Saturday, June 11, 2016

Computer Science Because Students Like It

Code.org posted this image of the class students like the most on their blog.

image

The full survey data is on slide 48 of this PowerPoint from the researchers who did the survey.

There is a lot of detail in the referenced PowerPoint but this is certainly an interesting  table. I’ve already seen a lot of discussion of it on Facebook. Being computer science people there are a lot of questions about what it means. The first one being is this result because CS is usually an elective and so we have self-selecting population? A close look at the dats suggests not. Why? Well AP CS scores higher than other AP courses and AP courses are generally filled with students who have an interest in the subject.

Still it would benefit us who teach CS to keep the required CS courses, which are coming more common, interesting. Looking at the courses with more or similar percentages of students who like them the ,most they al involve creativity. That suggests we need to make sure we make our classes as creative as possible.

Of course I think CS is inherently creative and fun. That’s why I have been involved in it for so long. As teachers we needed share that with our students. Cookie cutter assignments were every solution looks the same are not going to cut it with students. No matter how easy they are for teachers to grade. Let’s not teach the fun out of computer science.

3 comments:

Mike Zamansky said...

Alfred,

I'm going to disagree with other AP classes being taken mostly by kids who are interested in the subject.

In my experience, calculus is "the next math class" after pre-calc and so in many schools, it's taken by everyone almost to the point of it being required for those that finish pre-calc before their senior year.

AP English and History classes are frequently drop in replacements for regular history and English classes. At Stuy, they're frequently taught by perceived to be better teacher and since the kids are being pushed in to more and more AP classes, they take them. Some of the teachers at Stuy pretty much teach the same thing in their AP and non AP classes so why not take AP.

Finally, in many schools, kids are encouraged to take an AP science so again, not just interest based.

So, I'd argue that CS is one of the few AP classes where the kids are there because by and large, they want to be.

Mike Zamansky said...

We also know both great CS classes out there and lousy ones. Since it's the wild west in terms of student experiences, it's hard to say - are they enjoying the good ones or the bad ones?

Unknown said...

I'm surprised at the number of kids who take CS for the AP multiplier. Also, the year that students believed CS would be accepted as a language, we had a huge spike in enrollment. 'Pragmatic' concerns seem to influence participation much more than future career pathways or explorative interest.