Mathematics and Computer Science

As attention in England (and elsewhere) turns to the World Cup, I’ve been reading a couple of books about the mathematical modelling of football: Anderson and Sally’s The Numbers Game and Sumpter’s Soccermatics. I’d recommend them both if you’re interested in learning more about some of the patterns in the data that football (i.e. soccer) generates. I suspect young (and not so young) people are already quite familiar with the computational modelling of football, not through books such as these, but through computer games such as FIFA and Football Manager. These games make extensive use of real data, and are excellent examples of what the English computing standards describes as ‘computational abstractions that model the state and behaviour of real world problems’

The parallel between mathematical modelling and computer programming is no coincidence: there are deep historical connections between computer science and mathematics, and these remain strong to this day. Doing mathematics, at its heart, is a two-step process of thinking about a problem and then manipulating symbols according to rules: before Turing’s day the symbol manipulation (typically arithmetic) was done by people called computers, since his time (in the real world, if not always in school), this work is done by machines called computers. In either case, it’s the thinking about the problem and its solution where the real mathematics lies. Similarly, programming is a two-step process: thinking about the problem and how to solve it (the ‘computational thinking’), and then writing the instructions (the code) which mean the solution can be carried out by a dumb machine.

In his classic 1957 text, How to Solve It, Polya identifies four principles for problem solving in mathematics: understand the problem, plan a solution, carry the plan and review or extend the solution. I think all of these apply to problem solving in computing, with all but the third stage sitting comfortably within most approaches to computational thinking. There’s much common ground between computer science and mathematics: both domains demand logical thinking and a systematic approach, both result in computation, and both draw on the idea of abstraction. In her 2008 paper, Wing drew a distinction between abstraction in computer science and abstraction in mathematics, indicating that in CS, abstraction was both more general and more practical than it is in mathematics.

For those teaching in elementary school, there are so many opportunities to exploit the connections between mathematics and computer science, as they’re likely to find themselves teaching both to their class. Papert’s turtle graphics have long had their place in the mathematics curriculum as well as providing what remains a great way into coding. Scratch introduces pupils to four quadrant coordinates. Away from programming, dynamic geometry software such as Geogebra or graphics programs like Pixlr can introduce the ideas of transformations. Pupils can be introduced to probability through simulations in Scratch or Excel, and statistics through online surveys and data logging with the micro:bit.

Further up the education system, it becomes harder to bridge the artificial gap between CS and mathematics, but it’s well worth the attempt. Take any mathematics investigation or open-ended problem and, after trying a few ideas with pencil and paper, explore how you might program a computer to solve it: personal favourites are problems like ‘how many ways can you make 50 cents using coins?‘, or ‘how many perfect shuffles does it take to get a 52 card pack back in order?‘ Modelling works well here too, perhaps showing how a ball bounces, or estimating pi through the ratio of random points inside to those outside a unit circle, to creating a class (and overloaded operators) to perform fractions arithmetic. All of these are great coding activities, but they’d also develop pupils’ mathematical understanding of these ideas.

There are some great resources out there for folks interested in linking mathematics and computer science more closely. Top of my list would go the Scratch Maths project for 4th/5th grade math from University College London, and the Bootstrap World courses for algebra and data science. It’s notable that both of these have taken impact evaluation very seriously.

Miles Berry, International Representative

OMSCS : On-line Masters of Science in Computer Science

I get a lot questions about the on-line program I am in at Georgia Tech. I thought I would share details about my experience to help others in our CSTA membership who might consider online education as a possible option for their own education. I know there are several CS teachers in CSTA in the same or a similar program who can also add to the discussion.

The OMSCS (Online Masters of Science in Computer Science) at Georgia Tech has broken through barriers, stereotypes, and obstacles and created a world class master’s program that not only has kept its academic integrity and rigor, but has done so at a cost that is tremendously lower than many on-campus programs. The program has been recognized world-wide for its innovative approach and financial model. A typical class runs about $800, including tuition and fees. Students have to complete 10 classes for a degree, putting the total cost of attendance at about $8000. Within those 10 classes, students are required to choose a specialization (Computational Perception & Robotics, Computing Systems, Interactive Intelligence, or Machine Learning), which usually means you have to choose some classes(usually 6 out of the 10) from a specific set of required classes. Most students take 2-3 years to complete their degree, but can take up to 5.

Yes, it’s different than being on campus. Yes, there are things we don’t get access to. No, we cannot go to football games. We don’t have student IDs (I don’t think). Classes have the same expectations of rigor online as they would on-campus. There is freedom to choose which classes to take, and in what order. Classes tend to be project-based, very student-driven. Not all classes in the entire CS program are offered online; currently, there are about 30 class offerings. Any class that is offered has to be “converted” to this online format. We use the same system to register and get grades as other students at Georgia Tech. Each class is different, but many of them take advantage of Udacity for regular “lecture.” The designers of the program have coached the class professors how to record interactive and engaging videos for class. These videos are broken up into bite size chunks never more than a few minutes in length…and they are not dry and monotonous. Many include interactive quizzes embedded in each video. We are able to sense the passions, intonation, and enthusiasm of the professors. Having completed a MOOC with some terrible prerecorded lessons, I have thoroughly enjoyed this online experience.

Tests and exams are always administered online with a 4-day window (you can usually take it anytime from Friday- Monday night) and uses software called ProctorTrack which virtually eliminates the possibility of cheating. With all the obvious possible opportunities for dishonesty with a 100% online class, the program takes it extremely seriously; the honesty element is a regular topic of discussion. In fact, what I notice is that the students themselves take pride in the sense of honor that we all embrace as members of the program.

I have had every type of educational experience possible. I have had theoretical classes with lots of textbook reading, quizzes, and tests. I have had classes with no tests at all, but lots of writing assignments. I have had classes with only a midterm and an exam. I have had classes with large group projects. I have had classes with large individual projects. I have had projects that lasted days, weeks, and even months. I have had classes with required graded homework and classes with ungraded homework. I even had one class where we found out the one of the TA was actually a “virtual assistant.” The one thing every class has in common is that they are all very challenging and expect your undivided attention. I spend anywhere from 10-30 hours per week on a typical class.

One of the major drawbacks that I have experienced is simply not having the inter-student conversations, overhearing a fellow student question to the professor, hanging out after class to talk about ideas with fellow students, chatting with the professor before class for a lesson clarification, or impromptu collaborating in the lab while working on projects.

Once students have found their way into the first class, they quickly learn that the online discussion board, PIAZZA, is the lifeblood of the program. The board is heavily monitored by TAs every day all day. Most classes have lots of (T)eaching (A)ssistants to handle the 100-200 students in the class. Students are also heavy contributors, but not only posting questions…..they are actually equally as active responding to others. In fact, some classes require (or encourage) participation in Piazza. In some classes, we’ll even have responses from the professor. Without giving away too much in the response (honor part plays a part here as well), fellow students give hints, explanations, and advice to each other. Students truly feel like they are in this together. Each class also has a SLACK channel for instant communications for those that prefer that style of medium. TAs also monitor these channels, so students will post questions here as well.

Some classes offer office hours (by TA or the professor) several times throughout a week through Piazza, SLACK, or Bluejeans.

Grading is exactly the same as it would be on-camopus. Any grade can be challenged by asking for a regrade, as long as there is a valid explanation for the request. This happens all the time. Because it is online and there are students from all over the world, most classes usually give at least a week notice for most assignments, giving students the ability to manage class with full time jobs (which many students have). That gives us time to research, plan, and struggle with the projects.

Students who complete 10 courses successfully earn a Master’s Degree, which is the exact same degree earned by on-campus students. Students are offered the chance to come to campus to graduate with fellow classmates during the regular graduation.

Doug Bergman headshot - Gr. 9 to 12 teacher representative

Doug Bergman – 9 to 12 teacher representative


Doug Bergman
9-12 Representative

Big Wins for CS Policy in 2018

It’s been amazing to see the power of teacher voice finally getting the respect it deserves this spring. In states across the country teachers have come together to speak with one voice and policy makers have listened.

Although not as high profile, the same is true in the amazing policy gains for computer science education. Teachers across the country have come together to make sure their students have access to high quality computer science courses.

Just since January, 20 states have passed new laws or initiatives to support computer science, and many of those would not have happened without the the direct work of local CSTA chapters and members. I wanted to highlight three states where CSTA chapters and their leadership played a key role in this work:

  • Arizona
    Arizona CSTA president and state board of education member Janice Mak along with vice-president Brian Nelson have been a tireless champions for CS education. The chapter co-hosted a “Coding at the Capitol” event where students could program with state Senators. Thanks to their work with a coalition of leaders in the state, the Arizona Department of Education is developing standards for computer science education (I’ve got a great idea of where they can start) and the state funded $1 million for computer science education. I hope to see CSTA members participate in the standards writing process.

  • Hawaii
    The recently launched Hawaii CSTA chapter acted as a hub for the CS community to meet regularly was part of the larger CS coalition that encouraged the state board of education to adopt the CSTA standards. Many CSTA members were part of the state working group and were present when the Board adopted the new standards.

  • New Jersey
    The state’s new requirement that every high school teach computer science is the culmination of 5 years of grassroots advocacy from the three NJ CSTA chapters. They worked together to craft a policy vision for the state and built a steering committee that effectively communicated their vision to all stakeholders. Over that time they also changed policy for CS to count towards a math graduation requirement and update the state’s computer science standards. Next up is a bill the CSTA chapters helped draft that would create a new CS teaching endorsement.

These are just a few of the amazing stories that are the result of a teacher led movement. I’m so proud of the work that local CSTA chapters and members have done in the policy space, and if you’d like to be more involved in advocacy work consider engaging with our advocacy committee. There’s a wave of policy decisions to be made in computer science education and it’s essential we work together to ensure teacher voices are heard when these decisions are made.


Jake Baskin
Executive Director CSTA

The What, When & Where to Implement a CS course

Great things are happening for Computer Science (CS) education these days. It is exciting to see news and posts about more schools & districts incorporating CS courses. However, with the increasing speed that technology is changing and the more embedded it becomes in our everyday life, the conversation now derives on when and what to teach. The conversation also includes what knowledge or profile should a CS teacher have. There is no magic formula to incorporate CS into a school.  Every school is different, every group of students is different, and every teacher is different.

The whole idea of CS education is to introduce our students to the wonderful world of being creators of technology. Most of us are avid technology users and especially our students which are digital natives. So, what should a school or teacher take into consideration to begin their CS courses. Where does it fit in the curriculum? Are the credits part of math, science, STEM? What background should the teacher have? Should CS courses begin in elementary, middle school or high school or even younger?

So, what should we teach? Should we implement an introductory CS course? A programming, engineering, robotics, or a web and game design course? Should digital citizenship be part of it? Well, there is no curriculum in a box that would fill everybody’s needs, although there are organizations such as Code.org, CS for All, Oracle, to name a few that are producing and publishing material and provide professional development doing an amazing job orienting teachers, schools and districts on how to successfully implement CS.  It is also important to know that there is a huge community going through the same process and there are organizations such as CSTA that also support teachers in this endeavor.  Another option is to develop their own curriculum taking into consideration the school’s budget, student’s needs and teacher’s experience, but to be able to do that there will usually be the need to have an expert in curriculum development that can analyze all these needs and customize how a CS course will be implemented. There is not a standardized profile for a CS teacher, some won’t even have a CS background, which is not a requirement, but it is important to have a notion on teaching critical and computational thinking.

Before starting is important to know the school, district, students and teachers.  Once there is a clear picture, identifying if there is already a faculty member familiar with the school culture and environment who can fit into the profile of CS teacher the school needs. Determining standards, content and scheduling will come next. Some schools start CS as an elective course until they are ready to embed it into their regular course load, which is a good option. The ideal is to introduce CS on the lower grades, so the expectation and content to be taught in the upper grades can become either a college preparatory course or fulfilling the skills to be able to work developing different kinds of technology while still in high school or while in college, allowing them to start having an income at this age. Some schools have a one to one program established, some have computer labs, and some have devices that can be reserved and checked out from a media room or library. Depending on the type of devices that the school or district counts with is where the decision to what kind of software or online product can be used for the course. Fortunately, more and more there are products and resources available on a browser version and can be used with most devices that have an Internet connection and can be opened with most common web browsers.

In the end, each school or district must create its own customized blueprint that will work for taking advantage of all the resources and communities out there to help.


Michelle Lagos
Representative at Large

CSTA Annual Conference in Omaha

If you haven’t already registered to attend the CSTA Annual Conference on July 7-10, I hope you are planning to do so soon. CLICK TO REGISTER This is the first time the conference has been held in Omaha, which is hard to imagine given that the city’s nickname is “The Big O.” You would think every CS-related conference would want to be here. If this will be your first visit to Omaha, prepare to be impressed with a modern, friendly Midwestern city. I’ve lived in Omaha (technically, in the suburbs) for 18 years now, and will be happy to serve as your tour guide. Here is my top 5 list of things you need to see when you come to Omaha this summer:

  1. Henry Doorly Zoo & Aquarium: If you have any flexibility in your schedule, you absolutely have to go to the Henry Doorly Zoo. Rated the world’s best zoo by TripAdvisor, it has something that will appeal to everyone. It houses one of the largest indoor rain forests, the world’s largest nocturnal exhibit and swamp, one of the world’s largest indoor deserts (inside the world’s largest geodesic dome), the largest cat complex in North America, a walk-through aquarium, and a penguin house that is wonderfully cool in the summer. Unfortunately, it closes at 6pm, so try to come a day early or stay a day late to visit the best zoo in the world!
  2. Old Market: This historic district is only a 4-5 block walk from the conference hotels, so it will be an easy destination throughout the week. The four square-block district contains a wide variety of restaurants, bars, art galleries, and upscale shops, while still maintaining the feel of Omaha’s past as a frontier city and trade center. Some of my favorite destinations are Blue Sushi, which has a great happy hour (and awesome vegetarian sushi), Wheatfield’s Eatery and Bakery, which is famous for its breakfasts and desserts, and Hollywood Candy, which has every kind of candy there ever was.
  3. Bob Kerrey Pedestrian Bridge: The conference site, the CenturyLink Center, and the conference hotels are right on the Missouri River. There are walkways and parks on both sides of the river and a 3,000-foot pedestrian bridge that connects the Nebraska and Iowa sides. Be sure to take time to stroll across the award-winning bridge and visit another state!
  4. Durham Museum: Located on the far side of the Old Market, only 0.7 miles from the conference site, is the Durham Museum. The region’s premier history museum is housed in Union Station, an art deco train station built in 1898. If you don’t have time to take in the exhibits, at least pop into the lobby and enjoy the architecture.
  5. Road to Omaha Statue: Right next to the conference center and hotels is TD Ameritrade Park, which is home to the College World Series every June. This is my favorite time of the year, when fans from the eight best college baseball teams take over Omaha for two weeks. Obviously, you will not be there for this event (maybe next year?), but you can get your picture taken with the famous Road to Omaha statue outside the stadium.

So, register now and I’ll see you in July.

Dave Reed
Past Chair, CSTA Board of Directors

Assessing computing

When assessing students’ learning in computing, I think we’ve a couple of approaches. One would be to look at the projects students do, whether these are open ended, design and make tasks or more constrained solutions to problems we pose, perhaps assessing these against agreed criteria or using a rubric. The other is to ask questions and use their answers to judge what they’ve learnt: these questions can be quite open, or perhaps as straightforward as multiple choice. I think a good assessment strategy ought to draw on both approaches: we want students to be able to work creatively on extended projects, and we also want to check, from time to time, whether they can remember the things they’ve been taught.

Responses to questions certainly have a place in summative assessment at the end of a course, but I think they’ve much to offer for formative assessment before, during and after lessons or units of work:

  • How can we tell that students have made progress? By their doing better on questions at the end of a topic than they did at the beginning.
  • How can we tell if they’ve understood the idea we’ve explained? By getting responses from a carefully designed, hinge-point question straight after our introduction.
  • How can we engage students in a meaningful discussion about CS ideas? By having them work together to answer good questions?

Lots of teachers are doing this sort of thing already – writing their own questions to ask their class, or just making these up on the spur of the moment. That’s fine, but coming up with good questions is surprisingly difficult, and it’s not particularly efficient having lots of teachers all doing this independently of one another, when a divide and conquer approach to question writing would work, if only teachers could share their questions with one another.

For the last couple of years, CSTA’s UK little sister, Computing At School (CAS) has been working with assessment experts at Durham University, Cambridge Assessment and EEDI to crowd-source an ‘item bank’ of quick fire questions that teachers can use with their classes. We’ve standardised on four response multiple choice questions (a format that US-based members of CSTA are likely to be quite familiar with already), and have adopted EEDI’s Diagnostic Questions (DQ) platform for hosting the questions, making it easy for teachers to compile questions into quizzes and assign these to their classes.

Access to the questions, and use of the DQ platform is free for anyone. The questions are released under a Creative Commons licence, so teachers are able to embed these in their own virtual learning platform or presentation software if they wish, but our hope is that students attempt these on the DQ site, so we can use the data from hundreds of thousands of students attempting thousands of questions to work out how hard each questions is, whether a question is good at discriminating between stronger and weaker students, and where common misconceptions are in school level computing.

As I write, we’ve some 8,049 questions online: mostly covering middle / high school CS, but there’s some coverage of elementary school CS and of information technology and digital literacy – I’d really encourage you to register on the DQ site and have a browse of what we’ve got: you can filter down through different aspects of CS, and sort questions by most likes, most answered, most misconceptions etc. It’s easy enough to add questions to a quiz of your own, and we’ve got 384 shared quizzes which are free to use too. Once you’ve registered, you can access the questions at bit.ly/quantumquestions.

We’re already getting some insights from students’ answers to the questions, highlighting the areas of the CS that students seem to struggle with, such as understanding variable assignment, code tracing and data types. We’re also running Rasch analysis on students’ responses, and plan to use this to identify lower quality questions, as well as making it easier for teachers to find questions suited to their students’ current level of achievement.

It’s a crowd sourced project, and so we’d be very glad to have more questions: I’d be glad to support anyone interested in getting their questions onto the site, or who’d be interested in learning more about writing good questions. If you’d like to learn more about the project, check out bit.ly/projectquantum, or watch the seminar Simon Peyton Jones and I gave at Cambridge Assessment last month.

My Journey With CS

I’d like to get personal for this post.  My last post was about state-level CS policy.  I’ve been engaged in this work for the last few years at the NH Department of Education.  This time, I’ll talk about the path that took me to this work, and where I’m going from here.  My goal here is to highlight what CS has done for me. My path has been far from traditional, and it might help to illustrate that CS is not just a path to software engineering.  So here goes…

How I got into computers

My dad worked for the cable company.  He studied electronics when he was a teenager, but never got to complete his studies.  He started at the cable company much later in life as a lineman and worked his way up to a role in which he was designing communication infrastructure for central NH.  We always had the latest electronics, and when I was a teenager, we were the first house in our town to have broadband internet.

I took a programming class in 9th grade, and I hated it.  I don’t remember exactly why, but I told myself that wasn’t something I would do.  I didn’t write a line of code again until college.

Studying CS

When I went to college, I was undeclared in the College of Engineering & Physical Sciences.  A semester in, I declared Computer Engineering, and later switched to CS. Why was CS different for me the next time around?  I’m not sure. Maybe it was the professors or TAs. Maybe it was the Engineering survey course I took when I was undeclared, which helped me to see the big picture of how CS impacts the world.

In the higher levels I took as many interdisciplinary courses as possible.  My school offered me a research assistantship to work on data visualization for physics simulations, so I stuck around to work on my MS degree.

Teaching

I’m not sure if my lack of focus is a good thing or a bad thing, but after almost 6 years of college, I still didn’t know what I wanted to do, so I took a leave.  I worked a few brief stints in industry, but wasn’t passionate about what I was working on. I realized that teaching & learning are what drive me, so I decided to teach.  It wasn’t hard for me to become a HS math teacher, and I was in the classroom in no time. Unfortunately, I had no idea what I was doing!

I got my legs under me, and then had an opportunity to switch schools and teach more CS.  This was amazing for me. I got to rediscover what I love about CS, and reinvent myself as a teacher.  I was in this job when the Obama administration announced the CSforAll initiative. I was introduced to equity issues in CS while participating in an NSF-funded research project.  The principal investigator on that project became a mentor to me. I started advocating for broader participation in CS at my school.

Advocacy & Policy

I caught wind of a state-level job that was opening up: STEM Education Director.  I thought this would be a great opportunity to work on broadening participation statewide.  I got the job in part because of my experience and goals in CS education, and my connections with local leaders.

The mentor mentioned above brought me onto our state team in the ECEP (Expanding Computing Education Pathways) Alliance.  This team established the CS4NH Alliance. With a strong team in NH and national support from groups like CSTA, ECEP, CSforAll, and Code.org, we’ve made great progress in short time.  

The Next Chapter

With inspiration from the many amazing people I’ve had a chance to work with, I decided to apply to doctoral programs.  In the fall, I’ll be going back to school and start working on a project funded by NSF under the STEM + Computing Partnerships program.  Wherever this leads me, I hope to inspire and empower the next generation of CS educators.

And the moral of the story is…

I hope you take something of value away from this story.  Here are a few that come to my mind as I write this:

    • Apply your CS skills and knowledge in other domains.  CS has helped me to analyze not just explicitly computational processes and computing systems, but also teaching and learning processes, and complex systems like our public education system.
    • Connect with CS innovators and be a sponge.  I’ve been inspired and mentored by CS innovators and educators.  I truly believe that the CS Education community has some of the most amazing, supportive people in the world.
    • Keep your ear to the ground.  Keep track of what’s going on and what opportunities are out there.  Follow your muse!

 

 

CS educators and advocates – keep on innovating, and share your story!

David Benedetto


David Benedetto, At-large Representative

Tapestry Workshops: Diversity-focused Professional Development

When my children were growing up, I remember Teacher Professional Development time as days when I had to remember not to send them to school! (lol)! After joining the CSTA Board, I learned how absolutely critical these Professional Development opportunities are in keeping our teachers excited, engaged and current in their classrooms.

My former UVA colleague and dear friend Jim Cohoon and his late wife Joanne McGrath Cohoon developed a diversity-focused professional development workshop for high school computer science teachers who are interested in attracting and retaining more and diverse students to computing. The Tapestry Workshop has been successfully enabling teachers since 2008 and financial support is available.
The 2018 Tapestry Workshop application is now open but closes April 2, 2018 so time is short!
Many thanks to Leslie Cintron for her words below.

What is a Tapestry Workshop Diversity-Focused Professional Development for High School Computing Teachers?

Tapestry Workshops (tapestryworkshops.org) are diversity-focused professional development workshops for US high school computing teachers. The workshops focus on providing research-supported training and motivation for high school computer science teachers to attract and retain more and diverse students to computing. Tapestry Workshop participants learn about proven practices for increasing the number and diversity of students in high school computing classes. In addition to learning about evidence based diversity-focused strategies for teaching computing, participants discuss teacher challenges and how to overcome them. The multi-day workshop allows participants to actively engage with peer teachers and to reinforce and integrate inclusive pedagogical strategies into their teaching.

Why Focus on Teachers?

By focusing on teachers, Tapestry Workshops produce measurable and ongoing improvements in computing diversity. Teaching the teacher ultimately affects many more high school students than direct student intervention would affect. Since 2008, in excess of 600 teachers have received Tapestry Workshop training. Independent evaluation shows that after taking a Tapestry Workshop more than 80% of workshop participants report enrolling more Computer Science students in general, and more female and under-represented minority students in particular.

Apply for the Tapestry Workshop

This year, thanks to generous support of the National Science Foundation, NCWIT and the Infosys Foundation USA, Tapestry will offer an enhanced 5-day Tapestry Workshop at the Pathfinders Summer Institute 2018, July 15-20, 2018, in Bloomington, Indiana. The Infosys Foundation USA is generously covering 50% of all expenses (including tuition, airfare, accommodation and meals) for each Tapestry Workshop participant from a US public high school. Full scholarships are also available.
To apply go to Pathfinders Summer Institute 2018 at infypathfinders.org and choose “Tapestry Workshop”.
The deadline for applications is April 2, 2018, but Tapestry is accepting participants on a rolling basis. Enrollment is limited, so high school computing teachers are encouraged to get applications in soon and tell your colleagues too!

Can’t make Tapestry at Pathfinders Institute but still want to participate or host a Tapestry Workshop? Contact the Tapestry team at lighthousecc.tapestry@gmail.com or jpc@virginia.edu

Jane Prey
ACM Representative


Jane Prey, ACM Representative

What does CSforAll mean for teacher preparation programs?

In a CSTA Voice article last year, I argued that a goal of CSforAll students means we also need to have CSforAll teachers. There are many professional development efforts underway that target existing teachers such as those supported by the National Science Foundation for courses like Exploring Computer Science and Computer Science Principles and for curricula like Bootstrap, Project GUTS, and Everyday Computing. However, these are not long-term sustainable models. In addition to in-service programs, computer science needs to be integrated as a part of pre-service, or teacher preparation, programs.

Change is Coming

Many states are adopting student standards and teacher credentialing in computer science. In 2017, the Iowa Department of Education established a working group to create computer science standards, Ohio required the state board to adopt K12 CS standards, and Tennessee created an endorsement in CS. These are among many legislative efforts (described at code.org/promote) that have an impact on teacher preparation programs.

Because the United States has a distributed control model of education, this means that teacher preparation programs are driven by state requirements for licensure. When states adopt new standards and licensure requirements, teacher preparation programs need to be ready to teach those new standards and prepare students for licensure.

Models for Integrating CS

So, how can teacher preparation programs meet the growing demand for K12 CS teachers? Some schools have included a module on computational thinking in existing tech integration courses while others are integrating CS across the curriculum. Some schools target secondary STEM education majors while others want all education majors to have some experience. Each school will need to grapple with their state context and their own program structures to determine a model that will work. Ideally, all pre-service teachers will have a basic understanding of computer science as a discipline, its impact on our society, and key equity issues that impact it.

Last spring, a group of leading experts in computer science education gathered for the Finding a Home for Computing Education in Schools of Education Strategy Workshop. The report synthesized the conversations and existing efforts and will suggest frameworks and models for integrating CS in the field of education at the post-secondary level. Videos from the workshop are available now and the report will be released April 12, 2018, on computingteacher.org.

A Role for Classroom Teachers

Integrating CS in teacher preparation programs will be a massive effort that requires many people from a variety of areas to make it successful. Education faculty may not have had much experience in computer science and, just like our students, may feel quite intimidated by the subject. The CSTA community is a great resource for them!

If you’re a current classroom teacher, you could:

  1. Host students for field experiences that include a CS component
  2. Connect with your local college education programs to help them develop programs to meet new licensure and certification requirements
  3. Share your experiences with students considering a career in CS teaching through guest lectures or mentoring programs
  4. Teach college courses related to CS education

Jennifer Rosato


Teacher Education Representative