Five Big Open Questions in Computing Education
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Kim B. Bruce
Pomona College - Computer Science
333 N. College Way
Claremont, California USA 91711
DOI: 10.1145/3230697 Copyright held by owner/author. Publication rights licensed to ACM
oriented IDE’s or even fall back to vanilla text editors and the
As noted earlier, in the 70’s and 80’s introductory classes were taught in languages designed for that purpose. Why
not return to that practice? After all, programming languages
now are typically even more complicated than the industrial-strength languages of that era. Several of my research colleagues and I found this a compelling argument several years
back and were inspired to work on designing and implementing a language, Grace (see http://web.cecs.pdx.edu/~grace/
doc/), designed for teaching novices the object-oriented style
While we have been very happy with the results, we were
very dismayed that few would even consider using a language
designed for teaching. It wasn’t that they looked at Grace and
decided it didn’t meet their needs. Instead, they wouldn’t consider teaching in a language that wasn’t in wide usage in industry. Have things changed so much since the 70’s and 80’s
that we should no longer teach using a language designed for
Yes, our students will eventually benefit from learning tools
(whether IDE’s, languages, or others) that are in common use
in industry. However, that does not have to happen during the
first semester of their degree programs. Don’t we, as educators,
have an obligation to investigate (and develop as necessary) the
tools that will help our students learn the key concepts of our
discipline? Limiting ourselves from the very first day to tools
that are in use by highly trained professionals might prevent us
from discovering new and better ways of helping our students
I’d like to thank my friends and colleagues who responded generously to my request for
their views on the important problems in CS education—Andrea Danyluk, Scot Drysdale,
Michael Kölling, and Kathy Fisler.
Don’t we, as educators, have
an obligation to investigate (and
develop as necessary) the
tools that will help our students learn
the key concepts of our discipline?
Limiting ourselves from the very
first day to tools that are in use by
highly trained professionals
might prevent us from discovering
new and better ways of helping
our students learn.