Jumping Back In – Academic Papers all CS Teachers Should Read

I find that my browser tabs often are about 25% active work or feeds (email, google docs I’m working on, twitter, Trello, etc.) and 75% things I am waiting to read.  Right now I’m working on reading some follow up references for ICER, some articles from the CS Education list put together on Twitter by Aman Yadav, and some recently released CS curricula (Like San Francisco).

What pushed me past the threshold potential to write this post was an article “Five Academic Papers All Teachers Need to Read“.  In addition to the five papers presented, I thought I would expand upon the list as many teachers and faculty are preparing to return to the classroom for another year of eager young minds, who may (or may not) be waiting for you to educate them. First, I recommend you go and read those 5 papers. (now – seriously – before looking at my list and getting distracted, at least go print them out and add them to your reading pile)

Next, what are the papers that every CS teacher needs to read?

(1) Lister, R., Leaney, J., First Year Programming: Let All the Flowers Bloom (2003) SIGCSE

This paper changed the way that I assess and has formed a cornerstone of the assessment strategy we use at the Academy for Software Engineering.  Although Lister and Leaney are talking about examinations, I apply this to program assignments.  Instead of “Differentiated Instruction”, I am a proponent for “Differentiated Assessment”.  And not just by making our stronger students do *more* work, but deeper and richer work involving higher levels of Bloom’s Taxonomy.  Eric Allatta at AFSE likes to call this “Multiple Exit Points” again flipping the educational jargon of “Multiple Entry Points” on its head. We start every student at the same place, with a requirement 0 that will get them to a passing grade by re-implementing worked examples from notes. (All kinds of good things here – ask and I will share) Requirements 1 and 2 require more thought and reasoning and earn higher grades. An important part of this strategy is that ALL THREE REQUIREMENTS ARE THE SAME ASSIGNMENT. Here’s an example from a scratch project about loops and variables called Font Size.

(2) Lister, R., The Middle Novice Programmer: Reading and Writing Without Abstracting (2007) NACCQ

Yes, I am a fan of Raymond Lister.  This paper is for anyone (college or HS) who teaches programming and thinks that reading and writing code are just two sides of the same skill. They are not. Nope, don’t tell me they are – go and read it and then we can talk.

(3) Institute for Education Sciences, Encouraging Girls in Math and Science (2007)

The practice guide sums up every way CS Educators can easily encourage more girls to persist in their classrooms. Recommendations such as providing clear feedback, highlighting role models, and connecting to real-world applications are connected to specific examples.  The practice guides written by IES are awesome and targeted to educators so they are actionable.

(4) Institute for Education Sciences, Organizing Instruction and Study to Improve Student Learning (2007)

What can I say, IES was on a roll in 2007 for generalizable educational practices. Again written for teachers but research driven, this is another staple for my Introduction to CS Education class I taught at CMU.

(5) Mark Guzdial’s Blog

Let’s face it, new research comes out every day (or few months as the research cycle goes). Rather than point to one more paper, I would recommend Mark’s blog for updates, shameless student paper promotions, and careful thoughts. Lively discussions in the comments too!




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