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September 28, 2009

Political Action in Kansas

If you've read a recent piece I co-wrote in Communications of the ACM (membership required), you know that the States largely drive education decisions in the US. Because of this, our community has to play "wack-a-mole" when we hear about issues that pop up in the fifty states affecting computer science education. Luckily, the Computer Science Teachers Association Leadership Cohort is building much of this network, so when Kansas the Board of Regents decided to eliminate computing courses from the core student requirements, we could weigh in with the State. ACM and CSTA sent the board a letter recommending that they put computer science back in the core.

To unpack this issue we need to review how Kansas' education system works. The Kansas State Board of Regents External Link is a nine-member, politically-appointed body that "governs six state universities, and supervises and coordinates 19 community colleges, five technical colleges, six technical schools and a municipal university." State law allows students automatic acceptance into one of Kansas' public universities if they meet certain requirements. These requirements are called the "Qualified Admission Regulations," which are set by the Board.

To meet these requirements, students are required to take four years of English, three years of mathematics, three years of natural science, three years of social science and one year of computer technology. The Board then has a set of standards of content that must be included in these courses. Because of the Qualified Admission's requirements influence over student admissions, it has become the defacto college prep curriculum in Kansas.

Recently the Board convened a task force to review the Qualified Admissions Regulations, which concluded that the technology requirement is outdated and that the content is being taught in other courses. Based on this conclusion, the Board is proposing to cut the computing technology requirement.

It turns out that while the technology requirement was intended to be a basic computing literacy course, it allowed many high schools to develop courses with computer science content. ACM and CSTA's concern is that if the Board eliminates the computing technology requirement students will focus only on the core requirements and computer science courses in Kansas will disappear.

To ensure that Kansas' students are being exposed to rigorous computer science courses and not basic computing literacy, we recommend that:

* the Board update the Qualified Admissions Regulations to reflect core computer science concepts. Further, that the state establish a task force to review Kansas' current science standards (some of which can be found in "standard 5" of the Kansas Curricular Standards for Science for 8th to 12th grade) and how they could be updated to mirror changes to the Qualified Admissions standards.

* "computer science" be added as one of the approved units in either the mathematics or natural sciences Qualified Admissions requirements.

By strengthening computer science education in Kansas, the Board can ensure students are gaining the critical knowledge and skills they will need in the 21st Century.

(Special thanks to Tabitha Hogan, a high school computing teacher in Kansas, for flagging this issue for us.)

Cameron Wilson
ACM Director of Public Policy

Posted by cstephenson at 01:33 PM | Comments (1)

September 21, 2009

Talk Like a Pirate Day

Arrr! I hope everyone had a swashbuckling day this past September 19. As you no doubt knew, September 19 is International Talk Like a Pirate Day - an unofficial holiday in which people from around the world are encouraged to have fun and talk like pirates, saying things like "Arrrr" and "Ahoy, matey" whenever possible. The holiday is the brainchild of John Baur and Mark Summers, who started celebrating it among their friends in 1995. Since then, it has been popularized by Dave Barry in his columns and it now draws hordes of visitors to the Talk Like a Pirate Web site (http://www.talklikeapirate.com), and has even spawned books and a clothing line.

As a teacher, I am always looking for examples and applications that bring a sense of fun to my classroom. Over the years, Talk Like a Pirate (TLAP) Day has been a favorite of mine and my students. One year, I brought eye-patches for my entire class. Have you ever tried to give a 1-hour lecture with an eye patch on? Let me tell you, it's not easy. Plus, it is a challenge to keep your focus when a room full of students are all staring back at you with eye patches.

The great thing about an inspiring idea, is that it can be adapted to different courses. I have used it in CS0 courses, where I have given students a Web-based pirate translator and asked them to play with it and make additions to its vocabulary. I have used it in CS1/CS2 courses in which students wrote translators from scratch, including some fairly complex text processing and GUI-design. I have even used it in a more advanced Web Programming course, where students implemented server-side translators that could select from different languages for translation (such as English to Pirate, or Pirate to Spanish). Some of these are described in the presentation I gave at the Nifty Assignments panel at SIGCSE 2004:

http://nifty/stanford.edu/2004/TalkLikeAPirate

Or check out my latest translator version at:

http://dave-reed.com/TalkLikeAPirate.

Granted, talking like a pirate may not be your thing. But keep on the lookout for inspirations like this that allow you to bring some fun (or should I call it "flair") to your teaching. As teachers, we need to convey a sense of creativity and excitement about computing, and sometimes being a little silly helps.

And mark September 19 on your calendar for next year so that you are prepared to talk like a pirate, ya scurvy dog!

Cap'n Dave Reed
CSTA Board of Directors

Posted by cstephenson at 12:30 PM | Comments (0)

September 17, 2009

Equity in the Light of Fairness

Let me start by saying I am new to this board of directors and I do not really have a good feel for what YOU want to hear or read about just yet. So I thought I would share an idea that has been floating through my head. We all know there is an underrepresentation of females in computer science. That is no secret. But sometimes, I find myself asking questions such as,"does it really matter?" If girls do not want to be computer scientists, why are we pressuring them? Why do we put funding and large efforts into programs that attract girls to the discipline, only to have a small return on the investment? (And I run quite a few of these programs!) And by having equal numbers of male and female students in the discipline, just what would that accomplish? Is it simply a matter of wanting what we do not have?

These questions spawn from a thought that has stuck with me since my undergraduate days in education. In one of our foundations of education courses, we were taught about the concept of fairness. The professor defined fairness not as everyone getting the same thing, but everyone getting what they deserve. I think it makes a much more compelling case to think about equity in computer science if we think about it in the light of fairness.

I wonder if, in looking at this concept of fairness for female computer science students, we focus too much on the construct of 'female'. By singling out the women who do choose to go into computer science, does that make them sense more of the differences that already exist naturally? Obviously, we know males and females are very different, in their thoughts, desires, skills, etc. So, if we come back to this idea of fairness, fairness for a female in computer science should focus on meeting each individual's needs regardless of gender. Certainly, the concept of differentiated instruction is nothing new. Schools have been doing it for years based on ability levels, special needs, and talents. So what would our curricular and co-curricular efforts look like if we focus on individual needs and gender is just one of the considerations in those needs? Does it change how we do things today? And more importantly, does it change the 'face' of computer science and those seeking to engage in the discipline?

Unfortunately, I do not have an answer to all these questions. If you have tried anything like this, I would love to hear about it. However, I do know that females are very important to computer science because of those differences in thoughts, desires, and skills. It is the collective combination of the variety of characteristics among those in the discipline that will continue to spur us into the next century of new discoveries. And embracing that variety is what will promote fairness for years to come.

Mindy Hart
CSTA Board of Directors

Posted by cstephenson at 12:57 PM | Comments (0)

September 15, 2009

Report from the AZ Leadership Cohort

I am fortunate that my fellow Arizona representative on the Leadership Cohort, Renee Ciezki, is a friend from the same school district. Although this has probably limited our vision a little, it has made it very easy to communicate. It also turns out that we share many common values about teaching and CS. So during our Cohort training we were able to quickly get on the same page and form a concrete set of goals that we wished to pursue. I would encourage cohorts to develop a strong partnership with one another as much as geography allows.

The natural starting point for us was getting the chapter established, so we made this a big priority. As I recall, about 8-10 people attended our informational meeting, and several others expressed a strong interest but could not attend. We immediately got started on the chapter creation process and we were officially recognized in early February. We had agreed to meet every other month at different venues in the Phoenix metro area to try to accommodate teachers in various parts of town. In April, several of us were in Tucson for an FBLA conference, so we held a meeting there to reach out to teachers in that part of the state.

This was all very exciting of course, and I think Renee and I both felt like we had accomplished a number of our goals. However, at the end of the (school) year when it was time to actually evaluate our state of affairs, we were a little surprised. It turns out that we hadn't actually looked at our "goals document" in many months! As the chapter came together and began to establish its own initiatives, Renee and I got caught up in those, and I guess in our minds those efforts became our goals for the year. There was never a moment when we consciously abandoned our Cohort goals, of course; I think our CSTA efforts in general just blurred together. The net effect of this is that we failed to make much headway on the Cohort goals we had set when we went through the training.

I don't think the Chapter work needs to be completely distinct from our goals as cohort members, but in our case the two happened to be very divergent. As cohort members, we had set goals relating to advocating the importance of CS education, while as a Chapter we wished to work on professional development opportunities. So it becomes a question of priorities. Time that we spend on chapter activities is time we don't have to spend on our advocacy goals.

The summary here is that there is enough work for everyone in the effort to expand and improve CS education. While we as cohort members need to continue to remind ourselves of the advocacy goals we have set and work toward them, there are many other activities that need attention. As cohort members reach out to the CSTA membership in each state, we encourage you to get involved. Everyone can make a contribution.

Tim McMichael
CSTA Leadership Cohort Member (AZ)

Posted by cstephenson at 04:13 PM | Comments (0)

September 11, 2009

Binary "Bits" For All!

In 1988 David Macaulay's classic The Way Things Work was published. In 1998, he followed up this very successful book with The New Way Things Work, which includes a chapter entitled "The Digital Domain." This chapter begins with a very entertaining explanation of bits and binary arithmetic in a story that involves crating up pumpkins from a pumpkin patch. I had the good fortune to come across this story just before going to an elementary school to introduce the concept of binary numbers.

The plan was to teach children in 5th, 4th, and 2nd grade how digitized data is represented, using the "Count the Dots" activity in CS Unplugged:

http://www.csunplugged.org

The story was a great lead in, but I had no idea how timely the lesson was until after I presented it. Without realizing the connection, I brought big round, scalloped edge, orange sticky notes with me to use as dots on sheets of paper showing 1, 2, 4, and 8 dots. The sticky notes looked just like pumpkins! Moreover, the timing of the lesson, in the latter part of October shortly before Halloween, couldn't have been better, to attach the idea of pumpkins and binary numbers to something familiar in the childrens' experience. Even the 2nd graders got it.

Just a few more notes: The 5th graders had no problem including 16 dots on a sheet of paper, so we could represent larger values with them, but 2nd graders are not ready for that. 2nd graders are, however, good at doubling, so even though they haven't started multiplying in their math lessons, they do get the binary concept. I made individual sets of small cards for each child so they could practice representing numbers in binary, individually or in pairs. In the future, I will have the students build the large sheets of paper with the orange sticky note dots with me to increase their understanding. I will also have them make their own sets of individual cards and draw pumpkins on the cards for the dots. I showed YouTube videos (links from CS Unplugged and MathManiaCS) demonstrating counting in binary. The kids enjoy that and it is something they can try for themselves, counting on their fingers. Another link goes to a page where a clever piano keys activity for binary numbers is found.

A great introduction to binary numbers that can be used in an introductory programming class at the high school level can be found at:

http://apcentral.collegeboard.com/apc/members/courses/teachers_corner/45338.html

And more motivation comes with the Cisco Binary Game:

http://forums.cisco.com/CertCom/game/binary_game_page.htm

Be careful...this one is addictive!

Macauly, David. The New Way Things Work, Houghton Mifflin Company. (1998).
ISBN 10: 0-395-93647-3.

http://www.csunplugged.org
http://www.mathmaniacs.org
http://www.mathmaniacs.org/lessons/01-binary/Binary_Piano/

Contributed by Kathy Larson

Posted by cstephenson at 01:54 PM | Comments (0)

September 10, 2009

Using GameMaker to Spark an Interest in CS

In my work with middle school students, I feel that it is my responsibility to expose my students to as many topics as possible. It is my hope that by exposing them to a variety of topics, these students will find some that interest them to continue with during high school and even beyond.

Last spring, I was introduced to GameMaker. This application is a great way to integrate computer science and the making of games. GameMaker allows students to create games in a manner similar to Scratch. GameMaker uses a drag and drop method to create the code for students to make their own games. Just like Scratch, GameMaker has its own community environment in the form of a Web site. In the Web site, one can find tutorials, documentation, a wiki and other resources. Best of all, GameMaker is a free download and can be downloaded from:

www.yoyogames.com.

I think that GameMaker is a great resource to use to get students interested in computer science and to introduce them to the art of reading code and learning about other computer science concepts. I would love to hear about your experience with GameMaker or other introductory computer science applications.

Dave Burkhart
CSTA Board of Directors
K-8 Representative

Posted by cstephenson at 04:13 PM | Comments (1)

September 09, 2009

New Podcast on Building a CS Program in Middle School

For the past year or so I've been visiting with interesting computer science educators and professionals in order to bring to you cool classroom strategies and interesting CS topics to ponder. The CSTA Snipits podcasts:

http://csta.acm.org/Communications/sub/Podcasts.html

are a result of those experiences.

Tracking down and scheduling a visit with these individuals can be quite a challenge. Maybe that indicates why they are so interesting to talk with. They are some of the busiest and most involved individuals you might ever meet.

During the CS & IT Symposium and NECC 2009 I managed to corner several podcast guests. We met in a semi-quiet (!) corner of the main hall of NECC, in the dining room staging area, in a frigid annex in a hotel, and on the curb sitting on packed luggage moments before the Metro was to arrive.

All of these visits were well worth the effort. I learned so much about what is happening around the country and know you will find the stories inspiring as well. I hope you will enjoy the conversations and find cool ideas you can put to work for your students.

One of the latest podcasts is my conversation with Michelle Hutton. Michelle is a founding member and current president of the Computer Science Teachers Association. She teaches computer science at the Girls' Middle School in Mountain View, CA. The Girls' Middle School is a 6-8th grade all-girls school where CS in mandatory for all students. Michelle used the ACM Model Curriculum for K-12 Computer Science to build an exciting three-year program with interesting projects and serious CS learning.

Listen in on our conversation about how CS became a required course and details on CS education in the middle school.

CS in the Middle School with Michelle Hutton
Medium: MP3
Listening Time: 7 min.

Pat Phillips
Editor, CSTA Voice
Host, CSTA Podcasts

Posted by cstephenson at 05:57 PM | Comments (0)

September 07, 2009

Summer is Over. I Know Because I am Wearing Shoes Again

Last year was the first year in our Great Transition, from teaching computer application courses to integrating computer science concepts into all of our courses. It was a challenge that will continue into this year. So as I prepare for the new school year I have been thinking about our curriculum, tinkering with last year's lessons, and developing some new ones.

Every summer I read or reread a few "classic" books. This year I read George Orwell's 1984. I also read Jane Mayer's The Dark Side, which chronicles the USA's post-9/11 foray into torture, renditions, etc. Fiction and non-fiction were blurred yet married by actions of those with strongly held beliefs, utilizing every tool at their disposal to justify their actions and further their cause. Remember the telescreens of Big Brother, with their 24-hour non-stop campaign of mis-information?

As the health care debate raged into August, I too was bombarded with misinformation via talk shows, emails, Facebook postings, and Twitter updates from across the political spectrum (from the President's office, the offices of my Senator and Congressmen, various political organizations, and the good old newspaper).

I also watched the citizen unrest in Iran, through blogs on the web, YouTube videos and Twitter updates.

Finally, the last few days of summer brought news that Utah had passed a law equating driving while texting to driving while intoxicated.

Is there a CS link with all this? Well, there was clearly a technological component to these experiences. The delivery of information has changed, moving down to the micro-level of individual journalism, but still clinging at the macro-level of control of information by government and organizations. It all led me to consider that wise saying from Spiderman "with great power comes great responsibility." I wonder whether we, as the teachers of this technology to the youth of our society, might add lessons on the ethical and moral responsibilities of that technology while we are sneaking in the critical thinking and problem solving skill lessons.

The high school students that sit in my classroom have lived with computers and technology their whole lives. They use this technology without giving any thought to how it works and the power it represents. In some ways it is similar to how my generation grew up with a telephone and television.

I believe that my students often use this technology without thought or consequence. Given the opportunity, they will text and tweet while engaging in other activities, giving superficial, if any, thought to the context in which they are communicating or to any impact of their actions. As a result we have cyber-bullying, texting-related automobile accidents, new forms of cheating, rampant plagiarism, and young girls being charged with crimes because they emailed semi-naked pictures of themselves to their friends. Much of this irresponsibility, I think, is without intent or malice. Rather, it stems from their complete comfort with the technology.

When I was first learning to drive, my dad handed me the car keys for a driving lesson, but before I started the engine he said to me: "I just handed you the keys to a 2,000 pound weapon. Let's talk about how to handle it before you get started." Maybe we need to consider a similar lesson as our students start up their iPODs, laptops, and cell phones.

Ron Martorelli
CSTA Board of Directors

Posted by cstephenson at 05:25 PM | Comments (0)

September 04, 2009

Putting Computing in the Core

In early August, the U.S. Department of Education released the proposed structure of the $4.5 billion Race to the Top Fund. In short, this fund will distribute billions to states for improving education in the K-12 space:

http://www.ed.gov/programs/racetothetop/index.html

The ACM Education Policy Committee, along with CSTA, the Computing Research Association, and the National Center for Women & Information Technology filed a detail set of comments on the proposed structure of the fund including a number of recommendations geared at ensuring that the final grant structure specifically includes computer science education and recognizes the critical role computer science must play in STEM education reform.

Specifically, our comments argue that the Race to the Top legislation should go further in addressing the challenges currently facing computer science at the K-12 level. It should ensure that resources can be dedicated to computer science education and not erect unintentional barriers to improving this subject area. Further, the final notice should place STEM education on equal footing with the required reform areas. We have offered the following specific recommendations to address these issues.

1.A. Add "computer science" after "study in...mathematics, sciences," to the Proposed Priority #2 (for STEM education) clarifying that a state application can support reform of existing computer science courses, introduce new rigorous computer science standards and courses, and support computer science teachers.

1.B. Make Proposed Priority #2 (for STEM education) an absolute priority where a state application would have to describe how the state intends to improve STEM education (with appropriate selection criteria, minimum proposed evidence and proposed performance measures).

2. Coupled with our recommendation (1.B.) add a new section (A)(4) containing selection criteria for subjects in STEM areas, including computer science, that may not be part of the "common set of K-12 standards" but are critical to ensuring student competitiveness in the 21st Century.

3.A. Add an evaluation measure to the minimum proposed evidence (C )(1) "Providing alternative pathways for aspiring teachers and principals" that a state demonstrate to what extent its alternative certification program for STEM teachers, including computer science, draws upon nationally recognized models.

3.B. Independent of the final notice, the Department should use federal funds to create a clearing-house of best practices for teacher certification in STEM fields that should facilitate the information sharing between states on effective certification and endorsement models.

4. Add "computer science" after "...including mathematics, science" in section (C )(3) "Ensuring equitable distribution of effective teachers and principals."

5. Provide flexibility in the reporting requirements in section (C )(4) "Reporting the effectiveness of teacher and principal preparation programs" for new credentialing programs developed in areas where assessment data is limited, such as computer science.

You can view the complete response document at:

http://www.acm.org/public-policy/race_to_the_top_comments_final.pdf

Chris Stephenson
CSTA Executive Director

Posted by cstephenson at 10:16 AM | Comments (1)

September 03, 2009

Time For Another Paradigm Shift

Unstructured code (BASIC), structured code and procedural programming (Pascal), object-oriented code (C++ or Java). We've all been through one or more of these paradigm shifts. Each has had its own challenges which we have overcome. Now is the time for a paradigm shift in our K-12 education progression. Every student should be expected to take a basic computer science course where he or she can learn to "think like a computer scientist" as described by Dr. Jeannette Wing in her article Computational Thinking published in the March 2006 issue of the Communications of the ACM. Dr. Wing makes a convincing case that computational thinking is "For everyone, everywhere".

In the article, Dr. Wing states:

"Computational thinking is a grand vision to guide computer science educators, researchers, and practitioners as we act to change society's image of the field. We especially need to reach the pre-college audience, including teachers, parents, and students, sending them two main messages:

Intellectually challenging and engaging scientific problems remain to be understood and solved. The problem domain and solution domain are limited only by our own curiosity and creativity; and

One can major in computer science and do anything. One can major in English or mathematics and go on to a multitude of different careers. Ditto computer science. One can major in computer science and go on to a career in medicine, law, business, politics, any type of science or engineering, and even the arts."

So how do we make this shift and where do we find time in students' schedules for another course? State and local school boards are adding graduation requirements in an attempt to better prepare our students for life after high school. Virginia has increased the number of credits required to earn the “advanced” diploma from 24 to 26 and requires each high school student to take the course "Economics Education and Financial Literacy." In light of the current economic conditions, one can hardly argue with this worthy objective, but shouldn't we be developing their problem-solving and logical thinking skills, also?

We expect students to take a proscribed sequence of mathematics courses, science courses, and social science courses. We should provide a sequence of computer science courses, and expect every student to take the first course. The Computer Science Equity Alliance, jointly sponsored by UCLA and the Los Angeles Unified School District developed an introductory course. Other states are pursuing similar efforts. It is time for us to work together behind the ACM model curriculum to effect this change. This is a change we need.

John Harrison
CSTA Board of Directors

Posted by cstephenson at 08:42 PM | Comments (1)

September 02, 2009

What is CSTA?

The Computer Science Teachers Association has come a long way since its fledgling days after its founding in 2005.

The area I am most proud of is our membership. From the very beginning, CSTA has been about building community among computing teachers and the people who care about them. Our 7300+ members range from elementary school teachers through graduate school professors. Through the Leadership Cohort, local communities have started to form. Each chapter has members from the K-12 and university arenas.

One of CSTA's great strengths is its volunteers. Every single CSTA resource was created by a group of dedicated volunteers who gave their time and expertise to provide something of value for the community. The original steering committee who created the organization has evolved into a fully elected Board of Directors that encompasses representatives from all levels of education; all of whom give hours of their time each month to guide the organization. CSTA is also fortunate to have an Advisory Committee of experts from education, industry, and government who provide us with a broad perspective for all of our activities.

CSTA continues to host a number of key events that provide offer professional development for our community. The Computer Science & Information Technology Symposium has a ten-year track record. It has become the premier national professional development event for K-12 computer science and information technology teachers.

In an effort to provide more local access to professional development and community, CSTA also continues to work with in partnership with colleges and universities to provide workshops through the Teacher Enrichment in Computer Science program. We expect that this program will continue to expand as more local CSTA chapters are formed. Last year we have held two workshops (one at Google and one at SIGCSE) to help colleges and universities improve their outreach to K-12.

CSTA also continues to focus on providing key benefits to its members, including the CSTA Voice, copies of CSTA white papers, classroom posters, careers brochures, and curriculum resources just to name a few.

And because the needs and concerns of our field are greater than any one organization, CSTA is also building strong partnerships across the community, with groups such as ACM SIGCSE,the Anita Borg Institute, the National Center for Women in Information Technology, the College Board, and the National Science Foundation.

If you are a member, thank you for continuing to support us in all of these efforts. If you are not yet a member, come be part of this vibrant and dedicated community! You can join online at:

http://csta.acm.org/Membership/sub/IndividualMembership.html

Michelle Hutton
CSTA President

Posted by cstephenson at 02:25 PM | Comments (0)

September 01, 2009

Assessing Impact in Computing Education

I spend much of my time thinking about reforming computer science education in Los Angeles. My goal is to make computer science courses accessible and engaging for students who have not traditionally participated in computing. To this end, I have been part of a dynamic team (the Computer Science Equity Alliance) that has developed a new course which introduces students to the foundational knowledge of computer science. In the professional development which is coupled with this course, a dynamic community of teachers, expert practitioners, and university faculty come together to build individual and collective knowledge about computing topics and the instructional strategies needed to engage diverse students in computer science. We piloted this course the first year in seven schools and enrolled 300 students. This fall, the course will be offered in 20 schools in the Los Angeles Unified school district.

However, measuring the impact of this effort has different meanings for different national and local stakeholders. Thought the mere existence of this course when there were no courses before is a measure of success itself, the computer science education community wants to know more about the impact of this course on high school students.

When informed about this effort or other K-12 initiatives in computing, many leaders of computer science education often seek measures of longitudinal effectiveness:
* Do these students take other computing courses?
* Do the students pursue a major in computing?
* Pursue advanced degrees?
* Work in the computing industry?

Other STEM educators believe the way to measure the impact of a foundational computing course is to measure mathematics and science achievement skills of students participating in the course, and compare these scores to non-computer science takers. They want to know, does learning about foundational knowledge in computing raise test scores in related subjects?

While these questions are important, I resist the urge to rely on this type of data to measure the success of our mission to broaden participation in high school computing. Our goal is for all students to develop an understanding of the computing discipline, not to train them to enter the pipeline and become computer scientists. Just as reforming algebra education does not set its goal as more math majors, computing education at K-12 should not be judged on higher education enrollment patterns. There are just too many confounding variables in play in decision-making at the college level. And while we anticipate that developed computational thinking skills might transfer to tackling problems in other STEM subjects, focusing on test scores in math and science reflects an unfortunate belief that computing is only important for its positive impact on achievement disciplines, rather than a discipline itself.

Instead, I believe the best data will come from looking at enrollment patterns over time (increases by gender, race, English language learner status); how many students continue to more advanced courses when offered at their school, interviewing teachers about their experiences teaching computing to Los Angeles students, and collecting pre- and post-class survey data from computing students about their perception of the importance of computer science, their interest in the subject, and their motivation to pursue further study. For us, this triangulation of data will most truly assess the effectiveness of a foundational course for broadening participation in high school computer science.

A student response elucidates this perspective: "I'm still paving my path to become a professional musician, but now I can use what I've learned from this computer science class to further that career, using codes for websites, banners, playlists, etc." Though not pursuing computer science as a profession, the knowledge of computing will influence this young person's life goals. For me, a course that offers such opportunities is the goal in itself.

Joanna Goode
CSTA Board of Directors

Posted by cstephenson at 01:25 PM | Comments (0)