Posts tagged ‘educational psychology’

Seeking Participants for Modality Study: Please forward

This is part of Briana Morrison’s dissertation work.  She’s asking the question about the role of explaining programs in different modalities (e.g., visual vs. oral text) have on understanding.  If you know potential applicants (e.g., maybe advertise it to your whole class?), please forward this to them. We’d appreciate it!

Do you like to watch videos on the internet?

Want to help with a research study?

 

We need volunteers, age 18 and older, with no computer programming experience to help us determine the best way to explain code using videos.

 

No more than 2 hours of your time!

Completing a portion of the study allows you to enter a raffle for one of four

$50 Amazon Gift Cards

Completion of entire study allows you to enter a raffle for one

$100 Amazon Gift Card

 

Interested? Go to the following website:

 

https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/CLModality

 

August 21, 2014 at 8:31 am 1 comment

ICER 2014 Preview: Briana Morrison and an instrument for measuring cognitive load

The International Computing Education Research (ICER) conference 2014 is August 11-13 in Glasgow (see program here).  My involvement starts Saturday August 9 when we have the welcome dinner for the doctoral consortium, which will be run all day on Sunday August 10 (Sally Fincher and I are chairing).  The main conference presentations continue through noon on Wednesday August 13. The rest of August 13 and into Thursday August 14 will be a new kind  of ICER session: Critical Research Review for work-in-progress.  I’m presenting on some new work that I’m getting feedback on related to constructionism for adults. I’ll blog about that later.

Briana Morrison is presenting her paper on developing an instrument to measure cognitive load (early version of paper available here), with co-authors Brian Dorn (my former student, now a chaired assistant professor at U. Nebraska-Omaha) and me.  Briana’s research is looking at the impacts of modality on program understanding for students.  Does audio vs. video vs. both have an impact on student understanding?  She’s controlling for time in all her presentations, and plans to measure performance…and cognitive load.  Is it harder for students to understand audio descriptions of program code, or to try to read text descriptions while trying to read text programs?

There wasn’t a validated instrument for her to use to measure the components of cognitive load — so she created one.  She took an existing instrument, and adapted it to computer science.  She and Brian did the hard work of crunching all the correlations and load factors to make sure that the instrument is still valid after her adaptation.  It’s an important contribution in terms of giving computing education researchers another validated tool for measuring something important about learning.

August 8, 2014 at 7:50 am 1 comment

People problem-solve differently in foreign languages: Implications for programming languages

Since states are making computing courses count as foreign language courses (even if that’s a bad idea),  it’s worthwhile to consider what the value is of learning a foreign language.  A recent Freakonomics podcast (linked below) considers the return on investment of learning a foreign language.  Most intriguing is that people problem-solve differently in their non-native languages.  I wonder what the implications are for programming languages?  We know that people have negative transfer when their native language abilities conflict with their programming language problem-solving.  Are there ways we could make the programming language better for problem-solving?

Learning a language is of course not just about making money — and you’ll hear about the other benefits. Research shows that being bilingual improves executive function and memory in kids, and may stall the onset of Alzheimer’s disease.

And as we learn from Boaz Keysar, a professor of psychology at the University of Chicago, thinking in a foreign language can affect decision-making, too — for better or worse.

via Freakonomics » Is Learning a Foreign Language Really Worth It? A New Freakonomics Radio Podcast.

July 24, 2014 at 9:31 am Leave a comment

Teaching programming could be made easier

Gas station without pump’s post on Garth’s complaint “Teaching programming is not getting easier” intrigued me.  Garth does a good job of pulling together a lot of the themes of what makes teaching CS hard today.  I think that we can improve the situation.  I’m particularly interested in learning how to scaffold the development of programming knowledge, and we have to find ways to create professional communities of CS teachers.  There are techniques to share (worked examples, peer instruction, pair programming, Parson’s problems, audio tours), and we’re clearly not doing a good job of it yet.

In programming there are 4 homework problems over the period of a week, none of which are “easy”, and all require some problem solving and thinking.  There is somewhat of an incremental progression to the problems but that step from written problem to code is always a big one.  It is somewhat similar to solving word problems in math, every student’s favorite task.  For programming there are no colleagues available that have as much or more experience to pull teaching ideas from, if there are any other programming teachers at all.  There are no pedagogical resources anywhere online for teaching strategies.  After watching a number (3) of programming teachers teach it seems the teaching strategy is pretty consistent; show and tell and hope.

via Teaching programming is not getting easier. | Garth’s CS Education Blog.

June 17, 2014 at 8:55 am 12 comments

MOOCs: One Size Doesn’t Fit All

My colleague, Amy Bruckman, considers in her blog how HCI design principles lead us to question whether MOOCs can achieve their goals.

Can a MOOC teach course content to anyone, anywhere? It’s an imagination-grabbing idea. Maybe everyone could learn about topics from the greatest teachers in the world! Create the class once, and millions could learn from it!

It seems like an exciting idea. Until you realize that the entire history of human-computer interaction is about showing us that one size doesn’t fit all.

via MOOCs: One Size Doesn’t Fit All | The Next Bison: Social Computing and Culture.

April 18, 2014 at 1:38 am 1 comment

Are we getting better at handling abstraction? – Radiolab podcast on Killing Babies, Saving the World

I’m a fan of Radiolab podcasts.  The one referenced below talks about the Flynn effect. Comparison of various tests of IQ over decades suggest that we’ve been getting smarter over the last 100 years.  Josh Greene argues that we (as humans in the developing world) may be developing greater ability to handle abstract thinking.  Abstraction isn’t everything in computer science (as Bennedsen and Caspersen showed us in 2008), but it is important.  Could our problems with computing education resolve over time, because we’re all getting better at abstraction?  Might it become easier to teach computer science in future decades, as we develop better cognitive abilities?  Given that performance on the Rainfall Problem has not improved over the last thirty years, I doubt it, but it’s an intriguing hypothesis.

Robert talks to Josh Greene, the Harvard professor we had on our Morality show. They revisit some ideas from that show in the context of the big, complicated problems of today (think global warming and nuclear war). Josh argues that to deal with those problems, we’re going to have to learn how to make better use of that tiny part of our brain that handles abstract thinking. Not a simple proposition, but, despite the odds, Josh has hope.

via Killing Babies, Saving the World – Radiolab.

March 11, 2014 at 1:10 am 8 comments

Learnersourcing subgoal labeling to support learning from how-to videos

What a cool idea!  Rob Moore is building on the subgoal labeling work that we (read: “Lauren”) did, and is using crowd-sourcing techniques to generate the labels.

Subgoal labeling [1] is a technique known to support learning new knowledge by clustering a group of steps into a higher-level conceptual unit. It has been shown to improve learning by helping learners to form the right mental model. While many learners view video tutorials nowadays, subgoal labels are often not available unless manually provided at production time. This work addresses the challenge of collecting and presenting subgoal labels to a large number of video tutorials. We introduce a mixed-initiative approach to collect subgoal labels in a scalable and efficient manner. The key component of this method is learnersourcing, which channels learners’ activities using the video interface into useful input to the system. The presented method will contribute to the broader availability of subgoal labels in how-to videos.

via Learnersourcing subgoal labeling to support learning from how-to videos.

February 12, 2014 at 1:11 am 3 comments

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