Open Research Questions in Computing Education, 2017 Edition

November 3, 2017 at 6:00 am 6 comments

When I last taught the Computing Education Research question class in 2015, we generated a list of open research questions (see post here).  We’ve got even more students this time in the class, so our list of questions is even longer.  We tried to cluster them, so similar questions should be near each other


Open Research Questions

What areas/findings of CS education research transfer to online learning? What doesn’t work the same?

Would more students pursue CS if it was incorporated into other introductory classes (different domains)?

Would more collaboration in two CS classes help reduce the defensive climate?

Do certain spoken languages allow for more effective learning of computing? If so, which ones?

Why don’t girls/minorities enter CS classes even if offered at their K12/undergrad school?

In underrepresented communities, is CS education a priority? If not, why not?

Does learning computing earlier quicken abstract reasoning?

How can you tell if a middle-schooler is learning computational thinking? What is computational thinking, operationally?

How can we get the attrition rate to decrease in CS education? Do we offer fewer jobs in industry? Force more people to teach CS? How do retain CS teachers?

Would teaching testing strategies from CS1 increase code writing skills?

Would undergrads be better programmers if they used weakly-typed languages before using strongly-typed languages?

Would students be better programmers if they learned ML or R first? Or if they learned to diagram programs first?

Can short informal CS Ed interventions (e.g., in museums, public spaces, etc.) have any effect on CS learning and/or self-efficacy and/or attitudes towards computing?

How can teach undergraduate students how to better understand documentation? Should we explore creating language documentation specific to intro classes?

How does learning functional vs. procedural programming first effect development of computational literacy?

How can we increase diversity in online CS education?

What kind of Community of Learners gravitates towards online education?

How can we make informal computational learning accessible to a wide audience?

Is it a positive or negative thing to have different forms of education for different communities within CS?

Would a computing course focused on creative activities have better recruitment/retention of diverse students?

Does physical computing engage students in a different way than traditional programming?

How do computational scientists think about code differently than computer scientists?

Can we teach computing to an elderly community of learners?

Would more diversity in Maker and Tinkerer spaces increase the diversity in CS?

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Lamport and how Education works: The Coming Software Apocalypse How to scale our capacity to offer high-quality CS Education – CRA Education Committee

6 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Jeff Forbes  |  November 3, 2017 at 9:27 pm

    The questions about underrepresented groups might yield better answers if you disaggregate. Trying to address females, African Americans, Hispanics, Native Americans & Indigenous Peoples, & Persons with Disabilities together might be difficult.

    • 2. Mark Guzdial  |  November 3, 2017 at 10:08 pm

      Definitely part of our discussion, but the short form was what was written on the whiteboard

  • 3. Grant Hutchison  |  November 4, 2017 at 11:47 am

    I am planning to investigate this topic “Does physical computing engage students in a different way than traditional programming?”

    I am teaching introductory CS using Python (not the media computation approach at this point) and in second semester we will apply their Python skills to explore physical computing with Microbits.

    • 4. Mark Guzdial  |  November 5, 2017 at 11:02 am

      How will you decide if it works?

  • 5. cycomachead  |  November 5, 2017 at 12:06 am

    I’ve been interested what kinds of course policies affect retention and success. Particularly: Are complex policies (that are theoretical beneficial) to students effective? Secondarily, are they worth the costs?

    CS instructors, particularly university ones, seem to be very fond of creating incredibly complex course policies that I don’t often see in other domains.

  • […] where we brainstorm the questions that this class thinks are interesting and still open (see 2017 edition here and 2015 edition here). This is my first time teaching the class at the University of Michigan. […]


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