References and Resources

This morning the SIGCSE list shifted to a positive light with folks thinking about how to reflect on practice. I offered the following as some references and resources that I thought would be great to share here. From my email:

Thanks for shifting this to a positive frame! I’d also like to contribute some resources to folks who are thinking about questioning their practice and looking for references.

While we know about some CS specific pedagogical approaches (through SIGCSE publications, ICER, and Mark Guzdial’s blog) there are also some more general resources people may not be aware of.

The Institute for Education Sciences (IES), which is the US DOE research division, has a couple of practice guides that may be of interest to this community.

Organizing Instruction and Study to Improve Student Learning

Encouraging Girls in Math and Science

In addition to those two guides, you may also be interested in applying some of the research-backed recommendations from these guides as well:

Using Student Achievement Data to Support Instructional Decision Making

Improving Mathematical Problem Solving Grades 4-8

Teaching Strategies for Improving Algebra Knowledge for Middle and High School Students

Although the last two are specific to mathematics, the struggles students have with abstraction and algebraic representation are mirrored in novices attempts to learn to program.  Substitute code problems and worked examples for the algebraic ones discussed and you have some interesting pedagogical practices that may impact your students.  Much of the research indicates the more students are able to discuss with each other (similar to the Peer Instruction work in CS, or the Think-Pair-Share protocol) the more they will learn and retain.

A quick note: even though some recommendations are marked with “low” evidence, I can assure you that does not mean “low” in the way you are thinking. Low indicates quasi-experimental design with results for a few studies. Few SIGCSE studies would meet IES’s standard for review, let alone be qualified as any level of evidence (as most lack a control group). This statement is not made to judge SIGCSE work, but instead communicate the rigor IES is using for evaluation.

I would also recommend the Teach Like a Champion series.  It is a great collection of pedagogical approaches that help clarify the power moves a teacher can make in real-time in a classroom to engage students in deeper learning. Not all of the suggestions are for everyone, but choosing a few can start you thinking about pedagogy in your class in a way that doesn’t feel like “more work” or taking time away from your research (except for the initial reading).

Without the option to have a faculty specific methods course for all – these resources (and recommending them to grad students and new faculty) can also be impactful. At CMU I taught a course – Introduction to CS Education which involved opportunities for microteaching, as well as readings from the practice guides above.  Grad students who took the course shared with me that they wrote better teaching statements, and made better research presentations after completing the course.

Thank you all for hanging in through this long message.

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