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Should computer science fulfill a foreign language admissions requirement?

ComputingEd - 2 hours 18 min ago

An Atlanta-area PBS station did an article at the end of last year praising Georgia’s stance allowing CS to count as a foreign language: Is Computer Science A Foreign Language? Ga. Says Yes, Sees Boost In Enrollment | 90.1 FM WABE

The GT director of admissions was interviewed about this requirement in Insider HigherEd and had a much more reasonable take:

Rick Clark, director of undergraduate admissions at Georgia Institute of Technology, said he saw value in the steps by Georgia to encourage more study of computer science in elementary and secondary school.

“I like that kids, even in eighth and ninth grade, who are planning their path through school would take these courses, because basic coding and language will set them up for opportunities upon high school graduation that they would not have otherwise,” Clark said.

In fact, he said his concern is that access to computer science is unequal in Georgia high schools. Most of those who not only take a course, but are able to take Advanced Placement in computer science, are in the metro Atlanta area, Clark said. Georgia Tech is worried about these inequities and is exploring ways to use online instruction to make sure those outside the Atlanta area have access.

At the same time, Clark said, the push for computer science should not be viewed as either/or with foreign languages. He said Georgia Tech is “looking for students who demonstrate that international vision and interest,” and that he finds many of those applicants who are taking AP computer science in high school are also pursuing foreign language instruction as advanced levels.

More than half of Georgia Tech students participate in study abroad, he noted, and 10 percent of undergraduates are from outside the United States. “We are intent upon enrolling students who in high school chose to seek out that global perspective,” he said.

Source: Should computer science fulfill a foreign language admissions requirement?

What does it mean for Computer Science to be harder to learn than other STEM subjects?

ComputingEd - Fri, 01/19/2018 - 07:00

I made an argument in my Blog@CACM Post for this month that “Learning Computer Science is Different than Learning Other STEM Disciplines,” and on Twitter, I explicitly added “It’s harder.”

In my Blog@CACM post, I thought it was a no-brainer that CS is harder:

  1. Our infrastructure for teaching CS is younger, smaller, and weaker  (CS is so new, and we don’t have the decades of experience to figure out how to do it well yet.)

  2. We don’t realize how hard learning to program is (The fact that the Rainfall problem seems easy, but it’s clearly not easy, means that CS teachers don’t know how to estimate yet what’s hard for students, so our classes are probably harder than we mean them to be.)

  3. CS is so valuable that it changes the affective components of learning (Classes that are stuffed full of both CS majors and non-majors means that issues of self-efficacy, motivation, and belonging are much bigger in CS than in other STEM disciplines.)

The push back was really interesting.  People pointed out that they took CS classes and math classes, or CS and physics, and CS seemed easy in comparison.  They may be right, but that’s self-report on introspection by people who succeeded at both classes.  My point is that we are probably flunking out (or students are giving up, or opting out) of CS at much higher rates than any other STEM subject, because of the reasons I give.  We’re really using two different measures of “harder” — harder to succeed, or harder in retrospect once succeeded.

I only have a qualitative argument for “It’s harder.” I’m not sure how one would even evaluate the point empirically.  Any suggestions?  How could we measure when one subject is harder than another?

It’s not an important question to answer which is harder, CS vs math, or CS vs physics. A much more important and supportable claim is that CS “is harder” than it needs to be.  We have a lot of extraneous complexity and cognitive load in learning CS.

State of US science enterprise report shows US leads in S&E as China rapidly advances

News From NSF - Thu, 01/18/2018 - 12:00

According to the National Science Foundation's (NSF) Science and Engineering Indicators2018 report released today, the United States is the global leader in science and technology (S&T). However, the U.S. global share of S&T activities is declining as other nations -- especially China -- continue to rise.

The National Science Board (NSB) is the ...
More at https://www.nsf.gov/news/news_summ.jsp?cntn_id=244271&WT.mc_id=USNSF_51&WT.mc_ev=click


This is an NSF News item.

New, forward-looking report outlines research path to sustainable cities

News From NSF - Wed, 01/17/2018 - 06:00

In 1950, fewer than one-third of the world's people lived in cities. Today more than half do. By 2050, urban areas will be home to some two-thirds of Earth's human population.

"This scale and pace of urbanization has never been seen in human history," states a new report, Sustainable Urban Systems: Articulating a Long-Term Convergence Research Agenda.

The document was authored by members of the ...
More at https://www.nsf.gov/news/news_summ.jsp?cntn_id=244179&WT.mc_id=USNSF_51&WT.mc_ev=click


This is an NSF News item.

ICER 2018 Call for Participation (I’m co-chairing Works in Progress)

ComputingEd - Mon, 01/15/2018 - 07:30

Do submit to ICER 2018 in Finland.  I particularly encourage you to join the Works in Progress workshop, for which I’ll be the junior co-chair as I learn the ropes from Colleen Lewis. I was a participant in the Works in Progress workshop in Glasgow and found it fun and useful.

ICER’18 – Call For Participation

The fourteenth annual ACM International Computing Education Research (ICER) Conference aims to gather high-quality contributions to the computing education research discipline. We invite submissions across a variety of categories for research investigating how people of all ages come to understand computational processes and devices, and empirical evaluation of approaches to improve that understanding in formal and informal learning environments.


Research areas of particular interest include: – discipline based education research (DBER) in computer science (CS), information sciences (IS), and related disciplines – design-based research, learner-centered design, and evaluation of educational technology supporting computing knowledge or skills development – pedagogical environments fostering computational thinking – learning sciences work in the computing content domain – psychology of programming – learning analytics and educational data mining in CS/IS content areas – learnability/usability of programming languages – informal learning experiences related to programming and software development (all ages), ranging from after-school programs for children, to end-user development communities, to workplace training of computing professionals – measurement instrument development and validation (e.g., concept inventories, attitudes scales, etc) for use in computing disciplines – research on CS/computing teacher thinking and professional development models at all levels – rigorous replication of empirical work to compare with or extend previous empirical research results – systematic literature review on some topic related to computer science education


In addition to standard research paper contributions, we continue our longstanding commitment to fostering discussion and exploring new research areas by offering several ways to engage. These include a doctoral consortium for graduate students just prior to the conference, a work-in-progress workshop for researchers following the conference, and poster and lightning talks. This is in addition to the format of conference sessions, where all research paper presentations include time for discussion among the attendees followed by feedback to the paper presenters. Submission Categories ICER provides multiple options for participation, with various levels of discussion and interaction between the presenter and audience. These sessions also support work at various levels, ranging from formative work to polished, complete research results.


Research Papers Papers are limited to 8 pages, excluding references, double-blind peer reviewed and published in the ACM digital library as part of the conference proceedings. Accepted papers are allotted time for presentation and discussion at the conference


Doctoral Consortium 2 page extended abstract submission required and published in ACM digital library as part of the conference proceedings. Students will present their work to distinguished faculty mentors during an all-day workshop and during the conference in a dedicated poster session.


Lightning Talks and Posters Abstract (250 words) submission required and made available on conference website, but not published in proceedings. Accepted abstracts for lightning talks will be given a 3-minute time slot for rapid presentation at the conference followed by a discussion period for all attendees. Posters may either accompany a lightning talk or may be proposed separately using the same abstract submission process.


Work in Progress Workshop This one-day workshop is a venue to get sustained engagement with and feedback about early work in computing education.    White paper submission required but not included in proceedings.


Co-located Workshops Proposals for pre/post conference workshops of interest to the ICER community (i.e., those that aim to advance computer science education research) are welcomed and encouraged. ICER local arrangements personnel will be available to assist with workshop logistics where possible. If interested, contact the conference chairs for more details by April 10th, 2018: Lauri.Malmi@aalto.fi or Ari.Korhonen@aalto.fi.


For more information about preparation and submission, please visit the page corresponding to the submission type of interest. Important Deadlines and Dates
Research Papers
30 March, 2018 – – Abstract submission (250 words, mandator)
6 April, 2018 – – Full paper submission 
1 June – – Notification of acceptance 
15 June – -Final camera ready deadline Other Submission Types
1 May – – Doctoral consortium submissions 8 June – – Lightning talk and Poster proposals
8 June – – Work in progress workshop application
Conference Schedule
Doctoral Consortium, Sunday, August 12, 2018
ICER Conference, Monday, August 13 – Wednesday August 15, 2018
Work in Progress Workshop, Wednesday evening, August 15 – Thursday, August 16, 2018
For more details, see the conference website: http://www.icer-conference.org
Conference Co-Chairs Lauri Malmi, Aalto University, Finland (Lauri.Malmi@aalto.fi)
Ari Korhonen, Aalto University, Finland (Ari.Korhonen@aalto.fi
Robert McCartney, University of Connecticut, USA (robert.mccartney@uconn.edu)
Andrew Petersen, University of Toronto Mississauga, Canada (andrew.petersen@utoronto.ca)


AUTHORS TAKE NOTE: The official publication date is the date the proceedings are made available in the ACM Digital Library. This date will be up to two weeks prior to the first day of the conference. The official publication date affects the deadline for any patent filings related to published work.

Antarctic Research

News From NSF - Fri, 01/12/2018 - 19:45

Available Formats:
HTML: https://www.nsf.gov/pubs/2018/nsf18530/nsf18530.htm?WT.mc_id=USNSF_25&WT.mc_ev=click
PDF: https://www.nsf.gov/pubs/2018/nsf18530/nsf18530.pdf?WT.mc_id=USNSF_25&WT.mc_ev=click

Document Number: nsf18530


This is an NSF Program Announcements and Information item.

Antarctic Research

News From NSF - Fri, 01/12/2018 - 19:45

Georgia Tech Launches Constellations Center Aimed at Equity in Computing

ComputingEd - Fri, 01/12/2018 - 07:00

 

The Constellations Center was launched at a big event on December 11.  I was there, to hear Executive Director Charles Isbell host the night, which included a great conversation with Senior Director Kamau Bobb (formerly of NSF).

 

Constellations is going to play a significant role in keeping a focus on broadening participation in computing in Georgia, and to serve as a national leader in making sure that everyone gets access to computing education.

Georgia Tech’s College of Computing has launched the Constellations Center for Equity in Computing with the goal of democratizing computer science education. The mission of the new center is to ensure that all students—especially students of color, women, and others underserved in K-12 and post-secondary institutions—have access to quality computer science education, a fundamental life skill in the 21st century.

Constellations is dedicated to challenging and improving the national computer science (CS) educational ecosystem through the provision of curricular content, educational policy assessment, and development of strategic institutional partnerships. According to Senior Director Kamau Bobb, democratizing computing requires a “real reckoning with the race and class divisions of contemporary American life.”

See more here.


Tagged: BPC, Constellations, NCWIT, NSF

CyberCorps: Scholarship for Service recognizes first hall of fame recipients

News From NSF - Wed, 01/10/2018 - 12:00

The National Science Foundation's (NSF) CyberCorps: Scholarship for Service (SFS) program today announced its inaugural class of SFS Hall of Fame recipients, recognized for making outstanding contributions to cybersecurity.

The SFS Hall of Fame received nominations from more than 60 universities. The three members of the first class are Josiah Dykstra, Mischel Kwon and Steven Hernandez. NSF made the announcement ...
More at https://www.nsf.gov/news/news_summ.jsp?cntn_id=244192&WT.mc_id=USNSF_51&WT.mc_ev=click


This is an NSF News item.

Winter road salt, fertilizers turning North American waterways increasingly saltier

News From NSF - Mon, 01/08/2018 - 15:00

Find related stories on NSF's Environmental Research and Education (ERE) programs at this link. Also find related stories on NSF's Long-Term Ecological Research (LTER) Program site.

Across North America, streams and rivers are becoming saltier, thanks to road deicers, fertilizers and ...
More at https://www.nsf.gov/news/news_summ.jsp?cntn_id=244099&WT.mc_id=USNSF_51&WT.mc_ev=click


This is an NSF News item.

Analysis of 2017 AP CS exam participation from Barbara Ericson

ComputingEd - Mon, 01/08/2018 - 07:00

Like last year, I’m pleased that we can rely on others to write the blog post on Barbara Ericson’s annual AP CS exam data analyses.  The College of Computing at Georgia Tech just wrote a nice description of the findings here: Positive Signs, But Diversity Still Lagging in AP Computer Science Exam Participation, and quoted in part below. Barb’s detailed analyses can be found here, and her detailed gender and race analyses are here.

Barb has been doing more visualizations of her data.  The GVU Center at Georgia Tech produced this nice summary of 20 years of AP CS A data, by state. Of the images she’s produced, this is the one that I find most compelling — the number of exam-takers per 100,00 people in the state.  There are some big goose eggs and many single digit numbers out there.

Increasing female & minority access

According to Barbara Ericson, Georgia Tech research scientist and author of the analysis, the introduction this year of a new AP CS P course and exam contributed to the increases.

“This is exactly what we hoped for. The CS principles course is on par with a college-level intro course for non-CS majors, so it is more accessible to more people,” said Ericson.

Officials had estimated nearly 20,000 AP CS P exams would be taken this year. However, Ericson said the actual number topped 40,000.

“Although overall growth in female and minority participation in the AP CS A exam was relatively flat this year, we’re hopeful that the introduction of the P exam will help swell A exam participation rates in the next few years.”

AP Computer Science A

Despite marginal growth among underrepresented students, overall participation in the AP CS A exam grew by 11.2 percent year-over-year in 2017. A record 60,519 U.S. high school students took the exam with an overall pass rate of 61.8 percent, up more than a percentage point from the previous year.

“It’s great to see growth across the board, but there’s still a long way to go before AP computer science is as available in U.S. classrooms as, say, AP Physics or Calculus,” said Ericson.

More than 170,000 students took the AP Physics 1 exam this year, while more than 316,000 took the AP Calculus AB exam.


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