Posts tagged ‘computing education’

Motivating STEM Engagement in Children, Families, and Communities

I’ve known Dan Hickey for many years, and got to spend some time with him at Indiana when I visited there a couple years ago.  He’s dealing with an issue in this blog post that is critical to CS Education.  If we want students to value computing, it has to be valued and promoted in their families and communities.  How do we get engagement at a beyond-school level in computing education?

These issues of trajectories and non-participation in STEM learning have personal relevance for me and my own family. I was quite pleased a few years ago when my son Lucas enrolled in a computer programming class in high school. I never learned to program myself and these days it I find it quite a handicap. While I bought an Apple II+ computer in 1982 (!) and taught myself BASIC, an instructional technology professor discouraged me from delving too deeply into technology or programming (because “it changes too often”). While I still want to learn how to code, my non-participation in programming clearly helped define my trajectory towards a Ph.D in Psychology and satisfying career as a Learning Scientist.Unfortunately, the curriculum in my son’s programming class was like the typical secondary computer science instruction that Mark Guzdial chronicles in his Computing Education blog. The coding worksheets seemed to have been haphazardly created to match various videos located on the web. My son wanted to use the much more professional videos and exercises that we were able to access via my university’s account at, but his teacher insisted that my son complete the worksheets as well (so teacher could grade them).

Source: re-mediating assessment: Motivating STEM Engagement in Children, Families, and Communities

May 27, 2016 at 8:04 am Leave a comment

What’s going on with CS PhD Enrollments: Guest Blog Post from Betsy Bizot

Betsy Bizot at Computing Research Association (CRA) dug into the question that I posed about CS PhD’s, and came up with these answers. Thanks, Betsy!


Percentages are computed from those who answered the question about their postdoctoral status, about 90% of all SED respondents. They include those who said they were returning to or continuing with predoctoral employment, or who have a definite commitment for employment or postdoctoral study. Those who were negotiating with one or more possible employers were not counted.

Values in the Engineering column are from Doctorate Recipients from U.S. Universities: 2014 (for the 2004 and 2009 figures) and Doctorate Recipients from U.S. Universities: 2013 (for the 2013 figure), Table 42, National Center for Science and Engineering Statistics, available from the “data” tab at These were reported in Mark Guzdial’s Computing Education Blog

Values in the Computer Science column are computed using data from the Survey of Earned Doctorates licensed to the Computing Research Association through the National Center for Science and Engineering Statistics at the National Science Foundation. The use of NSF data does not imply NSF endorsement of the research methods or conclusions contained in this report. Licensing of this data was supported by grant B2014-12 from the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation

May 20, 2016 at 7:31 am 2 comments

Bootstrap computer science in Physics, as well as Algebra

This is a really cool announcement.  I believe that computing helps with all kinds of STEM learning, and admire the work at Northwestern on Agent Based Learning in STEM, Project GUTS, and Bootstrap.  It’s particularly important for getting CS into schools, since so few schools will have dedicated CS teachers for many years yet (as described here for Georgia). I’m excited to see that Bootstrap will be moving into Physics as well as Algebra.

Bootstrap, one of the nation’s leading computer science literacy programs, co-directed by Brown CS faculty members Shriram Krishnamurthi and Kathi Fisler (adjunct), continues to extend its reach. Bootstrap has just announced a partnership to use its approach to building systems to teach modeling in physics, an important component of the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS). This project is a collaboration with STEMTeachersNYC, the American Association of Physics Teachers, and the American Modeling Teachers Association.

Source: CS Blog: Bootstrap Announces A New STEM Education Model That Combines Computing, Modeling, And Physics

May 18, 2016 at 7:45 am 9 comments

Factors that Increase Students’ Interest in Becoming a Middle or High School Computing Teacher

These are the right sort of questions to be asking, and then using when creating real programs.  How would we get more undergraduate computing majors to consider teaching?  We can’t do much about salary.  Free tuition and student loan forgiveness are feasible and could result in many more teachers (and are being explored by ECEP states).

CERP asked undergraduate computing majors what would increase their interest in becoming a middle or high school computing teacher. As seen in the above graphic, financial incentive in the form of a higher teaching salary, free tuition for teacher training, and forgiven student loans were the top factors increasing students’ interest in becoming a middle or high school computing teacher. These findings provide insights into how to generate more computing educators for the K-12 school system, which is becoming increasingly important, given recent efforts to promote widespread K-12 computing education.

Source: Factors that Increase Students’ Interest in Becoming a Middle or High School Computing Teacher – CRN

May 11, 2016 at 7:45 am 6 comments

What really happens to new CS PhDs? A glut of PhDs, even in Engineering.

I was surprised to see the numbers quoted below.  PhD unemployment is that high? Aman Yadav just pointed me to an article in The Atlantic, with even more depressing news about the number of years to PhD, the debt after PhD, and the percentage of unemployment — see here.

CS is grouped into Engineering, so I tried to find the stats just on CS PhD’s.  The 2014 Taulbee survey (see link here) says “The unemployment rate for new Ph.D.s again this year was below one percent.” But goes on to say, “The fraction of new Ph.D.s whose employment status was unknown was 19.7 percent in 2013-14; in 2012-13 it was 20.8 percent. It is possible that the lack of information about the employment of more than one in six graduates skews the real overall percentages for certain employment categories.”  It’s not clear that we know what happens to new CS PhD’s, and what the real unemployment rate is.

Percent of Doctorate Recipients With Job or Postdoc Commitments, by Field of Study

Field     2004 2009 2014

All        70.0% 69.5% 61.4%

Life sciences    71.2% 66.8% 57.9%

Physical sciences    71.5% 72.1% 63.8%

Social sciences    71.3% 72.9% 68.8%

Engineering    63.6% 66.8% 57.0

Education    74.6% 71.6% 64.6%

Humanities    63.4% 63.3% 54.3%

Source: Starving the Beast | The Professor Is In

May 4, 2016 at 8:32 am 8 comments

What does it mean to reach “all” in #CS4All? Qualify your Quantifiers | blog@CACM

I’ve raised the concern before that the CS for All effort might mean “CS for only the rich” (see post here). Our data from Georgia suggest that few students are actually getting access to CS education, even if there is a CS teacher in the school (see post here).  Kathi Fisler, Shriram Krishnamurthi, and Emmanuel Schanzer offer a Blog@CACM post where they consider how we make sure that #CS4All is equitable.

Mandating every child take a computing class is a great way to ensure everyone takes CS, but very few states, cities, or even school districts are in a position to hire enough dedicated CS teachers or offer dedicated CS classes to reach every child. Recent declarations from several major districts that “every child will learn to code” often place impossible burdens on schools. Similarly, few schools can afford to offer CS programs that require cutting-edge computers, expensive consumables, or technology that requires significant maintenance.

To truly achieve CS4All Students in a sustainable way, equity and scale are issues that must be built in by design. Similarly, initiatives have to think about differently-abled users from scratch, not just bolt them on as an afterthought. Accessibility needs to be designed into software, curriculum, and pedagogy from the earliest stages.

The “move fast and break things” culture of computing is no help here. Right now, computing education has enormous attention. That day will pass. By the time we get around to focusing on equity, we may have depleted the energy left to overhaul computing curricula. Instead, we have to think this through at the very outset. Another computing principle is that products typically get one shot at gaining users’ attention. For the foreseeable future, this is that one shot for computing education.

Source: Qualify your Quantifiers | blog@CACM | Communications of the ACM

April 29, 2016 at 8:32 am 4 comments

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