Contextualized approaches to introductory computer science: The key to making computer science relevant or simply bait and switch?

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution

10 Scopus citations

Abstract

America's youth perceive Computer Science to be difficult, tedious, boring, irrelevant and asocial. Unfortunately, many traditional introductory Computer Science classes and textbooks do little to improve that image. In contrast, contextualized approaches to teaching introductory Computer Science are very attractive. Instead of writing a leap year program, students can learn about conditional statements by programming a robot to follow a light, or by creating an animation to tell a story, or even by modifying a picture of the college president so that she is wearing a neon orange jacket instead of a navy blue one. The arguments in favor of contextualized approaches to attract non-Computer-Science-majors to our classes are very persuasive. But what about students who then choose to major or minor in Computer Science? Of course we want to offer them interesting and engaging first courses in Computer Science, and indeed this may help with our efforts to attract more students to our programs. But what happens in subsequent semesters? The purpose of this paper is to initiate a general discussion on the use of any sort of "cool" new approach into both undergraduate and K-12 Computer Science education. These approaches successfully attract students to study subjects that we ourselves are deeply engaged in. But we need to discuss as a community what happens to students who do choose to major or minor in Computer Science when our individual classes conclude and the rest of their studies commence.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationSIGCSE'11 - Proceedings of the 42nd ACM Technical Symposium on Computer Science Education
Pages177-182
Number of pages6
DOIs
StatePublished - Apr 19 2011
Event42nd ACM Technical Symposium on Computer Science Education, SIGCSE 2011 - Dallas, TX, United States
Duration: Mar 9 2011Mar 12 2011

Publication series

NameSIGCSE'11 - Proceedings of the 42nd ACM Technical Symposium on Computer Science Education

Other

Other42nd ACM Technical Symposium on Computer Science Education, SIGCSE 2011
CountryUnited States
CityDallas, TX
Period3/9/113/12/11

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Computer Science (miscellaneous)
  • Education

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