Teaching & Learning to ProgramToo much doing, not enough understanding             Quintin Cutts            University of ...
Core issues      Is programming learnable by all?Are our typical pedagogies "fit for purpose"?      Apprenticeship -- Accu...
Mindset – attitude to learning – Carol Dweck• Growth or Fixed attitude    – Do I believe my intelligence & abilities are f...
Increasing evidence that programming    is learnable by all – just that we  havent worked out how to teach it!            ...
Remember this?                 …or this?                      CASS Conference 2012
Brucies Generation Game   • Complex skill      – programming   • Explained briefly and with a     demonstration      – lec...
Minimal-guidance considered harmful• Kirschner,Sweller & Clarke• Find little evidence for the success of   – un-scaffolded...
We move to problem solving too soon                             CASS Conference 2012
Outcomes vs. Assessment• Premise 1  – We want learners to understand programming    concepts and skills deeply, to properl...
Who produced the artifact?• The learner  – Great. Our assumption may well be correct.  – Although, monkeys and typewriters...
We use a potentially invalid assessment mechanism                           CASS Conference 2012
Apprenticeship      e.g. a tailor• Initial easy but meaningful tasks     – e.g. ironing          Could we emphasise readin...
Key goal of early Computing Education           Acculturation                    intothe ways computing folk see, understa...
Apprenticeship & industrial teaching …                 attending to the process• Engage students in questioning and discus...
Exploratory       Lecture      Lab       Exam  Homework      Q                U                I                Z1) Indivi...
Apprenticeship – the small tasksWhat are the button-holes, the cutting, the hemming of                   programming?• Ana...
MCQs – testing Abstraction Transitions    MUCH HARDER!                             EASY (ISH) Transitions         Programm...
2-3 CS Speak -> Code                       CASS Conference 2012
1-2 English -> CS SpeakSuppose there are customers waiting in line at the store.You want to serve each customer one at a t...
Scottish schools programming• New curriculum   – potentially good for programming• Scottish Qualifications Agency   – no p...
Suggestions to try  Reduce emphasis on problem solving early on More worked examples moving to faded worked   examples (st...
SummaryDo we believe all our students can get there?     Are we teaching doing or thinking?"Thinking as we do" should beco...
Questions? Discussion?[1] Mazur. Farewell, Lecture? Science. Vol 323: 50-51, 2009.[2] Crouch, Mazur. Peer Instruction: Ten...
Questions? Discussion?[10] Smith et al., Why Peer Discussion Improves Student Performance on In-Class    Concept Questions...
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Quintin Cutts - Teaching and Learning to Program: Too much doing and not enough understanding

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Dr Quintin Cutt's keynote from the CAS Scotland conference 2012.

Quintin has researched and practised programming education for 15 years, involved in UK, US and Australasian projects. He has explored many instructional designs, endeavouring to maximise the value of face-to-face teaching using technology and peer-based learning. He is closely involved with schools, having led CS Inside in Scotland and now running a successful Undergraduate Ambassadors Scheme course.

He is assisting the Scottish Qualifications Authority in the design of new qualifications, in particular developing rigorous examination formats. This is feeding into CPD and exemplification efforts led by the Royal Society of Edinburgh, for which Quintin is a project board member.

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  • It's what we do in programming teaching, of course
  • In this talk, let's address primarily the level of understanding.Understanding programming concepts deeply helps develop the ability to think computationally, to have a computer's mindset. Incredibly valuable when using all modern technology.Also foundation for more programming and further computing science education
  • Everything to do with programming (and even computing?) is captured in the Transitions. Our culture is about taking problems and seeing the broad solution structure / the tools we'll use, and then developing a detailed solution. It's about having a solution, realising it doesn't do quite what we want, and working backwards to understand why – to see the problems with the general solution structure, to understand how to fix that or adjust the problem
  • Quintin Cutts - Teaching and Learning to Program: Too much doing and not enough understanding

    1. 1. Teaching & Learning to ProgramToo much doing, not enough understanding Quintin Cutts University of Glasgow CASS Conference 2012
    2. 2. Core issues Is programming learnable by all?Are our typical pedagogies "fit for purpose"? Apprenticeship -- Acculturation CASS Conference 2012
    3. 3. Mindset – attitude to learning – Carol Dweck• Growth or Fixed attitude – Do I believe my intelligence & abilities are fixed… – … or, can they grow with practice and perseverance?• 20-yr rsch program demonstrates – There is a level of innate ability, and an unknown potential for growth – It is easy to switch between the two attitudes• So many consequences of this simple idea. For example: – "Are the intelligence/abilities of my students fixed?"• Is there something about teaching CS that fosters Fixed mindset? – Mindset study in Glasgow Uni – mindset messages produced 10% improvement – Neo-Piagetian view -> learning in stages – we assume too much too soon – Learning Edge Momentum – captures the stepwise nature of CS learning – CS Principles pilots in US – core understandings assumed but not in place CASS Conference 2012
    4. 4. Increasing evidence that programming is learnable by all – just that we havent worked out how to teach it! CASS Conference 2012
    5. 5. Remember this? …or this? CASS Conference 2012
    6. 6. Brucies Generation Game • Complex skill – programming • Explained briefly and with a demonstration – lecture / lesson / book / video • Contestant left to have a go pretty much on his/her own – set straight to problem solving, usually very few simpler staged tasks first • Final product usually a terrible mess – all too often the same in programming • Sound at all familiar? CASS Conference 2012
    7. 7. Minimal-guidance considered harmful• Kirschner,Sweller & Clarke• Find little evidence for the success of – un-scaffolded problem-based learning – emerges every decade or so under a new name• Argue using cognitive architectures research – short term memory (STM) – 7 +/- 2 items remembered – learning things (committing items to long-term memory) requires rehearsal, requiring STM – problem-solving very intense on short-term memory for novices – no long-term knowledge schemas yet – Since STM jammed, no learning takes place• They claim worked examples are the way to go… CASS Conference 2012
    8. 8. We move to problem solving too soon CASS Conference 2012
    9. 9. Outcomes vs. Assessment• Premise 1 – We want learners to understand programming concepts and skills deeply, to properly equip them for life-long involvement with computation• Premise 2 – We assess a learner’s understanding by measuring the quality of the artifacts they produce – Hence, we must assume that delivery of an artifact == understanding CASS Conference 2012
    10. 10. Who produced the artifact?• The learner – Great. Our assumption may well be correct. – Although, monkeys and typewriters? • (my concern with drag-and-drop etc)• Books / the web / a wizard – Boiler-plate copying is common-place• Teacher / tutor / friend – Often in one ear, out the other – But at least the code is working CASS Conference 2012
    11. 11. We use a potentially invalid assessment mechanism CASS Conference 2012
    12. 12. Apprenticeship e.g. a tailor• Initial easy but meaningful tasks – e.g. ironing Could we emphasise reading and explanation over writing? – observe and acculturate (legitimate peripheral participation)• Given smaller tasks Do we know what the small tasks are? – not a whole suit, but a button hole here, cutting there – setting foundational skills in place• Master is continually observing, ensuring – good decision-making How can we capture process tasks? – correct application of the various processes – quality of intermediate results• Over time, the subtle knowledge necessary for high skill tasks assimilated We need a truly progressive curriculum CASS Conference 2012
    13. 13. Key goal of early Computing Education Acculturation intothe ways computing folk see, understand and solve problems Ah ha! An overarching definition of Computational Thinking? CASS Conference 2012
    14. 14. Apprenticeship & industrial teaching … attending to the process• Engage students in questioning and discussion around typical problems – One-on-one is expensive – can we get peers discussing and explaining?• Relevant pedagogies: – Peer Instruction, Flip Teaching, The Khan Academy• Exemplar course – Beth Simons (and my!) CSE3 at UCSD – 1000 students / yr – Also piloting in schools now – Alice-based programming using Peer Instruction – Practice in working with & seeing problems/code as we do CASS Conference 2012
    15. 15. Exploratory Lecture Lab Exam Homework Q U I Z1) Individual Vote on MCQ PEER INSTRUCTION2) Group Discussion (fixed 3 person) Tutors actively engage groups in justifying/talking Students practice using the language of the subject3) Group Vote (consensus required)4) Class-wide Discussion Led by Students First – Explain WRONG answers Final Cognitive Modeling by Instructor (the Master) CASS Conference 2012
    16. 16. Apprenticeship – the small tasksWhat are the button-holes, the cutting, the hemming of programming?• Analysed 133 PI questions from our intro course• Fine-grained – PI questions cant be large – We focussed on numerous individual aspects of how we think about programs and programming• Analysis led to a taxonomy, organised by – Abstraction levels – Transitions between these levels • e.g. Question stem at one level, answers at another – Mechanism (knowing how something works) and Rationale (knowing why something was done a particular way) CASS Conference 2012
    17. 17. MCQs – testing Abstraction Transitions MUCH HARDER! EASY (ISH) Transitions Programming ConceptsAbstraction Levels 1. English2. CS Speak 3. Code CASS Conference 2012
    18. 18. 2-3 CS Speak -> Code CASS Conference 2012
    19. 19. 1-2 English -> CS SpeakSuppose there are customers waiting in line at the store.You want to serve each customer one at a time, so eachone should walk to the counter one at a time. How couldyou do this?A. Use a DoTogether tileB. Use a DoInOrder tileC. Use a ForAllTogether tileD. Use a ForAllInOrder tile. CASS Conference 2012
    20. 20. Scottish schools programming• New curriculum – potentially good for programming• Scottish Qualifications Agency – no prescribed language for all schools – so how to write an exam paper presenting code?• ** Haggis ** – Pseudo-code specification for learning and teaching – SQA exams to use a version of this• Encouraged adoption of the PI question taxonomy in exam paper setting CASS Conference 2012
    21. 21. Suggestions to try Reduce emphasis on problem solving early on More worked examples moving to faded worked examples (steps left out, to be answered)Get students to articulate understanding often, and give feedback on it Flip your classroom! CASS Conference 2012
    22. 22. SummaryDo we believe all our students can get there? Are we teaching doing or thinking?"Thinking as we do" should become explicit in our course designs CASS Conference 2012
    23. 23. Questions? Discussion?[1] Mazur. Farewell, Lecture? Science. Vol 323: 50-51, 2009.[2] Crouch, Mazur. Peer Instruction: Ten years of experience. Am. J. Phys. 69 (9) 2001.[3] Caldwell. Clickers in the Large Classroom: Current Research and Best-Practice Tips. CBE-Life Sciences Education, 6 (1): 9- 20, 2007.[4] Hrepic, Zollman, Rebello. Students’ and Experts’ Understanding of Lecture. Journal of Science Education and Technology, 16(3): 213-224, 2007.[5] Roediger & Karpicke, Test-Enhanced Learning : Taking Memory Tests Improves Long-Term Retention. Psychological Science 17: p249-255, 2006[6] Karpicke & Blunt, Retrieval Practice Produces More Learning than Elaborative Studying with Concept Mapping. Science Express, p1- 5, January 2011[7] Teasley Talking about Reasoning: How Important is the Peer in Peer Collaboration? In Discourse, Tools and Reasoning, Springer, 1993.[8] Craig, Chi, & VanLehn, Improving Classroom Learning by CASS Conference 2012 Collaboratively Observing Human Tutoring Videos While Problem
    24. 24. Questions? Discussion?[10] Smith et al., Why Peer Discussion Improves Student Performance on In-Class Concept Questions, Science 323, pp122-124, January 2009.[11] Draper, Catalytic Assessment: understanding how MCQs and EVS can foster deep learning, British J. Educational Technology, 40(2) pp285-293, 2009.[12] Russell, Using an Electronic Voting System to Enhance Learning and Teaching, Engineering Education, 3(2), 58-65, 2008.[13] Simon, Cutts, et al., Experience Report: Peer Instruction in Introductory Computing, SIGCSE,2010, pp 341-345, 2010.[14]Cutts, Q., Cutts, E., Draper, S., ODonnell, P. and Saffrey, P., "Manipulating mindset to positively influence introductory programming performance", Proceedings of the 41st ACM SIGCSE symposium, (2010), pp 431-435.[15] Cutts, Q., Esper, S. and Simon, B. (2011) "Computing as the 4th “R”: A General Education Approach to Computing Education" Proceedings of ICER11, 7th International Computing Education Research Workshop, August 2011, Providence, Rhode Island, USA. pp 133-138.[16] Simon, B. and Cutts, Q. (2012) “Peer Instruction: A Teaching Method to Foster Deep Understanding” Comm. ACM 55(2), pp 27-29.[17] Cutts, Q., Esper, S., Fecho, M., Foster, S. & Simon, B. (2012) “The Abstraction Transition Taxonomy: Developing Desired Learning Outcomes through the Lens of Situated Cognition. In proceedings of ICER 12, the 8th International Computing Education Research Conference, Auckland, New Zealand, Sept. 2012.[18]Kirschner, P., Sweller, J. and Clark, R. 2006. Why Minimal Guidance during Instruction Does Not Work: An Analysis of the Failure of Constructivist, Discovery, Problem-Based, Experiential and Inquiry-Based Teaching. Educational Psychologist, 41(2), 75-86.[19]Robins, A. 2010. Learning edge momentum: a new account of outcomes in CS1. Computer Science Education, 20(1), 37-71.[20]Neo-Piagetian Theory of Cognitive Development for Programming – contact Ray Lister, University of Technology, Sydney, Australia. CASS Conference 2012

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