-A A +A

Feed aggregator

An instrument to assess self-efficacy in introductory algorithms courses

ACM InRoads - Mon, 01/29/2018 - 19:00
Holger Danielsiek, Laura Toma, Jan Vahrenhold

CS puzzle contest

ACM InRoads - Mon, 01/29/2018 - 19:00
Zack Butler, John Barr

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) for NSF 18-530, Antarctic Research Program Solicitation

News From NSF - Mon, 01/29/2018 - 12:21

Available Formats:
HTML: https://www.nsf.gov/pubs/2018/nsf18042/nsf18042.jsp?WT.mc_id=USNSF_25&WT.mc_ev=click
PDF: https://www.nsf.gov/pubs/2018/nsf18042/nsf18042.pdf?WT.mc_id=USNSF_25&WT.mc_ev=click

Document Number: nsf18042
Public Comment: These Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) refer to Program Solicitation NSF 18-530.

This is an NSF Program Announcements and Information item.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) for NSF 18-530, Antarctic Research Program Solicitation

News From NSF - Mon, 01/29/2018 - 12:21

Available Formats:
HTML: https://www.nsf.gov/pubs/2018/nsf18042/nsf18042.jsp?WT.mc_id=USNSF_179
PDF: https://www.nsf.gov/pubs/2018/nsf18042/nsf18042.pdf?WT.mc_id=USNSF_179

Document Number: nsf18042
Public Comment: These Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) refer to Program Solicitation NSF 18-530.

This is an NSF Publications item.

Study shows wetlands provide landscape-scale reduction in nitrogen pollution

News From NSF - Mon, 01/29/2018 - 11:00

Find related stories on NSF's Environmental Research and Education (ERE) programs at this link.

In agricultural regions such as the U.S. Midwest, excess nitrate from crop fertilizer makes its way into rivers and streams through subsurface drainage channels and agricultural ditches.

High nitrate concentrations in waterways can be harmful to ecosystems and human health, ...
More at https://www.nsf.gov/news/news_summ.jsp?cntn_id=244250&WT.mc_id=USNSF_51&WT.mc_ev=click

This is an NSF News item.

ECEP 2018: Measuring and Making Progress on Broadening Participation in Computing

ComputingEd - Mon, 01/29/2018 - 07:00

The 2018 Annual Meeting of the Expanding Computing Education Pathways (ECEP) Alliance was at Georgia Tech January 26-27. ECEP is an NSF-funded alliance to broaden participation in computing. We had about 90 participants, state leaders from 16 states and Puerto Rico. Attendees were from a range of positions, from state departments of education, state boards of education, STEM centers, non-profits, Governor’s offices, University professors, and CS teachers from elementary or high school. The focus at this meeting was to define what it means to broaden participation in computing (BPC) education for each state. The state teams worked at defining what data variables they needed in order to inform their BPC goals, and how they would know (by looking at those data) if they were making progress towards those goals.  You can see the play-by-play with pictures via Twitter hashtag #ECEP2017.

I learned so much at this event. I’m still processing all of it, but here are some of the things that are standing out to me right now.

Caitlin Dooley from Georgia Department of Education gave a terrific talk about the challenges in Georgia.  She made the argument that CS is the equity issue of our age.  She said that the challenge of getting CS teachers into poorer (low-SES) and rural districts is that teachers are leaving when they have the skillsets. The challenge is to have good school leaders to retain teachers.

Anne DeMallie from Massachusetts gave a compelling talk about how they’re integrating CS across the curriculum, especially in elementary school. Massachusetts and New Jersey are two states that integrated their CS and Digital Literacy standards, trying to make it easier for schools to integrate CS education. I liked the framework she offered on how to think about integrating CS into other subjects: exist, enhance, and extend.

I was impressed by the states who are setting concrete, measurable goals. Alabama has set a goal of every high school student having access to CS education by 2022. South Carolina plans to provide access to CS education in every middle and high school in five years. Maryland has a detailed 15 year plan that gets every student access to high-quality CS education with certified high school teachers. (Seen below, presented by Megean Garvin.)

Kamau Bobb of Constellations gave our keynote (as a “fireside chat” with Debra Richardson). His talk was exciting and challenging.  He pointed out that high school CS isn’t going to get kids into University. Pushing CS instead of math and science isn’t helping students get admission to higher education.  Schools aren’t held accountable for CS — they’re being held accountable for math, science, and language arts learning. CS has to play a role in meeting student and school needs.

Kamau pointed out that “Segregation is an immutable truth.”  One of the stories he told was to about textual literacy.  During Reconstruction (starting 1865), leaders realized the critical need for all African-Americans to learn to read.  The Georgia Literacy Project to address the dramatic literacy gap was just started in 2010 — 145 years later.  How long will it take us to achieve equitable access to computing education?

Most of the time was spent in working meetings — state teams sitting down with data reports, developing plans for broadening participation in CS, and grounding the plans in what data they have and what trends they expect to see in those data. The challenges of gathering data on the ground are huge.  I was sitting with one state where a CS teacher on the team pointed out that she had 85 students this year. The Department of Education person from that state did a search, and found that none of those students showed up in their database.  Other states pointed out how hard it is to compare data across states.  We use AP CS data for these kinds of comparisons, but in some states (like Arkansas), all AP exams are paid for by the state. That means that more kids are taking the exam, which means that the pass rates have a different context.

The amount of support for CS Education from each state varies dramatically. Many states have no one in the Department of Education who is informed about CS. Here in Georgia, we have one full-time CS coordinator, which is terrific. In Arkansas, they have nine full-time CS specialists to help teachers.

It was energizing to be with so many passionate leaders who are working to improve computing education in their state.  It’s also amazing to see how much work there is to go to reach everyone with high-quality computing education.

This was the last ECEP meeting organized by this group of NSF Principal Investigators. Rick Adrion, Renee Fall, Barbara Ericson, and I are done when the existing ECEP grant runs out at the end of September.  We’ve worked with a new team of PI’s to help them build a proposal for ECEP 2.  The amazing Sarah Dunton, the manager of our state and territory alliance, will continue in ECEP 2. The PIs for ECEP 2 are Carol Fletcher, Anne Leftwich, Debra Richardson, Maureen Biggers, and Leigh Ann DeLyser.  We’re hoping that they get funded and continue to help states make progress on implementing and broadening computing education.

The pushback begins: Who benefits from the push to teach every kid to code?

ComputingEd - Fri, 01/26/2018 - 07:00

The pushback was inevitable.  Slate published a piece in December, “Who Benefits From the Push to Teach Every Kid to Code?” The article provides an answer in the subtitle, “Tech companies, for one.”

The article is more history lesson than explicit argument that the driver behind the current effort to promote computing is simply for Tech companies to bolster their bottom line.  It’s still an interesting piece and worth reading.

For some tech companies, this is an explicit goal. In 2016, Oracle and Micron Technology helped write a state education bill in Idaho that read, “It is essential that efforts to increase computer science instruction, kindergarten through career, be driven by the needs of industry and be developed in partnership with industry.” While two lawmakers objected to the corporate influence on the bill, it passed with an overwhelming majority.

Some critics argue that the goal of the coding push is to massively increase the number of programmers on the market, depressing wages and bolstering tech companies’ profit margins. Though there is no concrete evidence to support this claim, the fact remains that only half of college students who majored in science, technology, engineering, or math-related subjects get jobs in their field after graduation. That certainly casts doubt on the idea that there is a “skills gap“ between workers’ abilities and employers’ needs. Concerns about these disparities have helped justify investment in tech education over the past 20 years.

Cloud seeding for snow: Does it work? Scientists report first quantifiable observations

News From NSF - Tue, 01/23/2018 - 09:04

For the first time, scientists have obtained direct, quantifiable observations of cloud seeding for increased snowfall -- from the growth of ice crystals, through the processes that occur in clouds, to the eventual snowfall.

The National Science Foundation (NSF)-supported project, dubbed SNOWIE (Seeded and Natural Orographic Wintertime Clouds -- the Idaho Experiment), took place from Jan. 7 to March 17, 2017, in and near Idaho's Payette Basin, located approximately 50 miles north of ...
More at https://www.nsf.gov/news/news_summ.jsp?cntn_id=244215&WT.mc_id=USNSF_51&WT.mc_ev=click

This is an NSF News item.

Should computer science fulfill a foreign language admissions requirement?

ComputingEd - Mon, 01/22/2018 - 07:00

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.


Subscribe to Computing Portal aggregator