Posts tagged ‘computing education research’

More diversity and more progress with CS teachers vs just on-line:

Hadi Partovi of has a blog post (see here) with data from their on-line classes.  He’s making the argument that classroom teachers are super important for diversity and for student success.

Learning #1: Classrooms progress farther than students studying alone

In the graph below, the X axis is student age, the Y axis is their average progress in our courses. The blue line is students in classrooms with teachers. The red line is students studying without a classroom/teacher.


Learning #3: The ethnic backgrounds of students with teachers are impressively diverse

The data below doesn’t come from all students, because (for privacy reasons) we do not allow students to tell us their ethnic background. This chart was collected via an opt-in survey of teachers in the U.S. offering our courses, and as such is susceptible to inaccuracy. The picture it paints helps confirm our thesis that by integrating computer science into younger-aged classrooms in public schools, we can increase the diversity of students learning computer science.

February 25, 2015 at 8:03 am 5 comments

EarSketch Workshop at SIGCSE 2015

I’m an advisor on the EarSketch project, and it’s really cool. Recommended.

Next month, the EarSketch team will be offering a workshop at SIGCSE in Kansas City. This is a great opportunity to learn more about EarSketch, get hands on experience with the curriculum and environment, and learn how to use EarSketch in your classroom. This year’s workshop will also offer advice on integrating EarSketch into Computer Science Principles courses, though the workshop is of relevance to anyone teaching an introductory computing course.

For more information about SIGCSE, visit
To register for the workshop, please visit
Please contact Jason Freeman ( with any questions.

Workshop #20: Computer Science Principles with EarSketch
Saturday, March 7th, 2015
3 pm – 6 pm

Jason Freeman, Georgia Institute of Technology
Brian Magerko, Georgia Institute of Technology
Regis Verdin, Georgia Institute of Technology

EarSketch ( is an integrated curriculum, software toolset, audio loop library, and social sharing site that teaches computing principles through digital music composition and remixing. Attendees will learn to code in Python and/or JavaScript to place audio clips, create rhythms, and add and control effects within a multi-track digital audio workstation (DAW) environment while learning computing concepts such as variables, iteration, conditionals, strings, lists, functions, and recursion. Participants write code to make music, with a focus on popular genres such as hip hop. The agenda outlines the pedagogy of connecting musical expression to computation to broaden participation and engagement in computing; the underlying concept of thickly authentic STEAM that drives this approach; the alignment of the curriculum and learning environment with CS Principles; and basic musical concepts underlying EarSketch. The intended audience for this workshop is secondary and early post secondary CS educators. The course is of particular relevance to CS Principles teachers but also applicable to any introductory programming or computing course. No prior musical knowledge or experience is expected and no prior programming experience with Python or JavaScript is required.

February 14, 2015 at 8:18 am Leave a comment

Putting the Computer Science in Computing Education Research

Diana Franklin makes the point in CACM that computing education research is a CS issue.

What do these events have in common? Computer scientists identified a critical need in computer science education (and education in general) and developed something new to fill that need, released it, and scaled it without rigorous, scientific experiments to understand in what circumstances they are appropriate. Those involved have the best of intentions, working to create a solution in an area with far too little research. A compelling need for greater access to computing education, coupled with a dire shortage of well-supported computing education researchers, has led to deployments that come before research. High-profile failures hurt computer science’s credibility in education, which in turn hurts our future students. This imbalance between the demand and supply and the chasm between computer science and education creates an opportunity for some forward-thinking departments.

If computer science wants to be a leader rather than a spectator in this field, computer science departments at Ph.D.-granting institutions must hire faculty in computing education research (CER) to transform the face of education—in undergraduate CS teaching, K–12 CS education, and education in general.

via Putting the Computer Science in Computing Education Research | February 2015 | Communications of the ACM.

February 9, 2015 at 8:13 am 1 comment

What are the Barriers and Supports to Intro CS in school? BASICS – The Center for Elementary Mathematics and Science Education

I’m an advisor on the BASICS project at U. Chicago — the Barriers and Supports to Introductory CS in schools. I visited them in December after our semester ended. The link below goes to a page with some of the first results of the project.

Computer Science teachers in Chicago and Washington, DC completed a questionnaire in Spring 2014 that, among other things, asked them to identify the three biggest supports for and barriers to their computer science classes. All of the teachers were using Exploring Computer Science (ECS) instructional materials.

via BASICS – The Center for Elementary Mathematics and Science Education.

They have links on the page referenced above to the top barriers and supports that they heard from ECS teachers in those districts.  Top barrier for teachers: their own lack of self-efficacy.  Top support for teachers: professional development.

January 23, 2015 at 8:52 am 3 comments

Call for Papers for ICER 2015 in Omaha: Due April 13

Call for Papers and Submissions
ICER’15: International Computing Education Research Conference
August 9-13, Omaha, Nebraska, USA
The eleventh annual ACM International Computing Education Research (ICER) Conference aims to gather high-quality contributions to the computing education research discipline. We invite submissions across a variety of categories for research investigating how people of all ages come to understand computational processes and devices, and empirical evaluation of approaches to improve that understanding in formal and informal learning environments. 
Research areas of particular interest include:
·         discipline based education research (DBER) in computer science (CS), information sciences (IS), and related disciplines
·         learnability/usability of programming languages and the psychology of programming
·         pedagogical environments fostering computational thinking
·         design-based research, learner-centered design, and evaluation of educational technology supporting computing knowledge development
·         learning sciences work in the computing content domain
·         learning analytics and educational data mining in CS/IS content areas
·         informal learning experiences related to programming and software development (all ages), ranging from after-school programs for children, to end-user development communities, to workplace training of computing professionals
·         measurement instrument development and validation (e.g., concept inventories, attitudes scales, etc) for use in computing disciplines
·         research on CS/computing teacher thinking and professional development models at all levels
Submission Types
We continue ICER’s longstanding commitment to fostering discussion and exploring new research areas by offering several ways to contribute.  New for 2015, ICER features an increased page length for research papers of 8 pages for body content, plus up to 2 additional pages for references.  We have also expanded submission types to include a new research poster track. 
·         Research Papers: Empirical and theoretical contributions to the computing education research literature will be peer-reviewed by members of the international program committee and will be published in conference proceedings in the ACM digital library.  (8 pages, plus references)
·         Lightning Talks: Brief, timed talks highlighting a research issue/opportunity, a new project, other early-stage work.  (abstract submission)
·         Posters (new!): Posters provide another avenue to disseminate your work in computing education at ICER.  (abstract submission)
·         Work-in-Progress Workshop:  An in-depth workshop environment providing extensive feedback on in-progress research (application form required)
·         Doctoral Consortium: PhD students pursuing research related to computing education are invited to submit abstracts for participation in the doctoral consortium.  Abstracts from accepted participants are published in the conference proceedings (application and 2-page abstract)
·         Co-located Workshops:  Pre/post conference workshop proposals related to computing education research are welcomed.  (contact conference chairs)
For full details and submission information, see the conference website:
Important Deadlines
13 April, 2015 – Research paper abstract submission (mandatory)
20 April, 2015 – Research paper full copy, blind submission

20 April, 2015 – Co-located workshop proposals

20 May, 2015   – Doctoral consortium submissions due

1 June, 2015  – Notification to research paper authors

15 June, 2015  – Lighting talk & poster abstracts

15 June, 2015  – Work in progress workshop application deadline
Conference Chairs
Brian Dorn, University of Nebraska at Omaha, USA –
Judy Sheard, Monash University, Australia –
Quintin Cutts, University of Glasgow, UK –

January 22, 2015 at 7:05 am Leave a comment

New solicitation for NSF STEM-C: Emphasis on K-12 and Integration with Other STEM Disciplines

The new NSF STEM-C solicitation is out: See

The introduction to the new solicitation is visionary and speaks of the power of computing in STEM and for all students.  Here’s just the first paragraph:

The STEM + Computing (STEM+C) Partnerships program seeks to advance a 21st century conceptualization of education in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) that includes computing. The “+ Computing” notation emphasizes that computing is integral to the practice of all the other STEM disciplines. In this solicitation, computing refers to the whole set of fundamental concepts and skills that will allow students to creatively apply and adapt computation across a range of application domains, to “bend digital technology to one’s needs, purposes, and will.”

The focus of this solicitation is primarily on integration of computing with other STEM education disciplines, and secondarily, on computing education in K-12 (including teachers).  The prioritization is pretty clear from the budget limits:

The maximum total budget for Track 1: Integration of Computing in STEM Education awards is $2.5 million for Design and Development awards, $1.25 million for Exploratory Integration awards, and $250,000 for Field-Building Conferences and Workshops. The maximum total budget for Track 2: Computing Education Knowledge and Capacity Building awards is $600,000 for Research on Education and Broadening Participation awards and $1.0 million for CS 10K awards.

You can get up to $1.25M USD to explore integration of computing in STEM ($2.5M to design and develop), but at most $1M to put computing into schools and at most $600K to do research on computing education and broadening participation.  We might argue about the ratios, but in the end, both tracks and all the types of proposals have enough funding to do important work that needs to happen.

January 19, 2015 at 8:06 am 3 comments

What MOOCs are really good for: I’m going to do my first MOOC

A nice piece updating what we know about MOOCs, who’s taking them, and what they’re good for.  I have decided to offer my first MOOC, as part of an HCI specialization with Coursera.  (See the announcement here.)  This fits in exactly with what I think a MOOC is good for — it’s professional development for people with background in the field.  If students going to learn about HCI, I’d also like them to learn about making technologies for learning and about how people learn.  I agreed to do a short four week MOOC on designing learning technologies, development to occur this summer.  This isn’t about my research exactly (though, because it’s me, a lot of the examples will probably come from computing education). It’s not about reaching an under-served population, or teaching CS-novices or teachers.  Different purpose, different objectives — and objectives for this course and for the GT HCI specialization match for what a MOOC is good for.

The companies that rode to fame on the MOOC wave had visions and still do of offering unfettered elite education to the masses and driving down college tuition. But the sweet spot for MOOCs is far less inspirational and compelling. The courses have become an important supplement to classroom learning and a tool for professional development.

via Demystifying the MOOC –

December 19, 2014 at 8:15 am Leave a comment

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