Importance of Computers in Education

July 23, 2021

Tablets in schools: coding

CRA Report: The Importance of Computing Education Research

Steve Cooper organized a series of workshops (see blog posts here and here) exploring how we might grow computing education research within computing departments. How do we make sure that computing education research (CER) faculty succeed (e.g., get tenured and promoted)? How can we have CER PhD students within computing departments? Interesting to note that in Craig Wills’ recent analysis of CS department job ads, CS Education Research is in the “other” category. (Thanks to Yasmin Kafai for pointing this out.) Too few departments were interested in CS Ed to appear on his graphs.

This growth is an unparalleled opportunity to expand the reach of computing education. However, this growth is also a unique research challenge, as we know very little about how best to teach our current students, let alone the students soon to arrive. The burgeoning field of Computing Education Research (CER) is positioned to address this challenge by answering research questions such as:

  • How should we teach computer science, from programming to advanced principles, to a broader and more diverse audience?
  • How can we ensure that we retain this more diverse audience through inclusive pedagogy and generally more effective teaching?
  • How can teaching approaches and their assessment (regarding student learning) scale effectively?
  • What training should K-12 teachers receive? What methods have been shown to be effective?
  • How can computer science teaching adapt to how different people learn and build on age related learning progressions?
  • How should computing be taught and integrated into other disciplines?

We argue that computer science departments should lead the way in establishing CER as a foundational research area of computer science, discovering the best ways to teach CS, and inventing the best technologies with which to teach it. This is not only in the best long-term interest of our field, but also the long-term interests of society. This white paper provides a snapshot of the current state of CER and makes actionable recommendations for academic leaders to grow CER as a successful research area in their departments.

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