[plt-scheme] Re: [plt-edu] Should computer programming be mandatory

From: Richard Cleis (rcleis at mac.com)
Date: Wed Oct 15 10:47:10 EDT 2008

On Wednesday, October 15, 2008, at 06:12AM, "Stephen Bloch" <sbloch at adelphi.edu> wrote:
>On Oct 14, 2008, at 2:25 PM, Matthias Felleisen wrote:
>> I recently exchanged email with a mathematics professor at BYU who  
>> studies education. He had dug out large-scale  studies (involving  
>> an entire school district in Indianapolis and part of a second  
>> school district elsewhere) that compared high school students who  
>> took course in English plus Latin with those who took only English  
>> courses. In several standard tests on English, the English+Latin  
>> students outscored the English-only students by leaps and bounds.  
>> -- The effect carries over to other __formal__ instruction on  
>> second languages, but it isn't as large. (I felt pretty good after  
>> reading his write-up, because I had defended the study of a second  
>> language in the Houston school district many times on this basis,  
>> but had always been rejected.) --
>> If given the chance, I'd love to prove this conjecture for  
>> TeachScheme! at the same scale.
>So would I.  The obvious people to address it are at Brown, where  
>they have two interchangeable beginning-programming sequences, one  
>functional-first and one objects-first, and they have enough students  
>to (potentially) get statistically significant results.  I don't have  
>the sample size, and (as of a few weeks ago) I don't have the  
>opportunity to teach functional-first to students who are going on to  
>subsequent programming courses.

Is performance in subsequent programming courses the only issue?  What if programming courses are mandatory because they can be used to generally teach how to solve problems whether or not a student is 'technical' at all, let alone a mathematician or a computer scientist?  In that light, comparing the effectiveness of teaching methods would require the evaluation of success in all courses.


p.s.  I can't read the other list, so forgive me if this comment is out of place.

>So, Shriram, how about it?  How difficult would it be to get and  
>analyze the data?
>Stephen Bloch
>sbloch at adelphi.edu
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