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What We Know About Teaching Computer Science ("What does Guzdial do, Anyway?")
We have known for over 30 years that learning to program is surprisingly hard. A series of international studies have shown remarkably little success in teaching programming. In my group, we have been developing approaches to improve learning about computing, by improving retention through relevance and by teaching in problem domain context. Our classes and studies have utilized computer-supported collaborative learning, so we explore learning on-line as well as in-classroom. We have learned how anchored collaboration can lead to longer on-topic discussions, but how perceptions of course culture can dramatically inhibit discussion. We have shown that well-designed on-line activities can lead to better learning at reduced cost (including time costs for the student and instructor). We are currently developing an ebook for learning computer science by high school teachers where we are trying to integrate these lessons for a new audience.
Mark Guzdial is a Professor in the School of Interactive Computing in the College of Computing at Georgia Institute of Technology. His research focuses on learning sciences and technology, specifically, computing education research. He has published several books on the use of media as a context for learning computing. He was the original developer of the "Swiki" which was the first wiki designed for educational use. He was awarded a joint Ph.D. degree in Education and Computer Science from the University of Michigan in 1993. He serves on the ACM's Education Council and the Special Interest Group in CS Education (SIGCSE) Board, and is on the editorial boards of the "Journal of the Learning Sciences," "ACM Transactions on Computing Education," and "Communications of the ACM." With his wife and colleague, Barbara Ericson, he received the 2010 ACM Karl V. Karlstrom Outstanding Educator award. He was also the recipient of the 2012 IEEE Computer Society Undergraduate Teaching Award. He directed "Georgia Computes!" a six year effort to improve computing education in the state of Georgia.