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Creative Expression to Motivate Interest in 
Computing 
Mark Guzdial & Barbara Ericson 
School of Interactive Computing
Story 
• Programming is hard: 
Need motivation to get there 
• Rigor, Jobs, Creative Expression 
• Media Computation 
• Ex...
The Rainfall Problem 
• Problem: Read in integers that represent 
daily rainfall, and printout the average daily 
rainfall...
Results at Yale in Pascal in 1983 
% of Students who got 
it right 
Novices (3/4 through first 
course) 
14% 
Intermediate...
Programming is hard 
• Elliot Soloway and his students replicated this 
study several times. 
• Others have used this same...
"There are three things to 
emphasize in teaching: The first is 
motivation, 
the second is motivation, 
and the third is ...
So why study programming? 
• In Europe and Australasia, Computer 
Science is a discipline worthy of rigorous 
study. 
• In...
Simon Peyton-Jones, 
CAS
Emphasis in US: Jobs
1.4M IT jobs in US 
400K graduates 
OCTOBER 5, 2012 
Code.org
Why another motivation? 
• Who is not motivated by the current 
approach? 
• Whose talents are we missing out on 
because ...
Thanks 
to Brian 
Danielak
Media Computation: 
A Context to Motivate Learning Computing 
• Fall 1999: 
All students at Georgia Tech must take a cours...
Contextualized Computing Education 
• What’s going on? 
• Research results: Computing is 
“tedious, boring, irrelevant” 
•...
Media Computation: 
A Context of Digital Expression 
• Programming across 
data abstractions 
• Iteration as creating 
neg...
def clearRed(picture): 
for pixel in getPixels(picture): 
setRed(pixel,0) 
def greyscale(picture): 
for p in getPixels(pic...
17 
Open-ended, contextualized homework 
in Media Computation CS1 & CS2 
Sound collage 
Linked list 
as canon
Flags 
Your assignment is to write a function that will create a 
collage of pictures. Your collage will be made by 
copyi...
Study-Abroad 
CS
Results:CS1“Media Computation” 
Change in Success rates in CS1 “Media 
Computation” from Spring 2003 to Fall 2005 
(Overal...
We have sustained that pace 
Table 1: Ret ent ion dat a for Geor gia Tech’s M edia- 
Comp cour se f r om Fal l 2006–Fal l ...
UCSD’s PI+PP+MediaComp Experiment (SIGCSE 2013) 
• UCSD changed CS1 
(quarter system) in 
2008 to: 
• Peer Instruction 
• ...
BS in Computational Media 
• Joint between School 
of Literature, Media, 
and Communications 
(Liberal Arts) and 
Computin...
A Sample Lesson
How sound works: 
Acoustics, the physics of sound
Digitizing Sound: How do 
we get that into bytes? 
• Remember in 
calculus, 
estimating the 
curve by 
creating 
rectangle...
Now let’s talk about information
• Get a sound and make an empty picture. 
• For each pixel in empty picture, 
• Get the next sample from the sound. 
• If ...
Beyond Undergrad 
• Using creative expression to motivate 
elementary and secondary students. 
• And teachers.
AP CS A 
Picture Lab - Lots of Fun 
We just completed the Picture Lab and I wanted to take a moment to thank 
Barbara Eric...
Summer Camp Collages
Summer Camp Collages
Summer Camp Collages
Summer Camp Green Screen
Summer Camp Green Screen
Teacher Collages
Teacher Collages
Teacher Collages
Teacher Green Screen
Other Creative Tools for K-12 
• Scratch 
• Alice 
• LEGO Robots 
• Artbotics 
• EarSketch 
• Writing programs to remix mu...
Scratch – Elementary School
Scratch – Middle School
Alice – High School
Alice – High School
WeDo Spin Art
Drawing with Robots
ArtBotics 
• Use LEGO NXT and EV3 to make art 
• http://artbotics.cs.uml.edu/wordpress/?page_id 
=177 
• https://www.youtu...
EarSketch 
• Write programs to remix music 
• http://earsketch.gatech.edu
With thanks to our supporters 
• US National Science Foundation 
• Statewide BPC Alliance: Project “Georgia Computes!” 
ht...
Thank you! 
• http://www.cc.gatech.edu/~mark.guzdial 
http://home.cc.gatech.edu/csl 
• http://coweb.cc.gatech.edu/ice-gt 
...
Rutgers Invited Talk: Creative Expression to Motivate Interest in Computing
Rutgers Invited Talk: Creative Expression to Motivate Interest in Computing
Rutgers Invited Talk: Creative Expression to Motivate Interest in Computing
Rutgers Invited Talk: Creative Expression to Motivate Interest in Computing
Rutgers Invited Talk: Creative Expression to Motivate Interest in Computing
Rutgers Invited Talk: Creative Expression to Motivate Interest in Computing
Rutgers Invited Talk: Creative Expression to Motivate Interest in Computing
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Rutgers Invited Talk: Creative Expression to Motivate Interest in Computing

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Efforts in the US to promote learning about computer science and computational thinking emphasize the vocational benefits. Research on end-user programming suggests that for every professional software developer in the United States, there are four more professionals who program as part of doing their job. Efforts in other countries (UK, Denmark, New Zealand) instead emphasize the value of computing as a rigorous discipline providing insight into our world. We offer a third motivation: computing as a powerful medium for creative expression. We have used computational media to motivate children to study computing, to go beyond thinking about “geeks” in computing. We use media computation to encourage teachers and introductory students at college. The approach draws in a different audience than we normally get in computer science The BS in Computational Media at Georgia Tech is the most gender-balanced, ABET-accredited undergraduate computing degree in the United States. We use these examples to paint a picture of using creative expression to motivate interest in computing.

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Rutgers Invited Talk: Creative Expression to Motivate Interest in Computing

  1. 1. Creative Expression to Motivate Interest in Computing Mark Guzdial & Barbara Ericson School of Interactive Computing
  2. 2. Story • Programming is hard: Need motivation to get there • Rigor, Jobs, Creative Expression • Media Computation • Example Lesson with Media Computation • Along the Pipeline: From Elementary Students to Teachers
  3. 3. The Rainfall Problem • Problem: Read in integers that represent daily rainfall, and printout the average daily rainfall. • If the input value of rainfall is less than zero, prompt the user for a new rainfall amount. • When you read in 99999, print out the average of the positive integers that were input other than 99999.
  4. 4. Results at Yale in Pascal in 1983 % of Students who got it right Novices (3/4 through first course) 14% Intermediates (3/4 through second course) 36% Advanced (Jrs and Srs in Systems Programming) 69%
  5. 5. Programming is hard • Elliot Soloway and his students replicated this study several times. • Others have used this same problem with similar results (Most recently: Venable, Tan, and Lister, 2009) • 2001: McCracken Working Group Study • The first of several Multi-Institutional, Multi-National (MIMN) studies of CS education • Out of a possible 110 points, average score was 22.89. • 2004 Lister Group; 2010 Allison Elliot Tew
  6. 6. "There are three things to emphasize in teaching: The first is motivation, the second is motivation, and the third is (you guessed it) motivation." - Terrel H. Bell, U.S. Secretary of Education, 1981–1985 (Bell, 1995)
  7. 7. So why study programming? • In Europe and Australasia, Computer Science is a discipline worthy of rigorous study. • In The United States, Computer Science is about jobs.
  8. 8. Simon Peyton-Jones, CAS
  9. 9. Emphasis in US: Jobs
  10. 10. 1.4M IT jobs in US 400K graduates OCTOBER 5, 2012 Code.org
  11. 11. Why another motivation? • Who is not motivated by the current approach? • Whose talents are we missing out on because of this motivation?
  12. 12. Thanks to Brian Danielak
  13. 13. Media Computation: A Context to Motivate Learning Computing • Fall 1999: All students at Georgia Tech must take a course in computer science. • Considered part of General Education, like mathematics, social science, humanities… • 1999-2003: Only one course met the requirement. • Shackelford’s pseudocode approach in 1999 • Later Scheme: How to Design Programs (MIT Press) • Less than half of students in Liberal Arts, Architecture, or Business passed this course.
  14. 14. Contextualized Computing Education • What’s going on? • Research results: Computing is “tedious, boring, irrelevant” • Since Spring 2003, Georgia Tech teaches three introductory CS courses. • Based on Margolis and Fisher’s “alternative paths” • Each course introduces computing using a context (examples, homework assignments, lecture discussion) relevant to majors. • Make computing relevant by teaching it in terms of what computers are good for (from the students’ perspective)
  15. 15. Media Computation: A Context of Digital Expression • Programming across data abstractions • Iteration as creating negative and grayscale images • Indexing in a range as removing redeye • Algorithms for blending both images and sounds • Information encodings as sound visualizations 15
  16. 16. def clearRed(picture): for pixel in getPixels(picture): setRed(pixel,0) def greyscale(picture): for p in getPixels(picture): redness=getRed(p) greenness=getGreen(p) blueness=getBlue(p) luminance=(redness+blueness+greenness)/3 setColor(p, makeColor(luminance,luminance,luminance)) def negative(picture): for px in getPixels(picture): red=getRed(px) green=getGreen(px) blue=getBlue(px) negColor=makeColor(255-red,255-green,255-blue) setColor(px,negColor)
  17. 17. 17 Open-ended, contextualized homework in Media Computation CS1 & CS2 Sound collage Linked list as canon
  18. 18. Flags Your assignment is to write a function that will create a collage of pictures. Your collage will be made by copying at least 3 pictures onto a blank canvas. You must use at least 3 different pictures. When finished, your collage should look like the flag of a country.
  19. 19. Study-Abroad CS
  20. 20. Results:CS1“Media Computation” Change in Success rates in CS1 “Media Computation” from Spring 2003 to Fall 2005 (Overall 85%) Architecture 46.7% 85.7% Biology 64.4% 90.4% Economics 54.5% 92.0% History 46.5% 67.6% Management 48.5% 87.8% Public Policy 47.9% 85.4%
  21. 21. We have sustained that pace Table 1: Ret ent ion dat a for Geor gia Tech’s M edia- Comp cour se f r om Fal l 2006–Fal l 2012 Female M ale Tot al Passing grades 2102 1659 3761 Fai l ing grades 208 235 443 Withdraw 30 46 76 DFW Total 238 281 519 % DFW-total 5.5% 6.5% 12% % DFW-set 10.1% 14.5% 12% that we were wrong. Whatever incites plagiarism, Media- Comp does not seem to impact plagiarism. 3. THE RETENTION HYPOTHESIS
  22. 22. UCSD’s PI+PP+MediaComp Experiment (SIGCSE 2013) • UCSD changed CS1 (quarter system) in 2008 to: • Peer Instruction • Pair Programming • Media Computation • Tracking students since 2001. • Increase retention of CS majors into second year by 30% (from 51% to 81%)
  23. 23. BS in Computational Media • Joint between School of Literature, Media, and Communications (Liberal Arts) and Computing. • 45% Female • Most gender-balanced ABET-accredited computing program in US
  24. 24. A Sample Lesson
  25. 25. How sound works: Acoustics, the physics of sound
  26. 26. Digitizing Sound: How do we get that into bytes? • Remember in calculus, estimating the curve by creating rectangles? • We can do the same to estimate the sound curve with samples.
  27. 27. Now let’s talk about information
  28. 28. • Get a sound and make an empty picture. • For each pixel in empty picture, • Get the next sample from the sound. • If the value is less than -2000, make the pixel blue. • if the value is greater than 2000, make the pixel red. • Otherwise, make the pixel green
  29. 29. Beyond Undergrad • Using creative expression to motivate elementary and secondary students. • And teachers.
  30. 30. AP CS A Picture Lab - Lots of Fun We just completed the Picture Lab and I wanted to take a moment to thank Barbara Ericson for all her hard work on such an engaging unit. We had a lot of fun working through the exercises. And there were plenty of interesting peripheral concepts that could be explored to whatever depth felt right. We worked in groups of 3 students. For each set of exercises, students could choose one problem to tackle. When they were done, they shared their solutions with the other 2. For an added challenge at the very end, I had them choose between the Green Screen, Hidden Message, and Pesky Tourist problems. Has anyone else worked though the unit and have any ideas to share? --Tonya Herron Anderson High School Cincinnati, Ohio
  31. 31. Summer Camp Collages
  32. 32. Summer Camp Collages
  33. 33. Summer Camp Collages
  34. 34. Summer Camp Green Screen
  35. 35. Summer Camp Green Screen
  36. 36. Teacher Collages
  37. 37. Teacher Collages
  38. 38. Teacher Collages
  39. 39. Teacher Green Screen
  40. 40. Other Creative Tools for K-12 • Scratch • Alice • LEGO Robots • Artbotics • EarSketch • Writing programs to remix music
  41. 41. Scratch – Elementary School
  42. 42. Scratch – Middle School
  43. 43. Alice – High School
  44. 44. Alice – High School
  45. 45. WeDo Spin Art
  46. 46. Drawing with Robots
  47. 47. ArtBotics • Use LEGO NXT and EV3 to make art • http://artbotics.cs.uml.edu/wordpress/?page_id =177 • https://www.youtube.com/user/Artbotics
  48. 48. EarSketch • Write programs to remix music • http://earsketch.gatech.edu
  49. 49. With thanks to our supporters • US National Science Foundation • Statewide BPC Alliance: Project “Georgia Computes!” http://www.gacomputes.org • Expanding Computing Education Pathways Alliance, http://expandingcomputing.org • CCLI and CPATH Grants, and now CE21 to produce new media • Georgia’s Department of Education • GVU Center, and Institute for People and Technology (iPaT) at Georgia Tech
  50. 50. Thank you! • http://www.cc.gatech.edu/~mark.guzdial http://home.cc.gatech.edu/csl • http://coweb.cc.gatech.edu/ice-gt For more on MediaComp: • http://www.mediacomputation.org

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