Syllabus of Readings

Readings should be done before class. For each reading, identify a quote from the article that you find thought-provoking (whether or not you agree with it). Also think about the connections between the articles, as they are assigned together for a reason.

Some readings are only accessible through WPI's library proxy (unless you are on the campus network)

Jan 17 (T): Challenges in Computing Education

No pre-assigned readings since this is the first class meeting. We will discuss your initial ideas of what introductory computing education should look like at the upper high-school or early college level.

Jan 19 (R): Learning and Computational Thinking

Jan 24 (T): Constructivism

  • Constructivism in Computer Science Education. Mordechai Ben-Ari. Journal of Computers in Math and Science Teaching (2001), 20(1), 45--73.

    Note that this same author has a conference-length (6 page) paper by the same name (appearing in a conference called SIGCSE). We are reading the (slightly) longer (journal-length) version, as it contains additional perspective and detail.

Jan 26 (R): Against Constructivism; Experts vs Novices

Jan 31 (T): Notional Machines

Feb 2 (R): Assumptions Underlying Specific Examples

  • Why Johnny Can’t Encrypt A Usability Evaluation of PGP 5.0, Alma Whitten and J. D. Tygar. In Security and Usability: Designing Secure Systems that People Can Use, eds. L. Cranor and G. Simson. O'Reilly, 2005, pp. 679-702
  • We will also discuss the examples that you all wrote up for the assignment due in this class

Feb 7 (T): Plan Composition, Part 1

Feb 9 (R): Snow Day -- no class

Feb 14 (T): Plan Composition, Part 2

Feb 16 (R): Another Classic Novice Programming Study

Feb 21 (T): Taxonomies of Student Understanding

Feb 23 (R): More Taxonomies

Feb 28 (T): Reading before Writing

Mar 2 (R): More Reading before Writing

  • The use of code reading in teaching programming. Terea Busjahn and Carsten Schulte, Koli Calling 2013. (file available in Canvas)

    Come prepared with your own answer to the "mystery question" posed in the paper. You don't have to turn in your answer, but be ready to state it to the rest of the class.

  • We may add one more short reading, depending on how far we get in Tuesday's class.

Mar 14 (T): Snow Day for All

Mar 16 (R): CS for All Goals: A discussion with Colleen Lewis

Colleen will join us as we discuss one of her recent papers as a class. See link below. Colleen has asked that you fill out this brief survey with your responses to the article (after you read it) -- Colleen and I will both be able to see the results of this.

Mar 21 (T): Implementing CS for All

This class, we look at some of the practical issues about how to actually implement CS education across K-12. This is part curriculum-design, part public policy.

Those of you who are particularly interested in K-12 might want to take a look at the recently-released K-12 Computer Science Framework, a set of broad learning objectives for K-12 computer science (meant to advise efforts to write specific state policies and standards for CS education). The research chapter (chapter 10) ties into themes of this course. Practically this document is also useful for seeing how CS is being conceptualized for K-12.

Mar 24 (R): Authenticity and Situated Learning

This class, we look at some non-technical factors that affect participating in computing classes: authentic experiences and the role of community.

For those of you interested in how social culture interacts with CS learning, you might also want to look at DiSalvo et. al's article Saving Face While Geeking Out: Video Game Testing as a Justification for Learning Computer Science, which talks about how they had to frame the Glitch Game Tester project (described in other articles this week) so that participants could defend their participation to family and friends. I didn't add this to the list for this class simply on length, but it raises important issues on framing CSEd for under-represented communities.

Mar 28 (T): MOOCs

This class, we look at the promises and some of the realities of MOOCs (massively open online courses). (Note: Kathi will be away, but class will still meet -- you'll use the questions under the reading list to frame your discussion.)

Discussion Questions: Write down your (brief) answers to these and upload to Canvas prior to class.

  1. What do you see as the most important (up to 3) major challenges facing higher (university-level) education today? Simply state each one in a sentence.
  2. What major challenges were MOOCs expected to address? (Again, simply state them in a sentence)
  3. What were the critical gaps between the MOOC hype and reality? What do you think went wrong? Write roughly a paragraph (but not more than a page) describing the issues that stand out most for you about the promises and pitfalls of MOOCs, now that we have some experience behind us.

Mar 30 (R): Educational Design for Online Education

This class, we will look at some educational design theory for online education. We'll look at the first two chapters from Clark and Mayer's book "e-Learning and the Science of Instruction : Proven Guidelines for Consumers and Designers of Multimedia Learning". You can access the book through the WPI library (login required) or get the chapters in Canvas.

If you don't have time to look at both chapters, focus on chapter 1 if your last name starts with A-M, and chapter 2 if your last name starts with N-Z. That way, we'll have people in class who've seen each chapter.

The other link is a one-page summary of the design principles that form chapters 3-8 of this book. Everyone should look at that summary.

Apr 4 (T): Critiquing Lectures

Apr 6 (R): Peer Instruction

Peer Instruction is a participatory learning model that arose at Harvard and has been studied in CS contexts as well. This sessions gives a concrete example to counter-balance the criticisms of plain lectures from Tuesday. You'll read a short overview of the technique, a retrospective from Physics, a study of using PI in upper-level CS courses, and some tips on what not to do, to help you hone your understanding of the technique.

Discussion Questions: (you don't need to submit your answers -- just go through these in class as you discuss the papers. I'll have to miss class this one last time for a previously-scheduled meeting)

  • If an instructor uses clickers to have students answer multiple-choice questions during lecture, does that count as Peer Instruction? If not, what defines Peer Instruction?

  • Does Peer Instruction require the use of clickers? If not, how could you implement PI without clickers? Does show-of-hands work, or does that violate conditions needed to make it work

  • Why/when do you think Peer Instruction is effective?

  • Think about potential uses of Peer Instruction at different levels of expertise: intro classes, mid-level undergraduate classes, graduate courses, etc -- what kinds of topics do you think PI is particularly well suited to at each level? Is there any role for such a technique in graduate courses?

  • What of the literature that we've read so far this term ties into the apparent results around PI?

  • What are the most interesting open questions you can identify about effective use of PI?

Apr 11 (R): The Role of Testing

Apr 13 (R): Preparing Software Engineers

This session looks at papers on how CS education prepares students for industrial software engineering positions.

Apr 18 (T): Software (and program) Testing

Apr 20 (R): Debugging

Apr 25 (T): Automation, Jobs, and Retraining

Apr 27 (R): Project Reports

Each of you will discuss your findings from your course project for roughly 5-7 minutes. You should describe the problem that you chose to work on, what you learned about the current state of your topic, what you found interesting or surprising about your topic, and what you think the key challenges are for your topic area going forward (unanswered questions, research or policy challenges, etc).

You do NOT have to make a formal presentation with slides (though if you want to project a figure etc, you are welcome to do so). It's fine to give your report from your seat. We'll leave some time for questions too, since the goal of the presentations it to give everyone a sense of the state of topics that we didn't get to discuss as an entire class.

The following list is the presentation order, which I developed based on your actual topics (trying to create meaningful transitions/clusterings where appropriate). We get as far as we can on Thursday, finishing the rest on Tuesday (May 2). My goal is to finish 9-10 of the presentations on Thursday.

Order: Neeraj, Giang, Dennis, Logan, Ken C., Will, Francis, Jonathan, Brayden, TJ, Jay, Tyler, Maryann, Andrew, Ken T.

May 2 (T): Remaining Project Reports and Wrap Up

Continuing the remaining presentations, plus some final wrap-up discussion.