ACM Transactions on Computing Education

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A Crafts-Oriented Approach to Computing in High School: Introducing Computational Concepts, Practices, and Perspectives with Electronic Textiles

Fri, 02/28/2014 - 19:00
Yasmin B. Kafai, Eunkyoung Lee, Kristin Searle, Deborah Fields, Eliot Kaplan, Debora Lui

In this article, we examine the use of electronic textiles (e-textiles) for introducing key computational concepts and practices while broadening perceptions about computing. The starting point of our work was the design and implementation of a curriculum module using the LilyPad Arduino in a pre-AP high school computer science class. To understand students’ learning, we analyzed the structure and functionality of their circuits and program code as well as their design approaches to making and debugging their e-textile creations and their views of computing. We also studied students’ changing perceptions of computing.

Cybersecurity Education: Bridging the Gap Between Hardware and Software Domains

Fri, 02/28/2014 - 19:00
Marcin Lukowiak, Stanisław Radziszowski, James Vallino, Christopher Wood

With the continuous growth of cyberinfrastructure throughout modern society, the need for secure computing and communication is more important than ever before. As a result, there is also an increasing need for entry-level developers who are capable of designing and building practical solutions for systems with stringent security requirements. This calls for careful attention to algorithm choice and implementation method, as well as trade-offs between hardware and software implementations. This article describes motivation and efforts taken by three departments at Rochester Institute of Technology (Computer Engineering, Computer Science, and Software Engineering) that were focused on creating a multidisciplinary course that integrates the algorithmic, engineering, and practical aspects of security as exemplified by applied cryptography.

CSTutor: A Sketch-Based Tool for Visualizing Data Structures

Fri, 02/28/2014 - 19:00
Sarah Buchanan, Joseph J. Laviola, Jr.

We present CSTutor, a sketch-based interface designed to help students understand data structures, specifically Linked Lists, Binary Search Trees, AVL Trees, and Heaps. CSTutor creates an environment that seamlessly combines a user’s sketched diagram and code. In each of these data structure modes, the user can naturally sketch a data structure on the canvas just as they would on a white board. CSTutor analyzes the user’s diagrams in real time, and automatically generates code in a separate code view to reflect any changes the user has made. Additionally, the code can also be edited and any new code changes will animate the data structure drawn on the canvas.

Fiction as an Introduction to Computer Science Research

Fri, 02/28/2014 - 19:00
Judy Goldsmith, Nicholas Mattei

The undergraduate computer science curriculum is generally focused on skills and tools; most students are not exposed to much research in the field, and do not learn how to navigate the research literature. We describe how fiction reviews (and specifically science fiction) are used as a gateway to research reviews. Students learn a little about current or recent research on a topic that stirs their imagination, and learn how to search for, read critically, and compare technical papers on a topic related to their chosen science fiction book, movie, or TV show.

Computational Thinking in Elementary and Secondary Teacher Education

Fri, 02/28/2014 - 19:00
Aman Yadav, Chris Mayfield, Ninger Zhou, Susanne Hambrusch, John T. Korb

Computational thinking (CT) is broadly defined as the mental activity for abstracting problems and formulating solutions that can be automated. In an increasingly information-based society, CT is becoming an essential skill for everyone. To ensure that students develop this ability at the K-12 level, it is important to provide teachers with an adequate knowledge about CT and how to incorporate it into their teaching. This article describes a study on designing and introducing computational thinking modules and assessing their impact on preservice teachers’ understanding of CT concepts, as well as their attitude towards computing.