Posts tagged ‘high school CS’

Student and Teacher CSP Ebooks are now Available

We now have TWO ebooks supporting CS Principles (see website here) now available — one for teachers and one for students.

Our teacher ebook summer study is now ended. (Announcement about launching the study is here.) We’re crunching the data now. We’ve already learned a lot about what teachers want in an ebook. We learned where our user interface wasn’t obvious, and where we needed to explain more. We learned that teachers expect end-of-chapter exercises. We have used what we have learned so far to produce the two new ebooks.

STUDENT CSP EBOOK: About a year ago, we received additional NSF funding (from the Improving Undergraduate STEM Education (IUSE) program) to develop a student version of our CSP ebook. We have been running participatory design studies and gathering usability surveys from students to get input on what a student ebook should look like. We have now released the first version of the student ebook.

The student CSP ebook is available at  It doesn’t require a login, but we recommend that teachers have their students login. Without a login, we store saved answers on the local computer, but if the student logs in, we save the answers by the student’s username.  The course name is StudentCSP.

We recommend that teachers create a custom version of the student ebook for your students.  This allows teachers to customize the ebook, assign homework, and view student’s progress, and even create additional assessments for students.

New Version TEACHER CSP EBOOK: We iterated on our teacher ebook at the same time that we were developing the student ebook. We hypothesize that the student CSP ebook may actually encourage teachers to complete the teacher ebook. We can imagine that teachers who use the student ebook might want to stay one step ahead of the students, e.g., “My students are starting Chapter 3 on Monday, so I better finish Chapter 3 this weekend.”

We have now created a second version of our teacher CSP ebook. This one is in lockstep with the student CSP ebook, includes all the end-of-chapter exercise answers and teacher notes (e.g., on how to teach particular concepts, common student difficulties, etc.). We are not making the second teacher ebook available openly (because it includes answers to the student problems).

Teachers, please contact us at with the name and location of your school, and we’ll send you the URL.

We recommend that teachers create their own course for their students.  See for why a teacher might want to build a custom course and how to do it.

  • You must register on Runestone first at Enter StudentCSP as the course name. Be sure to record your username. We find that users often forget what they entered and assume it was their e-mail address — and it may not have been. You can also choose to sign in with your account on Google Plus, Facebook, Twitter, or several others.
  • Then go to and select “Create your own Course”.
  • Create a unique name for your course (use your school name and StudentCSP and year maybe), add a description, and your institution, and then select “CS Principles: Big Ideas in Programming by Mark Guzdial, Barbara Ericson, and Briana Morrison“.
  • Leave the rest as defaults and click the “Submit” button.  This will build a custom version of the student ebook for your students and it will have a unique URL and course name.  You will be listed as the instructor and can look at the log files and view other information on the instructor page (you can get to this by clicking on the icon that looks like a head and shoulders and the top right of your screen when you are in the ebook).

September 25, 2015 at 8:00 am 6 comments

Statistics worrying about losing ground to CS: Claim that CS isn’t worthy

The linked blog post below bemoans the fact that the AP CS is growing, perhaps at the expense of growth in AP Statistics.  AP Stats is still enormously successful, but the part of the post that’s most interesting is the author’s complaints about what’s wrong with CS.  I read it as, “Students should know that CS is not worthy of their attention.”

It’s always worthwhile to consider thoughtful critiques seriously.  The author’s points about CS being mostly free of models and theories is well taken.  I do believe that there are theories and models used in many areas of CS, like networking, programming languages, and HCI. I don’t believe that most CS papers draw on them or build on them. It’s an empirical question, and unfortunately, we have the answer for computing education research.  A recent multi-national study concluded that less than half of the papers in computing education research draw on or build on any theory (see paper here).

Though the Stat leaders seem to regard all this as something of an existential threat to the well-being of their profession, I view it as much worse than that. The problem is not that CS people are doing Statistics, but rather that they are doing it poorly: Generally the quality of CS work in Stat is weak. It is not a problem of quality of the researchers themselves; indeed, many of them are very highly talented. Instead, there are a number of systemic reasons for this, structural problems with the CS research “business model.”

Source: Statistics: Losing Ground to CS, Losing Image Among Students

September 16, 2015 at 7:36 am 7 comments

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

CSTA – Oracle Survey: Access to and Understanding of Computer Science Education in US Schools

A new survey from both CSTA and Oracle.  None of the findings are too surprising.  What’s probably surprising is that this picture doesn’t seem too different from past CSTA surveys (see list of all of them here).  Efforts like the Hour of Code are reaching lots of students, but may not yet be making much impact on most schools and districts.

In addition, participants applied the term “computer science” to a vast array of topics and courses, many of which were submitted as “other” courses in response to the topics that were provided in the survey. Participants classified studies in business management, yearbook layout, artificial intelligence, robotics, office applications, and automated design as computer science courses. This broad use of “computer science” to encompass curriculum and courses that would not be considered “computer science” at a college/university or professional level indicates a need for educational community consensus on a common definition of computer science education and curricular content, lest we lead students or teachers to believe they are preparing students for college and careers when in fact, they are not. This perhaps begs the question whether “computer science” as a designation is being applied inappropriately for funding or other reasons.

Administrators stated that the most prevalent computer science course offered was Web Design and Development, followed by Intro to Computer Science with 54% of the schools offering it in grade 9, 47% offering it in grade 10, 39% offering it in grade 11, 37% offering it in grade 12, and only 27% offering at least one intro to CS course all four years. These were followed by computer graphics and programming. The top four content areas covered in computer science courses were listed as problem solving at 65%, ethical and social issues and graphics tied at 57%, and web development at 51%. However, analysis of algorithms came in at 35% as did testing and debugging. Each of these content areas are core to computer science and in particular programming.

One of the most important findings from the study suggests that better-funded schools are offering CS to their students at a far higher rate than low-income schools. This research verifies what was only previously suspected. Of the 27% of schools where the majority of students qualify for free or reduced lunch, 63% offer computer science courses. Of the 44% of schools where the majority of students do not qualify for free lunch, 84% offer computer science courses.

via CSTA – OracleSurvey.

February 11, 2015 at 8:03 am Leave a comment

Predictions about education for 2015

There are lots of these kinds of lists around the beginning of a new year, but I thought that these predictions were interesting. I’m betting that the first one below is right, but I know a lot of people are betting against it. I’m seeing the second one in my discussions with K12 education policymakers in states.  They want their students to come out with “job skills,” which is hard to do with an introduction to computing designed for students who have no previous background.

10. Online learning will grow modestly (Eduventures): The company predicts that enrollment in wholly online degree programs will be modest this year, with only 2 percent growth due mostly to uncertainty and indecision among adult learners. At the same time, the percentage of colleges entering the online market will grow very little, if at all. “Growth will be stunted due to increased regulatory concerns such as state authorization, competition from large adult-serving providers, and enrollment strategies incapable of keeping pace with the savvyness of today’s adult learners,” it stated. “Institutions will back away from online programming to focus on blended learning and improving quality and access for traditional age students.”

11. Outcomes will dominate (Eduventures): Eduventures research shows that in 2013, “career preparation” surpassed “academic strength” as the top priority for both students and parents in selecting a school. Adding to parent and student concerns, the government has increased its focus on this issue, including the possibility of Title IV funding consequences. “Look for schools to become more aggressive in differentiating themselves in reporting outcomes data in 2015,” said the company.

via 15 higher-ed technology predictions for 2015 – Page 2 of 2 – eCampus News | eCampus News | 2.

January 20, 2015 at 7:03 am 1 comment

Search is on for new CSTA Executive Director

I wrote a while back about Chris Stephenson moving to Google.  It’s time to find a new executive director for CSTA!

The Computer Science Teachers Association (CSTA) announces its search for an Executive Director. The Executive Director must be deeply committed to CSTA’s core mission, which is to empower, support and advocate for K-12 computer science teachers worldwide. The Executive Director reports to and works collaboratively with the Board of Directors to set strategic direction, develop goals, attain/manage resources, and establish policies for the organization.

The Executive Director is responsible for the organization’s consistent achievement of its mission and financial objectives and ensures ongoing programmatic excellence, rigorous program evaluation, and consistent quality of finance, administration, fundraising, communications, and organizational systems.

This is a full-time position. The Executive Director manages a staff including an Assistant Director and four part-time administrators (meeting planner, web developer, project coordinator, and newsletter editor), and conducts their work from a virtual office. Considerable travel is required.

For position specifications, including key responsibilities, qualifications, and procedures for candidacy, please visit

January 17, 2015 at 8:56 am Leave a comment

Off to WIPSCE 2014: 9th Workshop in Primary and Secondary Computing Education in Berlin

Barbara and I are attending the WIPSCE 2014 conference, the 9th Workshop in Primary and Secondary Computing Education in Berlin. See the program here and the proceedings here.  I was impressed as a reviewer this year — the quality of papers at WIPSCE is exceptionally high.  There is worldwide interest in improving K-12 computing education, and reports are flowing into WIPSCE on research findings and lessons-learned from all over the world.

Barbara is presenting a short paper on Friday (with co-authors Tom McKlin and me) on “Preparing Secondary Computer Science Teachers Through an Iterative Development Process.”  She’s going to tell how her professional development effort at Georgia Tech developed, using feedback from Tom’s evaluation efforts.  She’ll offer some of her lessons learned, such as using teachers themselves as providers where ever possible, to establish leaders in the community of teachers and to make the PD more sustainable.

I am honored to be the keynote speaker on Thursday morning.  My talk is on “Preparing Teachers is Different than Preparing Software Developers.”  I’m going to talk about what teachers need to know and do that’s different from software developers, with a particular emphasis on pedagogical-content knowledge, on reading code more than writing code, and about writing code to learn rather than to produce software.  I’m still working on my talk.  The audience is going to be primary and secondary school CS teachers AND researchers and providers of teacher professional learning opportunities.  So, how much do I tell teachers things that they might find useful in the classroom, and how much do I tell results from research or give suggestions on how to facilitate teacher learning?  I’ll let you know how it goes.


November 5, 2014 at 7:55 am 4 comments

Older Posts

Recent Posts

November 2015
« Oct    


Blog Stats

  • 1,154,442 hits

Enter your email address to follow this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 3,667 other followers

CS Teaching Tips


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 3,667 other followers