New APCS trial at UCSD

September 4, 2010 at 10:55 am 6 comments

Lisa Kaczmarczyk is going to blog on Beth Simon’s trial of the new AP course “Computer Science: Principles” at UCSD.  There are five trials total, and Beth’s is clearly the largest.

This pilot poses some exciting challenges. First of all, Beth will be delivering twice weekly lectures to approximately 750 students. Yes, 750. The students will be from two very different audiences: one group will be upper division Psychology students and the other will be freshmen who may end up majoring in any area.  Most have not currently expressed a preference for computing (otherwise they would likely be enrolled in the CS1 course). All of the students are required to take this course. Students will be seated in three adjacent lecture halls. Using various pedagogical techniques that Beth has been refining over several years, including innovative use of clickers to create dynamic interchanges between student and instructor, this pilot will aim to demonstrate that the Principles course can be scaled to the largest of classroom audiences.

via Interdisciplinary Computing Blog: APCS Principles Course Development at UCSD.

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6 Comments Add your own

  • 1. David Klappholz  |  September 4, 2010 at 11:06 am

    Re: “All of the students are required to take this course.” Do you know what “all the students” means? All entering freshmen at UCSD + all other-than-freshmen psych majors? Other?

    • 2. Mark Guzdial  |  September 5, 2010 at 4:02 pm

      I *think* it means that all those in the class are required to take it — that it’s not an elective for anyone. But I really don’t know. You might ask LisaK on her blog.


  • 3. Alan Kay  |  September 4, 2010 at 1:48 pm

    Hi Mark,

    Leaving out “Apples and Oranges” difficulties, our experience over the last 20+ years in elementary schools is that one has to do 3 years of trials before enough artifacts are eliminated from curriculum and computer systems, and enough learning has been done by the teachers, to be able to get an actual assessment of a curriculum design.

    Is that part of the plan here? Or is this like so many other “educational experiments” with an aim to put forth “conclusions” after a single trial in a single year?



    • 4. Mark Guzdial  |  September 5, 2010 at 3:57 pm

      Hi Alan,

      The plan is for a first round trial in higher-education this year, and a second round of trials in both high schools and university levels. Not at all clear how decisions are made, and what comes after that.


      • 5. Alan Kay  |  September 5, 2010 at 6:12 pm

        Need to be done 3 years with the same teachers, etc. to even have a hope of normalizing things enough to get a good look at what’s good and what isn’t. This is a standard bug in almost all educational “research”.

        The irony is that the need for learning over time by the practitioners is rarely heeded by so many who are trying to do something about improving learning!



  • 6. Is MOOC reflecting how people learn? | Learner Weblog  |  January 5, 2013 at 2:17 am

    […] happens, MOOCs should not replace existing classes with good teachers. You have to see Beth Simon live lecture to 900 to see how that can be much better than a […]


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