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How to be a great (CS) teacher from Andy Ko

ComputingEd - Mon, 05/29/2017 - 07:00

Andy Ko from U-W is giving a talk to new faculty about how to be a great CS teacher.  I only quote three of his points below — I encourage you to read the whole list.  Andy’s talk could usefully add some of the points from Cynthia Lee’s list on how to create a more inclusive environment in CS.  CS is far less diverse than any other STEM discipline.  Being a great CS teacher means that you’re aware of that and take steps to improve diversity in CS.

My argument is as follows:

  • Despite widespread belief among CS faculty in a “geek gene”, everyone can learn computer science.
  • If students are failing a CS class, it’s because of one or more of the following: 1) they didn’t have the prior knowledge you expected them to have, 2) they aren’t sufficiently motivated by you or themselves, 3) your class lacks sufficient practice to help them learn what you’re teaching. Corollary: just because they’re passing you’re class doesn’t mean you’re doing a great job teaching: they may already know everything you’re teaching, they may be incredibly motivated, they may be finding other ways to practice you aren’t aware of, or they may be cheating.
  • To prevent failure, one must design deliberate practice, which consists of: 1) sustained motivation, 2) tasks that build on individual’s prior knowledge, 3) immediate personalized feedback on those tasks, and 4) repetition.

Source: How to be a great (CS) teacher – Bits and Behavior – Medium

Tagged: BPC, computing education, NCWIT, research university, teachers, university CS

NSF Proposal and Award Policy Newsletter - May/June 2017

News From NSF - Sat, 05/27/2017 - 10:25

Available Formats:
PDF: https://www.nsf.gov/pubs/2017/nsf17084/nsf17084.pdf?WT.mc_id=USNSF_179

Document Number: nsf17084

This is an NSF Publications item.

Jean Sammet passes away at age 89

ComputingEd - Fri, 05/26/2017 - 07:00

Jean Sammet passed away on May 21, 2017 at the age of 88. (Thanks to John Impagliazzo for passing on word on the SIGCSE-members list.)  Valerie Barr, who has been mentioned several times in this blog, was just named the first Jean E. Sammet chair of computer science at Mount Holyoke.  I never met Jean, but knew her from her work on the history of programming languages which are among the most fun CS books I own.


GILLIAN: I remember my high school math teacher saying that an actuary was a stable, high-paying job. Did you view it that way?

JEAN: No. I was looking in The New York Times for jobs for women—when I tell younger people that the want ads were once separated by gender, they’re shocked—and actuary was one of the few listed that wasn’t housekeeping or nursing, so I went.Sammet found her way to Sperry. “Everything from there, for quite a while, was self-learned,” she says. “There were no books, courses, or conferences that I was aware of.” For her next move she applied to be an engineer at Sylvania Electric Products—though the job was again listed for men.

Source: Gillian Jacobs Interviews Computer Programmer Jean E. Sammet | Glamour

Tagged: BPC, NCWIT, programming languages, women in computing, women in IT

In a drought, over-irrigated lawns lose 70 billion gallons of water a year

News From NSF - Wed, 05/24/2017 - 10:00

In the summer of 2010, Los Angeles lost about 100 gallons of water per person per day to the atmosphere through evaporation, mostly from overwatering of lawns and trees.

Lawns accounted for 70 percent of the water loss, while trees accounted for 30 percent, according to a study published today in the journal Water Resources Research. The research was funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF) and conducted by Diane Pataki and Elizaveta Litvak of the University of ...

More at https://www.nsf.gov/news/news_summ.jsp?cntn_id=241970&WT.mc_id=USNSF_51&WT.mc_ev=click

This is an NSF News item.

How do we create cyberattack defenders?

ComputingEd - Wed, 05/24/2017 - 07:00


Roger Schank (famous AI and cognitive science researcher, the guy who coined the term “learning sciences”) is putting his expertise to the task of creating cyberattack defenders.  The description of his process (linked below) is interesting.  It has all the hallmarks of his work — innovative, informed by research, driven by concrete tasks.  Notice the strong claim that I quoted below.  We shouldn’t be aiming for general cyber attack defense skills.  These skills are going to be industry-by-industry specific.  He’s directly informed by the research that suggests that these skills are unlikely to generalize.

One of the big questions is: where are we going to get the students?  How do we recruit students into this kind of program?

How can we help? The cyber attack course Socratic Arts is building for the DOD will be modified to make the projects specific to particular industries. The banks’ problems are obvious: hackers might want to steal money. Pharma’s problems are obvious: hackers might want to steal secrets. We intend to put out versions of our cyber attack course for each industry. These courses will take 6 months for a student to complete. We are not interested in giving an overview in the typical one week course that is no more than an intro. We want to train real cyber attackers who can help. The only way to learn is by practice (with advice). That’s how you learn to ride a bike and that’s how you learn to do anything.

Source: Cyber Attack Academy

Tagged: cyber security education, cybersecurity, learning sciences


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