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Students’ Misconceptions and Other Difficulties in Introductory Programming: A Literature Review

ACM TOCE and InRoads - Thu, 10/26/2017 - 20:00
Yizhou Qian, James Lehman

Efforts to improve computer science education are underway, and teachers of computer science are challenged in introductory programming courses to help learners develop their understanding of programming and computer science. Identifying and addressing students’ misconceptions is a key part of a computer science teacher's competence. However, relevant research on this topic is not as fully developed in the computer science education field as it is in mathematics and science education. In this article, we first review relevant literature on general definitions of misconceptions and studies about students’ misconceptions and other difficulties in introductory programming. Next, we investigate the factors that contribute to the difficulties.
Categories: Education

Teaching Software Product Lines: A Snapshot of Current Practices and Challenges

ACM TOCE and InRoads - Thu, 10/26/2017 - 20:00
Mathieu Acher, Roberto E. Lopez-Herrejon, Rick Rabiser

Software Product Line (SPL) engineering has emerged to provide the means to efficiently model, produce, and maintain multiple similar software variants, exploiting their common properties, and managing their variabilities (differences). With over two decades of existence, the community of SPL researchers and practitioners is thriving, as can be attested by the extensive research output and the numerous successful industrial projects. Education has a key role to support the next generation of practitioners to build highly complex, variability-intensive systems. Yet, it is unclear how the concepts of variability and SPLs are taught, what are the possible missing gaps and difficulties faced, what are the benefits, and what is the material available.
Categories: Education

Comparing Block-Based and Text-Based Programming in High School Computer Science Classrooms

ACM TOCE and InRoads - Thu, 10/26/2017 - 20:00
David Weintrop, Uri Wilensky

The number of students taking high school computer science classes is growing. Increasingly, these students are learning with graphical, block-based programming environments either in place of or prior to traditional text-based programming languages. Despite their growing use in formal settings, relatively little empirical work has been done to understand the impacts of using block-based programming environments in high school classrooms. In this article, we present the results of a 5-week, quasi-experimental study comparing isomorphic block-based and text-based programming environments in an introductory high school programming class. The findings from this study show students in both conditions improved their scores between pre- and postassessments; however, students in the blocks condition showed greater learning gains and a higher level of interest in future computing courses.
Categories: Education

Developing Computational Thinking through a Virtual Robotics Programming Curriculum

ACM TOCE and InRoads - Thu, 10/26/2017 - 20:00
Eben B. Witherspoon, Ross M. Higashi, Christian D. Schunn, Emily C. Baehr, Robin Shoop

Computational thinking describes key principles from computer science that are broadly generalizable. Robotics programs can be engaging learning environments for acquiring core computational thinking competencies. However, few empirical studies evaluate the effectiveness of a robotics programming curriculum for developing computational thinking knowledge and skills. This study measures pre/post gains with new computational thinking assessments given to middle school students who participated in a virtual robotics programming curriculum. Overall, participation in the virtual robotics curriculum was related to significant gains in pre- to posttest scores, with larger gains for students who made further progress through the curriculum. The success of this intervention suggests that participation in a scaffolded programming curriculum, within the context of virtual robotics, supports the development of generalizable computational thinking knowledge and skills that are associated with increased problem-solving performance on nonrobotics computing tasks.
Categories: Education

Students’ Misconceptions and Other Difficulties in Introductory Programming: A Literature Review

ACM Transactions on Computing Education - Thu, 10/26/2017 - 20:00
Yizhou Qian, James Lehman

Efforts to improve computer science education are underway, and teachers of computer science are challenged in introductory programming courses to help learners develop their understanding of programming and computer science. Identifying and addressing students’ misconceptions is a key part of a computer science teacher's competence. However, relevant research on this topic is not as fully developed in the computer science education field as it is in mathematics and science education. In this article, we first review relevant literature on general definitions of misconceptions and studies about students’ misconceptions and other difficulties in introductory programming. Next, we investigate the factors that contribute to the difficulties.

Teaching Software Product Lines: A Snapshot of Current Practices and Challenges

ACM Transactions on Computing Education - Thu, 10/26/2017 - 20:00
Mathieu Acher, Roberto E. Lopez-Herrejon, Rick Rabiser

Software Product Line (SPL) engineering has emerged to provide the means to efficiently model, produce, and maintain multiple similar software variants, exploiting their common properties, and managing their variabilities (differences). With over two decades of existence, the community of SPL researchers and practitioners is thriving, as can be attested by the extensive research output and the numerous successful industrial projects. Education has a key role to support the next generation of practitioners to build highly complex, variability-intensive systems. Yet, it is unclear how the concepts of variability and SPLs are taught, what are the possible missing gaps and difficulties faced, what are the benefits, and what is the material available.

Comparing Block-Based and Text-Based Programming in High School Computer Science Classrooms

ACM Transactions on Computing Education - Thu, 10/26/2017 - 20:00
David Weintrop, Uri Wilensky

The number of students taking high school computer science classes is growing. Increasingly, these students are learning with graphical, block-based programming environments either in place of or prior to traditional text-based programming languages. Despite their growing use in formal settings, relatively little empirical work has been done to understand the impacts of using block-based programming environments in high school classrooms. In this article, we present the results of a 5-week, quasi-experimental study comparing isomorphic block-based and text-based programming environments in an introductory high school programming class. The findings from this study show students in both conditions improved their scores between pre- and postassessments; however, students in the blocks condition showed greater learning gains and a higher level of interest in future computing courses.

Developing Computational Thinking through a Virtual Robotics Programming Curriculum

ACM Transactions on Computing Education - Thu, 10/26/2017 - 20:00
Eben B. Witherspoon, Ross M. Higashi, Christian D. Schunn, Emily C. Baehr, Robin Shoop

Computational thinking describes key principles from computer science that are broadly generalizable. Robotics programs can be engaging learning environments for acquiring core computational thinking competencies. However, few empirical studies evaluate the effectiveness of a robotics programming curriculum for developing computational thinking knowledge and skills. This study measures pre/post gains with new computational thinking assessments given to middle school students who participated in a virtual robotics programming curriculum. Overall, participation in the virtual robotics curriculum was related to significant gains in pre- to posttest scores, with larger gains for students who made further progress through the curriculum. The success of this intervention suggests that participation in a scaffolded programming curriculum, within the context of virtual robotics, supports the development of generalizable computational thinking knowledge and skills that are associated with increased problem-solving performance on nonrobotics computing tasks.

Why Tech Leadership May Have a Bigger Race Than Gender Problem

ComputingEd - Mon, 10/23/2017 - 07:00

The Wired article linked below suggests that race is an even bigger issue than gender in Tech industry leadership.  While Asians are over-represented in the Tech labor force, they are under-represented in Tech leadership, even more than women.  I was somewhat surprised that this article considers “Asians” so generally.  The most-often visited blog post I’ve written is the one that shows the differential success rates of different Asian populations in US educational attainment (see post here).

Gee says this study came about because an earlier report in 2015 that used EEOC data from companies like Google and LinkedIn ended up on the desk of Jenny Yang, the outgoing commissioner of the EEOC. Yang asked if the lower proportion of Asian executives was the result of discrimination and might be applicable for lawsuits, Gee says. He told her no. “We have never seen any overt discrimination or policies that create these disparities,” Gee explains. Rather, after conversations with 60 or 70 Asian executives, the authors say they noticed a pattern of cultural traits among some Asians that did not align with leadership expectations in Western corporate culture, such as risk-taking and being confrontational.

Gee gave the example of an executive who started the first Asian affinity group at Intel decades ago. He noticed that Chinese engineers were unhappy and not succeeding in Intel’s culture of “constructive conflict,” which involved heated debates during meetings.

“Some people call it unconscious bias. For Asians, it’s actually a very conscious bias,” says Gee. Studies show that assumptions that Asians are good at math, science, and technology make it easier for them to get in the door, but the same bias is reversed when it comes to leadership roles, he says.

Source: Why Tech Leadership May Have a Bigger Race Than Gender Problem | WIRED


Tagged: ACM-W, BPC, NCWIT, women in computing

What we should be teaching kids about CS and changing our tools to get there: Ben Shapiro

ComputingEd - Sat, 10/21/2017 - 07:00

Ben Shapiro gave the opening keynote at VL/HCC a couple weeks ago. (See Andy Ko’s great summary of VL/HCC this year.) He shared the slides with me, and he just made a video of himself re-giving the talk.

Ben has been exploring what we need to teach kids to prepare them to create authentic applications for the world that they live in — multiple, heterogenous platforms with rich networking.  He wants kids to think about networks, failures, and communication between programs running on devices with different capabilities. Today, we talk about teaching kids variables and loops. Tomorrow (like, literally tomorrow), we should be teaching them about the realities of the digital world in which they live.

But we’re not going to do this with Scratch, Python, or Java. He’s suggesting new kinds of tools, including having young kids work with machine learning.

I recommend letting Ben change your thinking about the next things to teach in CS.


Tagged: computing education, physical computing

Georgia Tech Receives CMD-IT University Award for Retention of Minorities and Students With Disabilities in Computer Science

ComputingEd - Fri, 10/20/2017 - 07:00

I have not been directly involved in the computer science undergraduate major at Georgia Tech since “Georgia Computes!” started (and ECEP continued). Today, I teach graduate courses in the Human-Centered Computing PhD program and the undergraduate non-CS majors course Introduction to Media Computation, and only rarely teach CS undergraduates.

So, I am pleased that this award to the undergraduate program in the College of Computing mentioned things that Barb and I were part of.  The College of Computing won the award in part for Threads (I co-chaired the implementation committee), “Georgia Computes!” (which was mostly Barb and me), Project Rise Up 4 CS (which is Barb’s invention which she developed for ECEP), and our three mandatory CS classes, one of which is the Media Computation class I created. I feel like Barbara and I had a role in this.

The CMD-IT University Award decision was based on both Georgia Tech’s impressive quantitative reported results, which reflected high retention and graduation rates and qualitative reporting on their various retention program.  In particular, Georgia Tech highlighted the following four programs highlighted as directly impacting retention and graduation:

  • Threads Undergraduate Curriculum:  Students are given the opportunity to take control over their curriculum by choosing two of eight Threads to create their degree plan which gives them more than 28 different degree plans to follow. This resulted in students feeling they have more control and a better understanding of their degree plan.

  • Georgia Computes and Project Rise Up:  The two programs are spearheaded by Georgia Tech to help increase engagement in computing by broadening participation in computer science at all educational levels by underrepresented groups.  These programs increase interest in Computer Science.

  • Mandatory Introductions to Computer Science classes:  All students enrolled in Bachelor’s degree programs at Georgia Tech must take one of three computer science classes. The three programs enable students to take courses that fit their level of experience in Computer Science.

  • Travel Scholarships to Conference:  Georgia Tech provides between 40 and 120 travel scholarships to leading tech conferences with a diversity focus.  Students build networks of support and return with a feeling of renewed commitment to their degree program.

Source: Georgia Tech Receives CMD-IT University Award for Retention of Minorities and Students With Disabilities in Computer Science | Markets Insider


Tagged: GaComputes, Media Computation, Project Rise Up

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