2006-2018 Same Issues Same Challenges
Personal Reflections of Computing Educators
However, in the studies we have conducted we found some encouraging results—high school computer science studies pave the
way for higher education in this field, that is, those students who
took high school computer science courses are more likely later to
pursue one of the computing disciplines. Interestingly, this is even
more pronounced with female students. This can consequently
lead to the realization that the efforts of introducing computer
science into schools are worthwhile and may help in encouraging
more women to become interested in the discipline and to continue their computer science studies at institutions of higher learning.
In addition, the perception of gender was found to be irrelevant to computer science abilities among both males and females. This indicates that something has been changed, since
males and females seem to agree on females’ abilities regarding
computer science and perceive them without gender bias.
It is our community’s duty to continue making progress. We believe that all students should be given the opportunity to be exposed to computer science at school, preferably at an early age.
The computer science curriculum should reflect the scientific aspects of the discipline, as well as its more practical applications.
It should be on a par with other STEM disciplines. Such an effort
will not only assist students to decide whether to take AP exams
in computer science or pursue this discipline further in their future education—it may also help in attracting more women into
the discipline and possibly alleviate the pay gap between genders.
It is also the duty of our community to ensure that the requirements of teachers certified to teach computer science will
follow high standards like other disciplines. Neither formal requirements nor proper methodological training should be omitted. Difficulties in recruiting qualified teachers should not lead
to the temptation to reduce high standards and requirements.
Many challenges await us now and in the future.
Department of Mathematics and Computer Science
The Open University of Israel
DOI: 10.1145/3230689 Copyright held by author/owner. Publication right licensed to ACM.
“TO TEACH IS TO TOUCH LIVES FOREVER”
This was the title of the keynote presentation I gave in 2006; it
was the name of a small booklet I had purchased several years
previously. It emphasized the importance of the teachers’ role
in our lives, and it expressed my belief that teachers constitute
the cornerstone of a successful implementation of any program
of study, at any level. When we designed the high-school curriculum at that time, we pointed out that teachers who were
certified to teach computer science must have a formal computer science education as well as the required methodological and pedagogical skills. Indeed, following various reports
published in recent years, the lack of qualified teachers is the
bottleneck inhibiting the introduction of computer science into
school systems. We are very familiar with the global efforts to
recruit well-educated and enthusiastic teachers to assist in this
GENDER IN THE CONTEXT OF COMPUTER
Another issue I addressed in my keynote was the gender issue
in the context of computer science. Here is what I said.
Actually, I never thought this to be an issue I would get
involved in. However, in recent years I came to realize
that the gender issue is really something that ought to be
dealt with in earnest. And I am not the only one. To quote
Fran Allen, the first woman to win the Turing Award,
“The decline of the number of women entering computer
science is a serious, national concern,” and I should add
a world-wide concern. Indeed, the dearth of women represented in computer science studies and in professional
occupations in the computing and hi-tech world is a fact
in many western countries.
Eleven years have passed, and we are still almost in the same
situation. We are still trying to address the issue of underrepresented communities, including women, in the computer science field.
High school computer science
studies pave the way for higher
education in this field, that is, those
students who took high school
computer science courses are more
likely later to pursue one of the
computing disciplines. Interestingly,
this is even more pronounced
with female students.
It is also the duty of our community
to ensure that the requirements
of teachers certified to teach
computer science will follow high
standards like other disciplines.