Posts tagged ‘curriculum’

Survey to inform the next round of Computing Curricula

The Association for Computing Machinery (ACM) and the IEEE Computer Society (IEEE-CS) with support from other organizations are producing a new curricular report titled, “Computing Curricula 2020: An Overview Report” (CC2020) in an effort to retain global currency in the computing curricula guidelines.  We reach out to you because we value your opinion in this effort. We invite you to participate in this project by responding to a brief survey found at the URL
where you can provide your comments by responding to the survey prompts.  The survey should take between 3 and 5 minutes, we do apologize for any cross postings
Thank you in advance for your time and valuable contributions to this project.
—The CC2020 Task Force

May 22, 2017 at 7:00 am Leave a comment

We have to teach where the students are: Response to “How We Teach Should Be Independent Of Who We Are Teaching”

Valerie Barr has great insights into computing education, especially with regards to diversity (e.g., see the blog post last CS Ed Week about alternative ways to view data about diversity in computing).  I like what she has to say in her most recent Blog@CACM blog post, but I think the title is somewhat misleading.

“How we teach should be independent of who we are teaching” is clearly not true.  No one would argue for teaching Linux kernel developing via all day long bootcamps in C to middle school students.  Few people use CS Unplugged with machine learning graduate students. What Valerie is explicitly addressing in her blog post is an issue called essentialism.

As we continue efforts to diversify computing, we cannot afford to paint any group in a monochromatic way.  We have to embrace the richness of today’s student population by making what we teach meaningful and relevant to them.  There are women who want to geek out about hard-core tech, and there are men who care deeply about computing for the social good.  There are students of all genders and ethnic and racial backgrounds who will be happy with an old-fashioned lecture, and those who will thrive on active learning with examples drawn from a range of cultures and application areas. Many students will be motivated by knowing how the techniques and subject matter they’re learning fit into their future workplace or life goals.

Source: How We Teach Should Be Independent Of Who We Are Teaching | blog@CACM | Communications of the ACM

Here’s a definition of essentialism (from the Geek Feminism Wiki):

The concept of Essentialism states that there are innate, essential differences between men and women. That is, we are born with certain traits. This is often used as an explanation for why there are so few women in science and technology.

In contrast, the critical issue is who is in your classroom, what do they know, and what are their motivations. As How People Learn describes it:

There is a good deal of evidence that learning is enhanced when teachers pay attention to the knowledge and beliefs that learners bring to a learning task, use this knowledge as a starting point for new instruction, and monitor students’ changing conceptions as instruction proceeds.

This is hard to do. We can’t redesign every class for each new student population. What I think Valerie is admonishing us to do is to actually check and not assume certain interests and motivations because of the demographics of the students. When we were developing Media Computation, we did focus groups with students to get their feedback on our developing designs. We surveyed the students to get a sense of what they were interested in and what motivated them. Great work like Unlocking the Clubhouse suggested our starting point, but we did not assume that the majority-female class would have stereotypical responses. We checked with our student population, and we provided different kinds of media interactions to attract different kinds of students within our population.

It would be best if we could provide educational opportunities that meet each student’s needs individually. Short of that, we can design for the students who enter our classrooms, not for the stereotypes that we might expect.

October 24, 2016 at 7:36 am Leave a comment

Have We Reached a Consensus on a National CS Curriculum? I hope not

Alfred Thompson raises an important question here.  I agree with him — we haven’t reached consensus.  We also will never have a national CS curriculum in the United States, because we have a distributed education model.  It’s a state decision.  I do fear that there may be a de facto standard now.

But the bigger concern is at a higher level of abstraction: How should we make curricular decisions in CS (or anywhere else)?  I hope that we make our decisions based on empirical evidence.  I don’t see that we have the empirical evidence that any of the below classes ought to be the dominant model.

Oh boy are things up in the air in the HS CS curriculum these days. While we have some great advice from the CSTA (CSTA K-12 Computer Science Standards) the implementation of those standards are still left up to individual schools/districts/states. Still it is easy to come to the conclusion from watching social media and some conferences that there is a consensus on a high school Computer Science curriculum. Today I got the following from a friend.

Is it an incorrect read or has a national consensus for CS in HS’s been achieved with a sequence of :

–ECS (Exploring Computer Science) Curriculum

–CS Principles/BJC Curriculum (Beauty and Joy of Computing)

–AP CS (JAVA [for now])

via Computer Science Teacher: Have We Reached a Consensus on a National CS Curriculum?.

July 8, 2014 at 9:02 am 2 comments

Mehran Sahami wins ACM Presidential Award for the CS2013 Curriculum Revision

This is really well-deserved. Mehran worked amazingly hard to pull a wide range of stakeholders together for the CS2013 curriculum. The ACM Presidential Award is discretionary — they only give it out if someone really deserves it. Glad to see Mehran getting this recognition!

  • For outstanding leadership of, and commitment to, the three-year ACM/IEEE-CS effort to produce CS2013  a comprehensive revision of the curricular guidelines for undergraduate programs in computer science

Mehran Sahami of Stanford University, recipient of the ACM Presidential Award for leading the revision of an innovative computer science curriculum that reflects the application of computing tools in a wide variety of disciplines. Sahami led the effort by ACM and the IEEE Computer Society to develop guidelines for undergraduate degree programs that redefine essential computing topics and set the standards for computer science education worldwide for the next decade. The report includes examples of flexible courses and curricula models for a broad range of higher education institutions worldwide.


via ACM Presidential Award – ACM Award.

April 24, 2014 at 9:22 am 3 comments

I don’t believe it: Early STEM Education Will Lead to More Women in IT

I don’t believe the main propositions of the article below. Not all STEM education will lead to more women discovering an interest in IT.  Putting computing as a mandatory subject in all schools will not necessarily improve motivation and engagement in CS, and it’s a long stretch to say that that will lead to more people in IT jobs.

I addressed the quote below, by Ashley Gavin, in my Blog@CACM post for this month: The Danger of Requiring CS in US K-12 Schools.

“You make it an option, the girl is not going to take it. You have to make it mandatory and start it at a young age,” says Ashley Gavin, curriculum director at Girls Who Code, a nonprofit working to expose more girls to computer science at a young age that has drawn support from leading tech firms such as Google, Microsoft and Intel.

“It’s important to start early because, most of the fields that people go into, they have exposure before they get to college. We all study English before we get to college, we all study history and … social studies before we get to college,” Gavin says. “No one has any idea what computer science is. By the time you get to college, you develop fear of things you don’t know. Therefore early exposure is really important.”

via Early STEM Education Will Lead to More Women in IT –

April 22, 2014 at 9:03 am 28 comments

The ACM/IEEE 2013 CS Curriculum is released (in the nick of time!)

Posted by Mehran Sahami to the SIGCSE members list. Congratulations to the team for finishing it in time.

Dear Colleagues,

We are delighted to announce the release of the ACM/IEEE-CS Computer Science
Curricula 2013 (CS2013) Final Report. The report is available at the CS2013
website ( or directly at:
(The report will also soon be posted at the ACM website as well as at

The CS2013 Final Report contains guidance for undergraduate programs in
computer science, including a revised Body of Knowledge, over 80 course
exemplars (showing how the CS2013 Body of
Knowledge may be covered in a variety of actual fielded courses), and 5 full
curricular exemplars from a variety of educational institutions. The report
also contains discussions of characteristics of CS graduates, design
dimensions in introductory courses, and institutional challenges in CS
programs, among other topics. The report has been endorsed by both the ACM
and IEEE-Computer Society. We hope you find it useful.

To cite the CS2013 report, please use the canonical citation provided below
in ACM format and BibTex.

ACM format:
ACM/IEEE-CS Joint Task Force on Computing Curricula. 2013. Computer Science
Curricula 2013. ACM Press and IEEE Computer Society Press. DOI:

title = {Computer Science Curricula 2013},
author = {ACM/IEEE-CS Joint Task Force on Computing Curricula},
month = {December},
year = {2013},
institution = {ACM Press and IEEE Computer Society Press},
url = {},
doi = {10.1145/2534860}

Warm regards,
Mehran Sahami and Steve Roach
Co-Chairs, CS2013 Steering Committee

CS2013 Steering Committee

ACM Delegation
Mehran Sahami, Chair (Stanford University)
Andrea Danyluk (Williams College)
Sally Fincher (University of Kent)
Kathleen Fisher (Tufts University)
Dan Grossman (University of Washington)
Beth Hawthorne (Union County College)
Randy Katz (UC Berkeley)
Rich LeBlanc (Seattle University)
Dave Reed (Creighton University)

IEEE-CS Delegation
Steve Roach, Chair (Exelis Inc.)
Ernesto Cuadros-Vargas (Univ. Catolica San Pablo, Peru)
Ronald Dodge (US Military Academy)
Robert France (Colorado State University)
Amruth Kumar (Ramapo College of New Jersey)
Brian Robinson (ABB Corporation)
Remzi Seker (Embry-Riddle Aeronautical Univ.)
Alfred Thompson (Microsoft)

December 30, 2013 at 10:42 am 1 comment

Why Flipping Classrooms Might Not Make Much Difference

This paper is getting a lot of discussion here at Georgia Tech:

In preliminary research, professors at Harvey Mudd College haven’t found that students learn more or more easily in so-called flipped courses than in traditional classes, USA Today reports. In flipped courses, students watch professors’ lectures online before coming to class, then spend the class period in discussions or activities that reinforce and advance the lecture material.

Earlier this year, the National Science Foundation gave four professors at the college in Claremont, Calif., a three-year grant for $199,544 to study flipped classrooms. That research isn’t complete yet, but the professors already tried flipping their own classes last year and found “no statistical difference” in student outcomes.

via QuickWire: ‘Flipping’ Classrooms May Not Make Much Difference – Wired Campus – The Chronicle of Higher Education.

The reason why it’s generating a lot of discussion is because we know that it can make a difference to flip a classroom.  Jason Day and Jim Foley here at Georgia Tech did a careful and rigorous evaluation of a flipped classroom seven years ago (see IEEE paper on their study).  We all know this study and take pride in it — it was really well done.  It can work.  The Harvey Mudd study also shows that it can be done in a way that it doesn’t work. 

That’s really the story for all educational technology.  It can work, but it’s not guaranteed to work.  It’s always possible to implement any educational technology (or any educational intervention at all) in such a way that it doesn’t work.

November 13, 2013 at 1:28 am 13 comments

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