will showcase submitted samples of CS2013 course/curriculum
exemplars and provide the opportunity to engage the community in the
development of additional course/curricular exemplars for CS2013.  The
special session will be held on Friday, March 8, 2013 from 10:45am to
12:00pm in Ballroom F.

COMMENTING ON CS2013 IRONMAN v1.0 DRAFT
The Ironman v1.0 draft is the penultimate draft of the CS2013 curricular
guidelines.  The final version of the CS2013 guidelines will be published in
Fall 2013.  We welcome additional comments on the CS2013 Ironman draft from
the computing community.  Information on how to comment on the draft is
available at the CS2013 website.  Comments on the Ironman draft will be
addressed in the final released version of CS2013.

CALL FOR EXEMPLARS
The CS2013 Curriculum Steering Committee is continuing to seek exemplars of
courses and curricula from the broader community. This open process will
better connect the CS2013 Body of Knowledge to real, existing approaches
representing diverse and innovative ways to teach computer science. In
Computer Science terms, the topics and learning outcomes in the Body of
Knowledge represent a “specification”, whereas a curriculum is an
“implementation” and a course is part of a curriculum.  Information on how
to contribute course/curriculum exemplars is available at the CS2013 website
(http://cs2013.org) or directly at:
http://cs2013.org/exemplars.html

Warm regards,
Mehran Sahami and Steve Roach
Co-Chairs, CS2013 Steering Committee

CS2013 Steering Committee

ACM Delegation
Mehran Sahami, Chair (Stanford University)
Andrea Danyluk (Williams College)
Sally Fincher (University of Kent)
Kathleen Fisher (Tufts University)
Dan Grossman (University of Washington)
Beth Hawthorne (Union County College)
Randy Katz (UC Berkeley)
Rich LeBlanc (Seattle University)
Dave Reed (Creighton University)

IEEE-CS Delegation
Steve Roach, Chair (Univ. of Texas, El Paso)
Ernesto Cuadros-Vargas (Univ. Catolica San Pablo, Peru)
Ronald Dodge (US Military Academy)
Robert France (Colorado State University)
Amruth Kumar (Ramapo Coll. of New Jersey)
Brian Robinson (ABB Corporation)
Remzi Seker (Embry-Riddle Aeronautical Univ.)
Alfred Thompson (Microsoft)

############################

March 6, 2013 at 9:51 am 2 comments

Defining the role for computer science in a national curriculum

The UK has achieved something that the US has not yet accomplished (but is trying through the Computing in the Core effort). Computer science is now included as part of a national UK curriculum.  Computer science is not yet part of most US state curricula.  Neil Brown does a great job (in the blog post linked below) considering the strengths and weaknesses of the new curriculum.  In particular, he considers seriously what every student needs to have — certainly some CS (like in the CS:Principles effort), and trying out programming, but with ICT and digital literacy as probably the most critical for everyone.

At the core of computing is the science and engineering discipline of computer science, in which pupils are taught how digital systems work, how they are designed and programmed, and the fundamental principles of information and computation. Building on this core, computing equips pupils to apply information technology to create products and solutions. A computing education also ensures that pupils become digitally literate – able to use, and express themselves through, information and communication technology – at a level suitable for the future workplace and as active participants in a digital world.

via Computing in the National Curriculum | Academic Computing.

February 25, 2013 at 1:22 am Leave a comment

Vint Cerf urges computer science to be included in EBacc

Interesting that the ACM is taking an active role in this education public policy issue. I’ve seen them do this in the US before, but not in the UK. It’s great to see!

Vint Cerf – the founding father of the internet – is backing the BCS’s call for computer science to be included in the English Baccalaureate (EBacc).

In 2015, the EBacc is set to replace the current GCSE examination system in five core subjects: English, maths, a science, a foreign language and one or other from history or geography. Students wishing to take subjects outside of the EBacc will continue to take GCSEs until new syllabuses for other subjects are constructed.

Cerf, the vice-president and chief internet evangelist for Google and a distinguished fellow of the BCS, The Chartered Institute for IT, decided to air his views following the publication of The case for computer science as an option in the English Baccalaureate report from the BCS.

via Vint Cerf urges computer science to be included in EBacc.

December 11, 2012 at 7:01 am 1 comment

Draft ICT Programme of Study now available for comment

The process that started with the Royal Society’s report on the state of computer science education in UK schools has now resulted in a new draft program of study, available for comment. It’s interesting to contrast with CS:Principles and Exploring Computer Science as two US curricula aiming to, similarly, give students the computing knowledge and skills that they need for modern society.

In his speech to BETT on 11 January, the Secretary of State for Education Michael Gove responded to the call from industry by starting a consultation on withdrawing the existing National Curriculum Programme of Study for Information and Communication Technology (ICT) from September this year. The intention was to allow the development of innovative, exciting and rigorous new ICT courses in advance of the launch of the new National Curriculum in 2014. Following consultation, the government confirmed on 11 June that it was their intention to proceed and that ICT would be a compulsory subject up to Key Stage 4 with its own Programme of Study.

In late August 2012 the DfE invited BCS and the Royal Academy of Engineering to coordinate the drafting of a new Programme of Study for ICT. In discussion with DfE, BCS and the Royal Academy of Engineering decided to follow the following process

  • Form a small working party to write a first draft.
  • Publish this first draft in late October, and seek broad comment and feedback.
  • Revise the draft during November and December in the light of that feedback.
  • The DfE will publish the revised draft, along with the Programmes of Study for other subjects, for full public consultation in the Spring of 2013.

The working party included several school teachers, together with representation from Naace, CAS, ITTE, Vital, and NextGen Skills. The group’s membership appears below. It met for the first time on 19 September, and completed the draft by 22 October as required by DfE.

We are now at Step 2 of this process. The current draft should be regarded as a first step, not as a finished product. It has not received widespread scrutiny, and it is not endorsed by DfE. It is simply a concrete starting point for wider public debate.

via Draft ICT Programme of Study | BCS Academy of Computing.

November 29, 2012 at 7:09 am 1 comment

CS2013 Ironman Draft Available

We are happy to announce the availability of the ACM/IEEE-CS Computer Science Curricula 2013 – Ironman v0.8 draft. The draft is available at the CS2013 website (http://cs2013.org) or directly at:
http://cs2013.org/ironman-draft/cs2013-ironman-v0.8.pdf

The Ironman v0.8 draft contains the complete CS2013 Body of Knowledge, fully revised based on comments from the previously released CS2013 Strawman draft. We are now calling on the computing community to submit exemplars of courses and curricula to better connect the CS2013 Body of Knowledge to real, existing approaches representing diverse and innovative ways to teach computer science.

CALL FOR EXEMPLARS
The CS2013 Curriculum Steering Committee is seeking exemplars of courses and curricula from the broader community. This open process will better connect the CS2013 Body of Knowledge to real, existing approaches representing diverse and innovative ways to teach computer science. In computer-science terms, the topics and learning outcomes in the Body of Knowledge represent a “specification”, whereas a curriculum is an “implementation” and a course is part of a curriculum. The CS2013 Ironman v1.0 draft (the penultimate CS2013 draft) will be released in early 2013, containing an initial set of such course/curriculum exemplars.

Including exemplars as part of the CS2013 effort is a new idea not present in previous versions of the ACM/IEEE-CS Computer Science Curriculum guidelines. The steering committee believes they will provide greater value than stylized model courses that do not directly describe actual experience. Submitting an exemplar is your opportunity to present a successful approach to teaching computer science in a way that will prove useful to educators working to adopt the CS2013 guidelines.

Information on how to contribute course/curriculum exemplars is available at the CS2013 website (http://cs2013.org) or directly at:
http://cs2013.org/exemplars.html

SIGCSE-13 SPECIAL SESSION: CS2013 EXEMPLAR-FEST
A special session, entitled “CS 2013: Exemplar-Fest,” will be held at SIGCSE-13. This session will showcase submitted samples of CS2013 course/curriculum exemplars and provide the opportunity to engage the community in the development of additional course/curricular exemplars for CS2013. Exemplars submitted prior to December 5th can be considered for potential inclusion in this special session. The special session will be held on Friday, March 8, 2013 from 10:45am to 12:00pm.

COMMENTING ON CS2013 IRONMAN v0.8 DRAFT
We welcome additional comments on the CS2013 Ironman draft from the computing community. Information on how to comment on the draft is available at the CS2013 website. Comments on the Ironman draft will be addressed in the final released version of CS2013.

Warm regards,
Mehran Sahami and Steve Roach
Co-Chairs, CS2013 Steering Committee

CS2013 Steering Committee

ACM Delegation
Mehran Sahami, Chair (Stanford University)
Andrea Danyluk (Williams College)
Sally Fincher (University of Kent)
Kathleen Fisher (Tufts University)
Dan Grossman (University of Washington)
Beth Hawthorne (Union County College)
Randy Katz (UC Berkeley)
Rich LeBlanc (Seattle University)
Dave Reed (Creighton University)

IEEE-CS Delegation
Steve Roach, Chair (Univ. of Texas, El Paso)
Ernesto Cuadros-Vargas (Univ. Catolica San Pablo, Peru)
Ronald Dodge (US Military Academy)
Robert France (Colorado State University)
Amruth Kumar (Ramapo Coll. of New Jersey)
Brian Robinson (ABB Corporation)
Remzi Seker (Univ. of Arkansas, Little Rock)
Alfred Thompson (Microsoft)

November 21, 2012 at 10:18 am 2 comments

£3m investment in Computer Science and Digital Literacy in Wales

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.

via £3m investment in Computer Science and Digital Literacy in Wales « Computing: The Science of Nearly Everything.

November 13, 2012 at 7:20 am 4 comments

A Question that Everyone should Ask their CS Professors: Why do we have to learn this?

There’s a meme going around my College these days, about the 10 questions you should never ask your professor (linked below).  Most of them are spot-on (e.g., “Did we do anything important while I was out?”).  I disagreed with the one I quote below.

One of our problems in computer science is that we teach things for reasons that even we don’t know.  Why do we teach how hash tables are constructed?  Does everybody need to know that?  I actually like the idea of teaching everybody about hash functions, but it’s a valid question, and one that we rarely answer to ourselves and definitely need to answer to our students.

Why we’re teaching what we’re teaching is a critical question to answer for broadening participation, because we have to explain to under-represented minorities why it’s worth sticking with CS. Even more important for me is explaining this to non-majors, and in turn, to our colleagues in other departments.  Computing is a fundamental 21st Century literacy, and we have to explain why it’s important for everyone to learn.  “Stuck in the Shallow End” suggests that making ubiquitously available can help to broaden participation, but we can only get it ubiquitously available by showing that it’s worth it.

I’m back from New Zealand and ICER: today, yesterday, tomorrow — days get confused crossing a dateline.  (We landed in both Sydney and Los Angeles at 10:30 am on 13 September.)  I spent several hours of the trip reading Mike Hewner’s complete dissertation draft.  Mike has been asking the question, “How do CS majors define the field of computer science, and how do their misconceptions lead to unproductive educational decisions?”  He did a Grounded Theory analysis with 37 interviews (and when I tell this to people who have done Grounded Theory, their jaws drop — 37 interviews is a gargantuan number of interviews for Grounded Theory) at three different institutions.  One of his findings is that even CS majors really have no idea what’s going on in a class before they get there.  The students’ ability to predict the content of future courses, even courses that they’d have to take, was appallingly bad.  Even our own majors don’t know why they’re taking what they’re taking, or what will be in the class when they go to take it.

We will have to tell them.

Why do we have to learn this?” In some instances, this is a valid question. If you are studying medical assisting, asking why you have to learn a procedure can be a gateway to a better question about when such a procedure would be necessary. But it should be asked that way–as a specific question, not a general one. In other situations, like my history classes, the answer is more complicated and has to do with the composition of a basic liberal arts body of knowledge. But sometimes, a student asks this because they do not think they should have to take a class and want a specific rationale. In that case, I respond, “Please consult your course catalog and program description. If you don’t already know the answer to that question, you should talk to your advisor about whether or not this is the major for you.”

via 10 Questions You Should Never Ask Your Professor! – Online Colleges.

September 14, 2012 at 1:11 pm 12 comments

National Academies Report Defines ’21st-Century Skills’

I looked up this report, expecting to see something about computation as a ’21st-century skill.’ The report is not what I expected, and probably more valuable than what I was looking for.  Rather than focus on which content is most valuable (which leads us to issues like the current debate of whether we ought to teach algebra anymore), the panel emphasized “nonacademic skills,” e.g., the ability to manage your time so that you can graduate and intra-personal skills.  I also appreciated how careful the panel was about transfer, mentioning that we do know how to teach for transfer within a domain, but not between domains.

Stanford University education professor Linda Darling-Hammond, who was not part of the report committee, said developing common definitions of 21st-century skills is critical to current education policy discussions, such as those going on around the Common Core State Standards. She was pleased with the report’s recommendation to focus more research and resources on nonacademic skills. “Those are the things that determine whether you make it through college, as much as your GPA or your skill level when you start college,” she said. “We have tended to de-emphasize those skills in an era in which we are focusing almost exclusively on testing, and a narrow area of testing.”

The skill that may be the trickiest to teach and test may be the one that underlies and connects skills in all three areas: a student’s ability to transfer and apply existing knowledge to a problem in a new context. “Transfer is the sort of Holy Grail in this whole thing,” Mr. Pellegrino said. “We’d like to believe we can create Renaissance men who are experts in a wide array of disciplines and can blithely transfer skills from one to the other, but it just doesn’t happen that way.”

via Education Week: Panel of Scholars Define ’21st-Century Skills’.

August 13, 2012 at 7:11 am 1 comment

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