Posts tagged ‘teachers’
Back at the NCWIT meeting last May, we in ECEP (Expanding Computing Education Pathways Alliance) started promoting a four step process for starting to improve computing education in your state (see blog post here):
- Find a Leader(s)
- Figure out where you are and how you change
- Gather your allies
- Get initial funding.
Part of Step 2 includes writing a Landscape Report. Does your state count CS towards high school graduation? As what? Who decides? Who can teach CS? Is there a CS curriculum? Do you have a Pathway? Do you have a certificate or endorsement to teach CS in your state? There are several of these available at the CSTA website, such as one from South Carolina and another on Maryland.
ECEP now has a page with resources for gathering data for a landscape report — see below.
Where is your state now? The resources linked below can help you quickly find state-level data about the status of computer science education in your state. These are good starting points for putting together a landscape report that answers common questions on CS education in your state.
Barb and I went to this last year, and it was terrific — diverse and high-quality.
Call for Papers and Participation:
We invite you to submit a paper, report, or poster for the 10th Workshop in Primary and Secondary Computing Education (WiPSCE 2015) and join us inLondon, United Kingdom, on November 9-11, 2015. WiPSCE aims at improving the exchange of research and practice relevant to teaching and learning in primary and secondary computing education, teacher training, and related research.
Important 2015 Dates
Submission deadline: Monday, June 1
Re-submission deadline: Monday, June 8
Notification of acceptance: Monday, July 27
Submission of revised manuscripts: Monday, September 15
Early Registration deadline: Monday, October 19
Original submissions in all areas related to primary and secondary computing education are invited in the following categories:
- Full paper (6-10 pages): expected to meet one of two categories – empirical research papers and philosophical research papers
- Work in progress (3-4 pages): unpublished original research in progress
- Practical report (4-6 pages): unpublished, original projects in the field of “primary and secondary computing education”
- Posters (2 page abstract)
- Learning: attitudes, beliefs, motivation, misconceptions, learning difficulties, student engagement with educational technology (e.g., visualization), conceptualization of computing
- Teaching: teaching approaches, teaching methods, teaching with educational technology
- Content: curricular aspects, learning standards, tools, educational approaches, context relevant teaching, assessment
- Institutional aspects: establishing and enhancing computing education, professional development
Special Theme:Computing? How young is too young?
For more information, please contact:
Judith Gal-Ezer: email@example.com
Sue Sentence: firstname.lastname@example.org
Jan Vahrenhold: email@example.com
UToronto TA’s and graduate student instructors on strike: Pay and teaching are inversely correlated in Universities today
The graduate student Teaching Assistants and Instructors at the University of Toronto are on strike. I wouldn’t normally be aware about graduate student labor disputes in other countries, but UToronto has an active CS Education research group and at least one (very) active CS Ed PhD student, Elizabeth Patitsas who was in the ICER Doctoral Consortium last year. The website on the strike (see link below and here) is interesting in describing the situation for Canadian PhD students, both what’s different than in the US (Toronto PhD students pay tuition — it isn’t waived for them) and what’s similar. I’ll bet that the fact 3.5% of the university budget pays for 65% of the teaching is just as true in the US. The Chronicle had an article recently titled Teach or Perish (see link here) with this claim (that I’m quite certain is true where I’m at, success is measured in terms of salary): “While teaching undergraduates is, normally, a large part of a professor’s job, success in our field is correlated with a professor’s ability to avoid teaching undergraduates.”
Graduate students in PhD programs continue to pay full tuition – almost $8,000 – even when they are not enrolled in courses. In return, graduate students receive the ‘privilege’ of underpaid work for the University, a library card, and meetings with supervisors. All comparable universities in North America offer post-residency fees or tuition wavers for graduate students finished with course work. The university rejected our proposals for similar provisions.
CUPE 3902 membership has been without a permanent contract for more than eight months, despite carrying out more than 65% of the teaching across the three campuses at the University of Toronto.
The university allocates a mere 3.5% of its $1.9 billion budget to CUPE 3902 workers, the vast majority of which comes from tuition and taxes.
via We Are UofT.
Hadi Partovi of Code.org 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.
The Individual Teacher versus the Educational System: What if Finland’s great teachers taught in U.S. schools?
I highly recommend the article below, for the perspective above all. The issue of “If we fix teachers, do we fix the American educational system” is discussed below and in a recent Freakonomics podcast (see link here). The Freakonomics team comes to the same conclusion as below — no, the home life is a far bigger factor than any particular teacher.
But I’m more struck by the focus on the education system more than the individual teacher in the below essay. If your focus is on the education system, then the goal shouldn’t be to identify and get rid of the “bad” teachers. In the end, that’s just one teacher in a whole system. You’re better off improving the system, by making the teachers as good as possible (e.g., with high-quality professional development, and lots of it). Develop your teachers, and the system improves itself.
The comments about Teach for America are relevant to the TEALS program, too. If we value teaching as a profession and want highly-skilled, prepared, and experienced teachers, then you don’t take newbies and make them teachers. Make them assistants, or make them para-professionals. Take a legitimate peripheral participation approach and let them help on the edges. But keep the teacher front-and-center, valuing her or him for the experience and development that she or he brings to the classroom — don’t try to replace the teacher with someone who doesn’t have that experience and preparation.
When I told Barbara Ericson about these comments, she countered that I’m assuming that (with respect to computer science) schools have these well-prepared and experienced teachers. She says that she’s seen whole districts without a single teacher with preparation as a CS teacher — but they’re teaching CS. She argues that in most schools, a TEALS professional could not be just an assistant or para-professional, because the teacher can’t adequately support the course on his or her own.
In recent years the “no excuses”’ argument has been particularly persistent in the education debate. There are those who argue that poverty is only an excuse not to insist that all schools should reach higher standards. Solution: better teachers. Then there are those who claim that schools and teachers alone cannot overcome the negative impact that poverty causes in many children’s learning in school. Solution: Elevate children out of poverty by other public policies.
For me the latter is right. In the United States today, 23 percent of children live in poor homes. In Finland, the same way to calculate child poverty would show that figure to be almost five times smaller. The United States ranked in the bottom four in the recent United Nations review on child well-being. Among 29 wealthy countries, the United States landed second from the last in child poverty and held a similarly poor position in “child life satisfaction.” Teachers alone, regardless of how effective they are, will not be able to overcome the challenges that poor children bring with them to schools everyday.
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.
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.
I’m sure that there were a lot of outreach activities going on in Georgia, too. I wasn’t involved in those. I want to report on two points of progress in Georgia that was more at an infrastructural level.
Chris Klaus (as I mentioned in this blog previously) has gathered stakeholders in a “Georgia Coding” group to push on improving computing in Georgia. That effort bore fruit during CSedWeek. Georgia had its first “Day of Code,” but Barb and I were most excited to visit the Georgia Professional Standards Commission website on Monday to see this:
All the high school IT/CS classes in Georgia can now be taught by teachers with Mathematics or Science certifications. Previously, only Business Education and Mathematics teachers could teach AP CS, and only Business Education teachers could teach other IT/CS classes. (Even though AP CS counted as a science credit, science teachers couldn’t teach it.) Now, it’s all open. It’s much easier to teach Math and Science teachers about CS than Business Education teachers. Now, we have a much larger pool of possible teachers to recruit into CS classes. I’m grateful that Georgia House Representative Mike Dudgeon took this from the Georgia Coding group and made it happen.
On Thursday, I hosted a Transfer Summit at Georgia Tech. We had 15 attendees from 11 different institutions in the University System of Georgia, some two-year-mostly institutions and others four-year degree institutions.
The goal was to ease transfer between the schools. This was a strategy that CAITE used successfully to increase the diversity in computing programs in Massachusetts. Two year programs are much more diverse than universities (see some data here), but only about 25% of the students who want to transfer do so. Part of our strategy with ECEP is to set up these meetings where we get schools to smooth out the bumps to ease the transition.
I learned a lot about transfer at this meeting. For example, I learned that it’s often unsuccessful to have students take all their General Education requirements at the two-year institution and then transfer to the four-year institution, because that leaves just intense CS classes for the last two years — no easier classes. At some schools, the pre-requisite chains prevent students from even getting a full load of just-CS classes, since students have to pass the pre-req before they can take the follow-on class.
At the end of the meeting, we had 9 new transfer agreements in-progress. Some of the participants had come to a similar meeting last year, and they said that they were able to make more progress this year because they knew what to have ready. Wayne Summers from Columbus State actually came with a whole new agreement with Georgia Perimeter College (a two-year institution) already worked out and ready to discuss with GPC representatives. I was grateful that GPC brought three faculty to the meeting, so that they could have multiple agreements worked out in parallel.
Getting math and science teachers into high school CS classes and helping students in two-year institutions move on to bachelors degrees isn’t as flashy as the Hour of Code and programming at White House. Teacher certifications and transfer agreements are important when we move beyond the first hour and want to create pathways for students to pursue computing through graduation.