CSC News

October 29, 2015

Mentoring and Tutorials Help Transform CSC Education Research

Dr. Sarah Heckman, teaching associate professor of computer science at NC State University, has been awarded $406,557 by the National Science Foundation (NSF) to support her collaborative research proposal entitled “Transforming Computer Science Education Research Through Use of Appropriate Empirical Research Methods:  Mentoring and Tutorials."  Her collaborators are Dr. Jeffrey Carver from the University of Alabama, and Dr. Mark Sherriff from the University of Virginia.  The total amount of the award is $1.4 million.  
The award will run from September 1, 2015 to August 31, 2020. 
Abstract – The computer science education (CSEd) research community consists of a large group of passionate CS educators who often contribute to other disciplines of CS research. There has been a trend in other disciplines toward more rigorous and empirical evaluation of various hypotheses. However, many of the practices that we apply to demonstrate rigor in our discipline research are ignored or actively avoided when performing research in CSEd. This suggests that CSEd is “theory scarce” because most publications are not research and do not provide the evidence or replication required for meta-analysis and theory building. An increase in empiricism in CSEd research will move the field from “scholarly teaching” to the “scholarship of teaching and learning” (SoTL) providing the foundation for meta-analysis and the generation of theories about teaching and learning in computer science. We propose the creation of training workshops and tutorials to educate the educators about appropriate research design and evaluation of educational interventions. The creation of laboratory packages, “research-in-a-box,” will support sound evaluation and replication leading to meta-analysis and theory building in the CSEd community.
For more information on Dr. Heckman, click here.

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