Posts tagged ‘undergraduate education’
Annie Murphy Paul is talking about inclusive teaching here, but she could just as well be talking about active learning. The stages are similar (recall the responses to my proposal to build active learning methods into hiring, promotion, and tenure packages). These are particularly critical for computing where we have so little diversity and CS teachers are typically poor at teaching for diverse audiences.
Stages of Inclusive Teaching Acceptance
Denial: “I treat all my students the same. I don’t see race/ethnicity/gender/sexual orientation/nationality/disability. They are just people.”
Anger: “This is all just social science nonsense! Why won’t everyone just get over this PC stuff? When I went to grad school, we never worried about diversity.”
Bargaining: “If I make one change in my syllabus, will you leave me alone?”
Depression: “Maybe I’m not cut out to teach undergraduates. They’re so different now. Maybe I just don’t understand.”
Overwhelmed: “There is so much I didn’t know about teaching, learning, and diversity. How can I possibly accommodate for every kind of student?”
Acceptance: “I realize that who my students are and who I am influences how we interact with STEM. I can make changes that will help students learn better and make them want to be part of our community.”
My daughter is enrolled in Georgia’s “Governor’s Honor Program” which started this week. The program is highly competitive — my daughter filled out multiple applications, wrote essays, and went through two rounds of interviews. Over 700 high school students from across Georgia attend for four weeks of residential classes on a university campus for free.
At the parent’s orientation, we heard from two former GHP students, the Dean of Student Life, the Dean of Residence Halls, the GHP Program Manager, and the Dean of Instruction. It’s that last one who really got me.
“You heard from these students, and many other students. GHP changes lives. There is magic in our program.“
The program sounds remarkable. No grades, no tests. The Dean of Instruction said she told the teachers to “give these students learning opportunities beyond what’s in any high school classroom.” Students are only there to learn for learning’s sake.
I was thrilled for my daughter, that she was going to have this experience. I was also thrilled as a teacher.
I want to teach in a program whose leadership says, “There is magic in our program. Our program changes lives.” Last week, I took my daughter to tour three universities. Our daughter is the youngest of three, so I’ve attended other prospective student tours at other universities. I’ve never heard anybody at any of these universities make that kind of claim.
I don’t mean to critique my leadership at Georgia Tech in particular. When I was the Undergraduate Program Director, I never said anything like that to my teachers or to prospective parents. I am critical of higher education more broadly. Higher education in America sets goals like preparing students for careers, giving them experiences abroad and in research, giving them options so that they can tailor their program to meet their particular desires, and surrounding them with great fellow students — I’ve heard all of those claims many times on many tours. I’ve never heard anyone say, “We change lives.”
Rich DeMillo argued in his book Apple to Abelard that higher education institutions need to differentiate from one another. Offering the same thing in the same way makes it hard to compete with the on-line and for-profit options. At Georgia Tech, the faculty are frequently told, “We get amazingly smart students.” We’re told to think about how to tune our education for these super-smart students. I’ve never been told, “Give these students experiences beyond what they will get in any other program. Create magic. Change their lives.”
What I gained at GHP is a new definition for what higher education should be about. We need to step up our game.
We’ve talked about this problem before — that it looks like we’re graduating fewer CS undergraduates, despite rising enrollment. Interesting analysis in The Chronicle:
Aside from looking remarkably like the Cisco logo itself a representation of San Francisco’s iconic Golden Gate Bridge, the chart clearly shows fluctuation in interest among undergraduates and graduates in computer science.The reason for that fluctuation isn’t clear from the graph, but we have a couple of theories:
1. The pipeline was primed: In the 1970s and 1980s, many elementary, middle, and high schools taught computer programming to students, according to Joanna Goode. As an associate professor of education studies at the University of Oregon, Ms. Goode has researched access for women and students of color in computer science.“But, as the PC revolution took place, the introduction to the CD-ROMS and other prepackaged software, and then the Internet, changed the typical school curriculum from a programming approach to a ‘computer literacy’ skill-building course about ‘how to use the computer,’”…
2. The job market: Fluctuations in college-degree attainment are often connected to fluctuations in the job market in certain industries.
Last month, I wrote about the new NSF program Improving Undergraduate Stem Education (see NSF page on IUSE here). I talked to Jane Prey about this program a couple weeks ago, and she was concerned. She said that lots of people are expressing doubt about applying for a program that only has a single page description–not the standard multi-page solicitation.
That’s exactly why this is the time to apply! IUSE doesn’t have a solicitation this year, but most likely will in future years. That means that anything goes this year! If you have any idea that you want to get funded, THIS is the year to apply.
The program description is wonderfully broad:
- Want to work on broadening participation in computing? It’s there: “broadening participation of individuals and institutions in STEM fields.”
- Want to work on after school programs, service learning, new ways of structuring your department, formal education research, new ways of measuring learning? It’s all there: “experiential learning, assessment/metrics of learning and practice, scholarships, foundational education research, professional development/institutional change, formal and informal learning environments.”
Want to work on teacher professional development, or even adult learners? It’s there: “educating a STEM-literate populace, improving K-12 STEM education, encouraging life-long learning, and building capacity in higher education.”
In short, the lack of a formal solicitation means that there are few barriers. You should go for it.
From here on, this is my advice based on talking with NSF program managers and having written (rejected mostly, but a bunch accepted) proposals. This is not coming from NSF:
- You need to demonstrate that your proposal has intellectual merit and broader impacts. That’s part of any NSF proposal.
- No, there’s nothing there that says you must have evaluation, but if you read phrases like “empirically validated teaching practices,” you have to believe that funded proposals will have good evaluation. You can probably be competitive without an external evaluator if you come up with a good evaluation plan in the proposal body itself. If you don’t know how to do this, bring in an external evaluator.
- The really tough part of applying to a program without a solicitation is deciding how much to budget. Here’s me just gazing into a crystal ball: Smaller but realistic budgets have the greatest chance of getting funded. If you can do your project in $100-200K/year for two to three years, you increase your odds of getting funded. I think there’s a psychological barrier for review committees at a $1M proposal, so stay below that or make your really proposal great.
The big message is: Apply on February 4, 2014. Take this rare opportunity to get your wildest and most exciting ideas on the table at NSF.
I appreciate “Gas station without pumps” recent blog post on how to design service courses. I strongly agree with the emphasis on giving students skills to do useful things now. The greatest need for computing education is in the courses for non-CS majors.
It is never enough, even in a course for majors, to design the course around “they’ll need this later”. It is far better to make them want to know it now, for things that they can do now. For the Applied Circuits course, I concentrated ton the students doing design and construction in the labs, with just enough theory to do the design. This is a big contrast to the traditional circuits course, which is all theory and math which EE students will use “later”—totally useless if the students then never take another EE course.
Neil Brown announced this at ICER last week. The new version of BlueJ now anonymously logs user actions onto a server for analysis by researchers. I just signed up to get access to the site. I have a couple of ideas for research projects using these data. It’s pretty exciting: Big data comes to computing education research!
We have begun a data collection project, called Blackbox, to record the actions of BlueJ users. We’re inviting all the BlueJ users (with the latest version, 3.1.0, onwards) to take part. About 2 months in to the project, we already have 25,000 users who have agreed to take part, with 1,000 sending us data each day. Based on current estimates, I expect that in November 2013 we should see around 5,000 users sending data each day, with a total of over 100,000 users. Rather than hoarding the data, we are making this data available to other computing education researchers for use in their own research, so that we can all benefit from this project.
This is our problem in computing, too. If students have never seen a computer science course before coming to college, they won’t know what hits them when they walk in the door.
Experts estimate that less than 40 percent of students who enter college as STEM majors actually wind up earning a degree in science, technology, engineering or math.
Those who don’t make it to the finish line typically change course early on. Just ask Mallory Hytes Hagan, better known as Miss America 2013.
Hagan enrolled at Auburn University as a biomedical science major, but transferred to the Fashion Institute of Technology a year later to pursue a career in cosmetics and fragrance marketing.
“I found out I wasn’t as prepared as I should be,” Hagan said during a panel discussion today at the 2013 U.S. News STEM Solutions conference in Austin. “I hit that first chem lab and thought, ‘Whoa. What’s going on?'”