Visiting Indiana University this week
I’m visiting Indiana University this week, and giving two talks. If any readers are in the Bloomington area, I hope you can stop by!
9:30 am Jan 29
Title: Improving Success in Learning Computer Science Using Lessons from Learning Sciences
Abstract: Learning computer science is difficult, with multiple international studies demonstrating little progress. We still understand too little about the cognitive difficulties of learning programming, but we do know that we can improve success by drawing on lessons from across learning sciences. In this talk, I will describe three examples, where we improve success in learning computer science through application of lessons and models from the learning sciences. We increased the retention of non-CS majors in a required CS course by increasing the relevance of the course (informed by Eccles’ model of achievement-related choices), though we are limited in how far we can go because legitimate peripheral participation is less relevant. We improved opportunities to learn in a collaborative forum by drawing on lessons from anchored instruction, but were eventually defeated by student perceptions of culture. We have improved learning and transfer of knowledge about programming by using subgoal labeling to promote self-explanations.
Abstract: My colleagues and I have been studying how to teach computer science, to CS majors, to non-CS undergraduates, and to adult professionals. In this talk, I’ll talk about some of what we’ve learned, organized around three lessons. Lesson #1: We typically teach computer science too abstractly, and by teaching it in a context (e.g., media, robots, Nintendo GameBoys, Photoshop), we can dramatically improve success (retention and learning) for both traditional and non-traditional CS learners. Lesson #2: Collaboration can create opportunities for learning, but classroom culture (e.g., competition) trumps technology (Wikis). Lesson #3: Our greatest challenge in computer science education is improving teaching, and that will require changes in high schools, in public policy, and in universities.