Posts tagged ‘computing education research’

Call for Papers for 2nd Blocks and Beyond Workshop

Call for Participation

Blocks and Beyond 2:
2nd Workshop on Lessons and Directions for
First Programming Environments

October 9-10, 2017, Raleigh, NC, USA

A satellite workshop of the 2017 IEEE Symposium
on Visual Languages and Human-Centric Computing (VL/HCC)

Call for Participation

Scope and Goals

Blocks programming environments represent program syntax trees as compositions of visual blocks. They are an increasingly popular way to introduce programming and computational thinking; tens of millions of people have used tools like Scratch, Blockly, App Inventor, Snap!, Pencil Code, Alice/Looking Glass, AgentSheets/AgentCubes, and’s curricula. But blocks programming is not just for beginners; environments like GP and domain-specific blocks languages are targeted at hobbyists, scientists. and other casual programmers.

Capitalizing on the energy and enthusiasm from the 1st Blocks and Beyond Workshop in Atlanta in 2015, this workshop aims to continue studying the usability, effectiveness, and generalizability of affordances of these environments and their associated pedagogies. The workshop will bring together educators and researchers with experience in blocks languages, as well as members of the broader VL/HCC community who wish to examine this area more deeply. We seek participants with diverse expertise, including, but not limited to: design of programming environments, instruction with these environments, the learning sciences, data analytics, usability, and more.

The workshop will be a generative discussion that sets the stage for future work and collaboration. It will include participant presentations and demonstrations that frame the discussion, followed by reflection on the state of the field and smaller working-group discussion and brainstorming sessions.

Suggested Topics for Discussion

·  Who uses blocks programming environments and why?

·  Which features of blocks environments help or hinder users? How do we know? Which of these features are worth incorporating into more traditional IDEs? What helpful features are missing?

·  How can blocks environments and associated curricular materials be made more accessible to everyone, especially those with disabilities?

·  Can blocks programming appeal to a wider range of interests (e.g., by allowing connections to different types of devices, web services, data sources, etc.)?

·  What are the best ways to introduce programming to novices and to support their progression towards mastery? Do these approaches differ for for learners of computing basics and for makers?

·  What are the conceptual and practical hurdles encountered by novice users of blocks languages when they face the transition to text languages and traditional programming communities? What can be done to reduce these hurdles?

·  How can we best harness online communities to support growth through teaching, motivating, andproviding inspiration and feedback?

·  What roles should collaboration play in blocks programming? How can environments support that collaboration?

·  In these environments, what data can be collected, and how can that data be analyzed to determine answers to questions like those above? How can we use data to answer larger scale questions about early experiences with programming?

·  What are the lessons learned (both positive and negative) from creating first programming environments that can be shared with future environment designers?


We invite two kinds of submissions:

1.       A 1 to 4 page position statement describing an idea or research question related to the design, teaching, or study of blocks programming environments.

2.       A paper (up to 8 pages) describing previously unpublished results involving the design, study, or pedagogy of blocks programming environments.

All submissions must be made as PDF files to the Easy Chair Blocks and Beyond workshop submission site.

As with the Proceedings of the 1st Blocks and Beyond Workshop, we plan to publish the proceedings of the 2nd Workshop with the IEEE. Please use an IEEE Conference template to format your submission.

Important Dates

·  19 Jul 2017: Submissions due (due by end of day, anytime on Earth)

·  16 Aug 2017: Author notification

·  30 Aug 2017: Camera ready copies due

·  9-10 Oct 2017: Workshop in Raleigh

June 23, 2017 at 7:00 am Leave a comment

Older Adults Learning Computer Programming: Motivations, Frustrations, and Design Opportunities

Great new Blog@CACM post by Philip Guo summarizing his recent CHI publication — how do people over 60 learn to program?  I’m so excited that Philip is exploring these issues. I’m interested in these issues, too, since I wrote about the challenges of learning as an adult and about the possibility of CS meet-ups for adult learners.  Philip is offering data, which I very much appreciate.

Why study older adults in particular? Because this population is already significant and also quickly growing as we all (hopefully!) continue to live longer in the coming decades. The United Nations estimates that by 2030, 25% of North Americans and Europeans will be over 60 years old, and 16% of the worldwide population will be over 60. There has been extensive research on how older adults consume technology, and some studies of how they curate and produce digital content such as blogs and personal photo collections. But so far nobody has yet studied how older adults learn to produce new technologies via computer programming.

Thus, to discover older adults’ motivations and frustrations when learning to code, I designed a 10-question online survey that asked about their employment status (e.g., working, semi-retired, retired), occupation, why they are learning, what resources they use to learn, and what has been the most frustrating part of their learning experience thus far.

Source: Older Adults Learning Computer Programming: Motivations, Frustrations, and Design Opportunities | blog@CACM | Communications of the ACM

June 12, 2017 at 7:00 am 1 comment

Education Week covers CS Ed Research presented at AERA

That is not a title I ever thought I’d write for a blog post.  How terrific that CS Ed is big at the American Education Research Association (AERA) Annual Meeting, and is getting coverage in EdWeek!  (Thanks to Alfred Thompson for sharing this.)

As the movement has taken off, however, a number of basic questions have yet to be answered, and even more new questions have started to emerge. How do schools make computer science education more accessible for students from groups that have historically been shut out of the field? What types of lessons and programming environments are best for novice learners?  How do we know if students are learning what we want them to learn?

And, perhaps most significantly, why are America’s schools seeking to make computer science education universal in the first place?

All are topics that researchers across the country are actively investigating.

Source: Emerging Research on K-12 Computer Science Education: 6 Trends to Watch – Digital Education – Education Week

May 3, 2017 at 7:59 am Leave a comment

Discussing the film “Code: Debugging the Gender Gap”

Barbara Ericson and I were invited to be discussants at a showing of “Code: Debugging the Gender Gap.”  I highly recommend the movie.  It was fascinating to watch, made all the more fun by seeing heroes that I know appear, like Nathan Ensmenger, Avis Yates Rivers, Jane Margolis, Ari Schlesinger, Colleen Lewis, and Maria Klawe.

Afterward, I got to make a few comments — expanding on some of the movie’s points, and disagreeing with others.

The movie makes the argument that men and women aren’t wired differently.  We are all capable of learning computer science.  They didn’t have to make a biological argument.  In the Middle East and many other parts of the world, computer science is female-dominated. Clearly, it’s not biology.  (Perhaps surprisingly, I recently got asked that question at one of the top institutes of technology in the United States: “Don’t women avoid CS because their brains work differently?”  REALLY?!?)

The movie talks about how companies like IBM and RCA started advertising in the 1970’s and 1980’s for “men” with “the right stuff,” and that’s when the field started masculinizing.  They don’t say anything about the role that educators played, the story that Nathan Ensmenger has talked about in his book “The Computer Boys Take Over.”  When we realized that we couldn’t teach programming well, we instead started to filter out everyone who would not become a great programmer. For example, that’s when calculus was added into computer science degree requirements.  Women were less interested in the increasingly competitive computer science programs, especially when there were obvious efforts to weed people out.  That was another factor in the masculinization of the field.

Many of those interviewed in the movie talk about the importance of providing “role models” to women in computing.  The work of researchers like the late (and great) Joanne Cohoon show that role models aren’t as big a deal as we might think.  Here’s a thought experiment to prove the point: There are biology departments where the faculty are even more male than most CS departments, yet those departments are still female-dominant.  What we do know is that women and URM students need encouragement to succeed in CS, and that that encouragement can come from male or female teachers.

Finally, several interviewed in the movie say that we have to get girls interested in CS early because high school or university is “way too late.”  That’s simply not true.  The chair of my School of Interactive Computing, Annie Antón, didn’t meet computing until she was an undergraduate, and now she’s full Professor in a top CS department.  Yes, starting earlier would likely attract more women to computing, but it’s never “too late.”

After the movie, an audience member asked me if I really believed that diversity was important to build better products, and how would we prove that.  I told him that I didn’t think about it that way.  I’m influenced by Joanna Goode and Jane Margolis.  Computing jobs are high-paying and numerous.  Women and under-represented minority students are not getting to those jobs because they’re not getting access to the opportunites, either because of a lack of access to computing education or because of bias and discrimination that keep them out.  It’s not about making better products.  This is a social justice issue.


April 28, 2017 at 7:00 am 5 comments

Call for Papers for Koli Calling: Papers due 4 August

Call for papers
17th Koli Calling International Conference on Computing Education Research
Koli, Finland, 16-19
November 2017
Koli Calling is one of the leading international conferences dedicated to the scholarship of teaching and learning and to education research in the computing disciplines. Koli Calling publishes high-quality papers that combine teaching and learning experiences with solid, theoretically anchored research. The conference is held annually at the Sokos Hotel Koli, located in the Koli National Park about 70km north of Joensuu, Finland. The Koli Calling 2017 conference is organised by the University of Eastern Finland, Finland, in collaboration with the University of Warwick, UK.

Submission deadline (all categories):            Friday 04 August at noon EET (GMT +3h)
Extended submission deadline (see below): Friday 11 August at noon EET (GMT +3h)
Notification of acceptance:                             Friday 08 September at noon EET (GMT +3h)
Submission of revised manuscripts:              Friday 22 September at noon EET (GMT +3h)
Early-bird Registration:                                   Friday 08 – Friday 29 September
Conference registration deadline:                  Friday 13 October at noon EET (GMT +3h)
Conference:                                  Thursday November 16 (evening) to Sunday November 19 (morning)
Extended submission deadline: we offer a re-submission slack of exactly one week. If a paper is submitted by the 04 August deadline, it will be possible to submit updated versions of the paper until 11 August. Papers that are not first submitted by 4 August, or that are not reasonably complete at that time, will not be considered.
Authors please note: The official publication date is the date the proceedings are made available in the ACM Digital Library. This date is expected to be one week prior to the first day of the conference. The official publication date affects the deadline for any patent filings related to published work.
Koli Calling is a single-track conference with research, practice and systems presentations as well as keynote and invited talks. The conference language is English. The conference is known for its moderate size, intimate atmosphere, and lively discussions. To maintain this reputation, a limited number of submissions will be accepted. Last year about 50 participants attended the conference from 9 countries on 3 continents.
Koli Calling 2017 will organise a pre-conference doctoral consortium (DC) on computational thinking (CT) from Tuesday 14th November (evening) until Thursday 16th November (evening), led by Professors Matti Tedre and Markku Tukiainen. During the DC participants will have the opportunity to contribute to others’ research ideas by providing useful insights, to further develop their own research interests, and to promote their academic community and network under the guidance of established and well-known researchers. We welcome submissions from participants at any stage of their doctoral studies.
Original submissions are invited in all areas related to the conference theme and should have an explicit connection to computing education. Topics of interest include, but are not limited to:
  • Computing education research: theoretical aspects, methodologies and results;
  • Development and use of technology to support education in computing and related sciences, e.g., tools for visualisation or concretisation;
  • Teaching and assessment approaches, innovations and best practices;
  • Distance, online, blended, and informal learning;
  • Learning analytics and educational data mining;
  • Computing education in all educational levels, e.g., K12, context and teacher training.
For more information see the conference website
or contact Calkin Suero Montero and Mike Joy at
We are looking forward to seeing you at Koli.
Calkin Suero Montero and Mike Joy

Program Chairs, Koli Calling 2017

April 26, 2017 at 7:00 am Leave a comment

ACM TURC 2017: Come see Amber, Dan, and me in China

The ACM Turing China conference will have a SIGCSE track this May.  Come see SIGCSE Chair Amber Settle, world-famous CS educator Dan Garcia (recently in NYTimes) from Berkeley, and me in Shanghai in May.

The ACM TURC 2017 (SIGCSE China) conference is a new leading international forum at the intersection of computer science and the learning sciences, seeking to improve practice and theories of CS education. ACM TURC 2017 will be held in Shanghai, China, 12-14 May, 2017. We invite the submission of original rigorous research on methodologies, studies, analyses, tools, or technologies for computing education.

Source: ACM TURC 2017 (SIGCSE China)

April 24, 2017 at 7:00 am 1 comment

Google seeking input on next directions in CS Education Research

Please follow the survey link below to give feedback to Google on what you think is important in CS education research.

We are collecting input to inform the direction of Google’s computer science (CS) education research in order to better support the field.  As researchers, educators, and advocates working in the field everyday, your input is extremely valued.  Please complete this survey by Sunday, April 23.  Feel free to share this survey with others who may be interested in sharing their insights.

Thank you,
Jennifer, on behalf of Google‘s CS Education Research & Evaluation team

April 19, 2017 at 7:00 am 5 comments

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