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“How Else Should It Work?” A Grounded Theory of Pre-College Students’ Understanding of Computing Devices

ACM TOCE and InRoads - Mon, 11/19/2018 - 19:00
Michael T. Rücker, Niels Pinkwart

In order to understand and evaluate computing technology in their environment, students first need to be able to identify it. This task becomes increasingly difficult, however, as computing systems become more and more ubiquitous and invisible. Based on the analysis of semi-structured focus interviews with 28 German pre-college students, we present a grounded theory of their conceptions and reasoning related to the identification of computing within technical devices. At its core is the finding that many students seemed to differentiate technical artifacts with respect to three conceived levels of capability. Many household appliances, for instance, were very well seen as electronic and programmed, but still as too limited in their capability to warrant the presence of a “real” computer or to be related to informatics.
Categories: Education

An Empirical Investigation on the Benefits of Gamification in Programming Courses

ACM TOCE and InRoads - Mon, 11/19/2018 - 19:00
B. Marín, J. Frez, J. Cruz-Lemus, M. Genero

Context: Programming courses are compulsory for most engineering degrees, but students’ performance on these courses is often not as good as expected. Programming is difficult for students to learn, given that it includes a lot of new, complex, and abstract topics. All of this has led experts to the conclusion that new teaching techniques are required if students are to be motivated and engaged in learning on programming courses. Gamification has come to be an effective technique in education in general, and is especially useful in programming courses. This motivated us to develop an open source gamified platform, called UDPiler, for use in a programming course.
Categories: Education

“How Else Should It Work?” A Grounded Theory of Pre-College Students’ Understanding of Computing Devices

ACM Transactions on Computing Education - Mon, 11/19/2018 - 19:00
Michael T. Rücker, Niels Pinkwart

In order to understand and evaluate computing technology in their environment, students first need to be able to identify it. This task becomes increasingly difficult, however, as computing systems become more and more ubiquitous and invisible. Based on the analysis of semi-structured focus interviews with 28 German pre-college students, we present a grounded theory of their conceptions and reasoning related to the identification of computing within technical devices. At its core is the finding that many students seemed to differentiate technical artifacts with respect to three conceived levels of capability. Many household appliances, for instance, were very well seen as electronic and programmed, but still as too limited in their capability to warrant the presence of a “real” computer or to be related to informatics.

An Empirical Investigation on the Benefits of Gamification in Programming Courses

ACM Transactions on Computing Education - Mon, 11/19/2018 - 19:00
B. Marín, J. Frez, J. Cruz-Lemus, M. Genero

Context: Programming courses are compulsory for most engineering degrees, but students’ performance on these courses is often not as good as expected. Programming is difficult for students to learn, given that it includes a lot of new, complex, and abstract topics. All of this has led experts to the conclusion that new teaching techniques are required if students are to be motivated and engaged in learning on programming courses. Gamification has come to be an effective technique in education in general, and is especially useful in programming courses. This motivated us to develop an open source gamified platform, called UDPiler, for use in a programming course.

NSF Proposal and Award POlicy Newsletter - November 2018

News From NSF - Mon, 11/19/2018 - 11:39

Available Formats:
PDF: https://www.nsf.gov/pubs/2019/nsf19020/nsf19020.pdf?WT.mc_id=USNSF_179

Document Number: nsf19020


This is an NSF Publications item.

MIT creates a College of Computing to integrate across all disciplines

ComputingEd - Mon, 11/19/2018 - 08:00

Last month, MIT announced the creation of the MIT Schwarzman College of Computing, with a $1 Billion commitment (see article here).  Below is my favorite part of the press release.  I’ll paraphrase the elements that have me excited about what MIT is going do with this new College:

  • It’s not just about taking CS to the other disciplines. It’s about “allowing the future of computing and AI to be shaped by insights from all other disciplines.”  This is key to Peter Denning’s notion of Computing and not just Computer Science.  Computing is about the rest of the world influencing, pushing, and advancing what we know about computer science.
  • The 50 new positions are going to be in the College and joint with other departments.  That’s a key step to get integration.
  • When they talk about what they’re going to do with this new College, “education” is the first word, and “research and innovation” are second and third.  Does that ordering imply a priority? Will it really keep those priorities? Who knows, but they’re good words.
  • There goal is that every student knows to “responsibly use and develop” computing technologies and AI.  Is MIT going to institute a campus-wide computing course requirement?  Even better would be to make sure that there is significant computing in the disciplinary courses.  The NYTimes article (see here) quotes MIT President Reif as aiming to “educate the bilinguals of the future.”

    He defines bilinguals as people in fields like biology, chemistry, politics, history and linguistics who are also skilled in the techniques of modern computing that can be applied to them.

Yes! That’s an exciting vision.

Headquartered in a signature new building on MIT’s campus, the new MIT Schwarzman College of Computing will be an interdisciplinary hub for work in computer science, AI, data science, and related fields. The College will:

  • reorient MIT to bring the power of computing and AI to all fields of study at MIT, allowing the future of computing and AI to be shaped by insights from all other disciplines;

  • create 50 new faculty positions that will be located both within the College and jointly with other departments across MIT — nearly doubling MIT’s academic capability in computing and AI;

  • give MIT’s five schools a shared structure for collaborative education, research, and innovation in computing and AI;

  • educate students in every discipline to responsibly use and develop AI and computing technologies to help make a better world; and

  • transform education and research in public policy and ethical considerations relevant to computing and AI.

 

RecurTutor: An Interactive Tutorial for Learning Recursion

ACM TOCE and InRoads - Sun, 11/18/2018 - 19:00
Sally Hamouda, Stephen H. Edwards, Hicham G. Elmongui, Jeremy V. Ernst, Clifford A. Shaffer

Recursion is one of the most important and hardest topics in lower division computer science courses. As it is an advanced programming skill, the best way to learn it is through targeted practice exercises. But the best practice problems are time consuming to manually grade by an instructor. As a consequence, students historically have completed only a small number of recursion programming exercises as part of their coursework. We present a new way for teaching such programming skills. Students view examples and visualizations, then practice a wide variety of automatically assessed, small-scale programming exercises that address the sub-skills required to learn recursion.
Categories: Education

Multiple-Choice Questions in Programming Courses: Can We Use Them and Are Students Motivated by Them?

ACM TOCE and InRoads - Sun, 11/18/2018 - 19:00
Pedro Henriques Abreu, Daniel Castro Silva, Anabela Gomes

Low performance of nontechnical engineering students in programming courses is a problem that remains unsolved. Over the years, many authors have tried to identify the multiple causes for that failure, but there is unanimity on the fact that motivation is a key factor for the acquisition of knowledge by students. To better understand motivation, a new evaluation strategy has been adopted in a second programming course of a nontechnical degree, consisting of 91 students. The goals of the study were to identify if those students felt more motivated to answer multiple-choice questions in comparison to development questions, and what type of question better allows for testing student knowledge acquisition.
Categories: Education

RecurTutor: An Interactive Tutorial for Learning Recursion

ACM Transactions on Computing Education - Sun, 11/18/2018 - 19:00
Sally Hamouda, Stephen H. Edwards, Hicham G. Elmongui, Jeremy V. Ernst, Clifford A. Shaffer

Recursion is one of the most important and hardest topics in lower division computer science courses. As it is an advanced programming skill, the best way to learn it is through targeted practice exercises. But the best practice problems are time consuming to manually grade by an instructor. As a consequence, students historically have completed only a small number of recursion programming exercises as part of their coursework. We present a new way for teaching such programming skills. Students view examples and visualizations, then practice a wide variety of automatically assessed, small-scale programming exercises that address the sub-skills required to learn recursion.

Multiple-Choice Questions in Programming Courses: Can We Use Them and Are Students Motivated by Them?

ACM Transactions on Computing Education - Sun, 11/18/2018 - 19:00
Pedro Henriques Abreu, Daniel Castro Silva, Anabela Gomes

Low performance of nontechnical engineering students in programming courses is a problem that remains unsolved. Over the years, many authors have tried to identify the multiple causes for that failure, but there is unanimity on the fact that motivation is a key factor for the acquisition of knowledge by students. To better understand motivation, a new evaluation strategy has been adopted in a second programming course of a nontechnical degree, consisting of 91 students. The goals of the study were to identify if those students felt more motivated to answer multiple-choice questions in comparison to development questions, and what type of question better allows for testing student knowledge acquisition.

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