EXP: Exploring Social Programming Environments in Early Computing Courses

PIs: Christopher Hundhausen, Olusola Adesope
Washington State University
Award Details

Washington State University will design and study the educational affordances of a social programming environment (SPE), a technology-rich learning environment centered around a social networking-style activity stream of learners’ problem-solving activities and progress. Through an iterative, participatory design process involving students and instructors at Washington State University, Pacific University, and Mesa Community College, this project will develop (a) an SPE to support learners as they work outside-of-class on the kinds of individual programming assignments that are the centerpiece of early computing courses; and (b) sets of practical guidelines and best practices to help instructors implement social programming assignments in their courses. This work will contribute new, theoretically-grounded accounts of how learning and participation proceed in social problem-solving environments, as well as empirical findings related to their impact on student learning outcomes, problem-solving processes, attitudes, and retention.

Building upon previous work adapting the studio-based learning model for computing education, the project staff aim to address low retention in computing degree programs by facilitating effective online learning communities for introductory computing courses. This project will result in two new open source technologies – a social plug-in for a computer programming environment, and a learning management system tailored for social programming that can be readily used in both K-12 and undergraduate computing education. While this project focuses on computing education, the novel social problem-solving technologies and the empirical findings of the research studies will be applicable to many STEM disciplines in which learners benefit by working individually on problems within a social environment.

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