Posts tagged ‘computing education research’

Summarizing the Research on Designing Programming Languages to be Easier to Learn: NSF CS Ed Community Meeting

I’m at the NSF STEM+Computing and Broadening Participation in Computing Community Meeting.  At our ECEP meeting on Saturday, we heard from White House Champion of Change Jane Margolis.  She did a great job of getting our states to think about how to change their state plans to emphasize diversity and equity — more on that in a future blog post.


I moderated a panel yesterday on how to integrate computing education into schools of education.  Here’s the description of the session — again, more later on this.

Integrating Computing Education into Preservice Teacher Development Programs  

(Mark Guzdial (moderator), Leigh Ann DeLyser, Joanna Goode, Yasmin Kafai, Aman Yadav)

For computing education to become ubiquitous and sustainable in US K-12 schools, we need schools of Education to teach computing.
  • ​What should we be teaching to preservice teachers?
  • Where should we teach CS methods in preservice teacherdevelopment?
  • How do we help schools of Ed to hire and sustain faculty who focus on computing education?
Panelists will talk about how CS Ed is being integrated into their preservice teacher development programs, and about alternative models for addressing these questions.

Yesterday, our other computing education research Champion of Change, Andreas Stefik presented a summary of the empirical evidence on how to design programming languages to make them easier to learn.  Follow the link below to get to the two-page PDF pamphlet he produced for his presentation — it’s dense with information and fascinating.

This pamphlet is designed to provide an overview of recent evidence on human factors evidence in programming language design. In some cases, our intent is to dispel myths. In others, it is to provide the result of research lines.

from Programming Languages and Learning by Andreas Stefik

February 2, 2016 at 8:58 am 5 comments

Human-Centric Development of Software Tools: Dagstuhl Seminar Report now published

I wrote about this seminar when I attended (see post here) — the report has now been posted.  I grimace a bit in sharing this since the title of my paragraph has a mis-spelling in it…Sigh.

Over two and half days, over 30 participants engaged in inventing and evaluating programming and software engineering tools from a human rather than tool perspective. We discussed methods, theories, recruitment, research questions, and community issues such as methods training and reviewing. This report is a summary of the key insights generated in the workshop.

Source: DROPS – Human-Centric Development of Software Tools (Dagstuhl Seminar 15222)

January 29, 2016 at 8:02 am Leave a comment

On Imposter Syndrome: The week I made Forbes’ 30 Under 30 Science List

Sarah Guthals, a CS Education Researcher, was identified by Forbes Magazine as one of the “30 under 30” scientists to watch in years to come.  Congratulations to Sarah! She wrote an interesting blog post on imposter syndrome and the nomination.

I have suffered from imposter syndrome for at least a decade. I have worked hard, but it’s really hard for me to believe that I deserve what I have, or that the accomplishments that I’ve made are valid. I recognized my imposter syndrome when I was in my first year of grad school and since then I have been really trying to combat it — but I think instead I have just been ignoring it. Let’s see if I can explain it in the context of this weeks events.

When I found out I was nominated, I was very happy, but already feeling like a fraud. Am I really the one that should be nominated? What have I done to deserve it? I haven’t done anything alone (always had a team or partner).

Source: The week I made Forbes’ 30 Under 30 Science List — Medium

January 27, 2016 at 8:01 am Leave a comment

White House Champions of Change for CS Education: Jane Margolis and Andreas Stefik

Congratulations to Jane Margolis and Andy Stefik, two computing education researchers named by the White House as Champions of Change!

Jane Margolis

Jane Margolis is a researcher at the University of California, Los Angeles Graduate School of Education and Information Studies, where she investigates why so few women and students of color have learned computer science. Based on research discussed in her books Unlocking the Clubhouse: Women in Computing and Stuck in the Shallow End: Education, Race and Computing, she and her collaborators, with support from the National Science Foundation, created Exploring Computer Science (ECS), a high school curriculum and teacher professional development program committed to reaching all students, especially those in underserved communities and schools. ECS now exists across the nation, including in seven of the largest school districts.

Andreas Stefik

Andreas Stefik, Ph.D. is an assistant professor of computer science at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. For the last decade, he has been creating technologies that make it easier for people, including those with disabilities, to write computer software. With grants from the National Science Foundation, he established the first national educational infrastructure for blind or visually impaired students to learn computer science. He is the inventor of Quorum, the first evidence-oriented programming language. The design of Quorum is based on rigorous empirical data from experiments on human behavior.

Source: Champions of Change | The White House

January 25, 2016 at 7:46 am 2 comments

End-user programmers are at least half of all programmers

I was intrigued to see this post during CS Ed Week from They’re revisiting the Scaffidi, Shaw, and Myers question from 2005 (mentioned in this blog post).

You may be surprised to learn that nearly DOUBLE the number of workers use computing than originally thought.  Our new research infographic shows that 7.7 million people use complex computing in their jobs — that’s 3.9 million more than the U.S. Bureau of Labor and Statistics (BLS) reports. We examined a major international dataset that looks past job titles to see what skills people actually use on the job. It turns out that the need for complex computer skills extends far beyond what the BLS currently classifies as computer occupations. Even more reason why computer science education is more critical than ever!

Source: The Hidden Half | Change the Equation is coming up with a much lower estimate of end-user programmers than did Scaffidi et al. Why is that? I looked at their methodology:

To estimate the total number of U.S. citizens who use computers in complex ways on the job, CTEq and AIR examined responses to question G_Q06 in the PIAAC survey: What level of computer use is/was needed to perform your job/last job?

  • STRAIGHTFORWARD, for example using a computer for straightforward routine tasks such as data entry or sending and receiving e-mails
  • MODERATE, for example word-processing, spreadsheets or database management
  • COMPLEX, for example developing software or modifying computer games, programming using languages like java, sql, php or perl, or maintaining a computer network

Source: the Hidden Half: Methodology | Change the Equation

Their “Complex” use is certainly programming, but Scaffidi et al would also call building spreadsheet macros and SQL queries programming. ChangeTheEquation has a different definition that I think undercounts significantly.

January 20, 2016 at 8:13 am 7 comments

The Inverse Lake Wobegon Effect in Learning Analytics and SIGCSE Polls

I wrote my Blog@CACM post this month about the Inverse Lake Wobegon effect (see the post here), a term that I coin in my new book (link to post about book).  The Inverse Lake Wobegon effect is where we observe a biased, privileged/elite/superior sample and act as if it is an unbiased, random sample from the overall population.  When we assume that undergraduates are like students in high school, we are falling prey to the Inverse Lake Wobegon effect.

Here’s an example from The Chronicle of Higher Education in the quote below. Looking at learning analytics from MOOCs can only tell us about student success and failure of those who sign up for the MOOC.  As we have already discussed in this blog (see post here), people who take MOOCs are a biased sample — well-educated and rich.  We can’t use MOOCs to learn about learning for those who aren’t there.

“It takes a lot of mystery out of why students succeed and why students fail,” said Robert W. Wagner, executive vice provost and dean at Utah State, and the fan of the spider graphic. “It gives you more information, and when you can put that information into the hands of faculty who are really concerned about students and completion rates and retention, the more you’re able to create better learning and teaching environments.”

Source: This Chart Shows the Promise and Limits of ‘Learning Analytics’ – The Chronicle of Higher Education

A second example: There’s a common thread of research in SIGCSE Symposium and ITICSE that uses survey data from the SIGCSE Members List as a source of information.  SIGCSE Members are elite undergraduate computer science teachers.  They are teachers who have the resources to participate in SIGCSE and the interest in doing so.  I know that at my own institution, only a small percentage (<10%) of our lecturers and instructors participate in SIGCSE.  I know that no one at the local community college’s CS department belongs to SIGCSE.  My guess is that SIGCSE Members represents less than 30% of undergraduate computer science teachers in the United States, and a much smaller percentage of computer science teachers worldwide. I don’t know if we can assume that SIGCSE Members are necessarily more expert or higher-quality.  We do know that they value being part of a professional organization for teaching, so we can assume that SIGCSE Members have an identity as a CS teacher — but that may mean that most CS teachers don’t have an identity as a CS teacher. A survey of SIGCSE Members tell us about an elite sample of undergraduate CS teachers, but not necessarily about CS teachers overall.

January 18, 2016 at 8:03 am 3 comments

Book released: Learner-Centered Design of Computing Education: Research on Computing for Everyone

My book in John Carroll’s Human-Centered Informatics series was just released: Learner-Centered Design of Computing Education: Research on Computing for Everyone 

The book is available on Amazon here. There’s a cool website with all options for getting the book here.

I’ve put a copy of the Table of Contents and Preface here:

My goal is to provide an overview (110 pages worth) of the research (over 300 references) related to computing education for everyone. I aim to connect literature from the traditional computing education research communities (e.g., SIGCSE and ICER) to research in learning sciences, educational psychology, and human-computer interaction.  There is a lot of history in the book because that’s how I like to view these things.

I spent most of 2015 writing this book, and this year set the context for the book.  This was the year that Chicago, San Francisco, Arkansas, and then New York City decided to require computing for everyone. I had all those efforts in mind when I was writing, to tell what research has found about teaching computing to everyone.

I expect to be blogging on some of themes in the book in 2016. Hope you all have Happy Holidays!

December 23, 2015 at 7:51 am 5 comments

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