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UK-ICER20 keynote – Extra materials

By Steve Draper,   Department of Psychology,   University of Glasgow.

This page contains extra materials such as references related to my keynote "Reflections on Computing Education Research" at UK-ICER20.

There is a 2-page paper in the proceedings associated with the talk, which is or will be available here: doi:10.1145/3416465.3416466; or in automatically generated html; or as a local copy of a pdf.
The slides are here in pdf.

Typical papers have references giving empirical evidence, or occasionally precise theoretical statements, mainly to give authority to points they are asserting and relying on. However in this talk I am mainly trying to make interesting suggestions and/or connections. So here on this web page I am providing starting points for reading if you want to find out (and check) major ideas I mention, but may have used in non-standard ways. Furthermore quite a few references here are to books, which have not been peer reviewed in the normal sense. More fundamentally, with major thinkers it is the author that guarantees the value and especially the interest, not the review process. Some of Papert's papers have been preserved by his disciples, and exist on rather obscure websites – including for instance, grant applications where some of his arguments were first made. None of this makes them necessarily correct, but they are excellent ways to stimulate your thinking – even if you were to put a "not" in front of some key assertion.

Starting points for further reading: References related to the keynote

Generally here I try to give pointers, when I can offering short versions first, so that you can discover whether you want to do more reading.

  1. Reciprocal Peer Critiquing (RPC)
  2. Mazur's PI.

  3. For notes and references relating to Paul Nurse's estimate of the key theoretical advances in Biology see:

  4. Hannah Fry presented the 2019 Royal Institution Christmas lectures, available indefinitely on the RI website.

  5. For notes and references relating to CMU's study of women and computing science see:

    This needs to have Tinto added, as also a case of "belonging" and its effects on students via a type of motivation.

  6. Seymour Papert, whose PhD supervisor had been Jean Piaget, had a number of writings about the notion he sometimes called "constructiONism" (in contrast to "constructiVism"). These combined issues of concrete thinking (normally associated with young children) and its persistence in much older children (and indeed in adults) who are developing aspects of Formal thinking.

    He was clear about fun, and indeed love, associated with some objects and activities. He thus certainly was interested in connections between hobby activities and reasoning; and between both of these and developing formal reasoning and abstract concepts.

    A significant element in his thinking was the notion he adopted from Lévi-Strauss' of "bricolage" – roughly, the kind of DIY that handymen do, but which perhaps we do mentally rather than physically when first knocking together a new concept out of old and familiar pieces of old ideas that were originally used for something else.

    This is similar in fact to Darwin's theory of evolution. Contrary to shallow understandings of it (which only grasp the importance of being well adapted to an environment, and then equate "well adapted for" with "perfectly engineered for"), Darwin's theory says that an organism's form and function is the joint effect of the interplay of pressures (1) to adapt, and (2) of having inherited a body that was originally adapted for a different environment, and so inherits a lot of features which are poor solutions to current needs.

    Some references related to constructionism:

  7. Creativity. This needs to be finished properly.

    "Creative" is a word quite frequently thrown around in education; and often in a number of apparently disconnected contexts. However there is a good theory of it that makes many good points. (Here is my 13,000 word web page with references and my notes on Boden's analysis of creativity.)

    It's about novel combinations of old elements; NOT wholly new things.

    Boden's 4 conditions for creativity.

    Here's a list of points (to be filled in) on short basic things about how creativity intersects with education

    • Creativity / creation, constructionism: Making something makes you feel good; and it is applying knowledge not just learning to talk about it. Basically it boosts our feelings of self-efficacy (self confidence, ...).
    • Original to the whole culture, vs. original to oneself (re-invention).
      Personal vs. cultural creativity
    • Art school vs. sci: when creativity is an educational learning objective
    • Planning and creativity: is the human mind mostly about being able to plan; and how planning is essentially imagining something unreal, AND then making it come to pass and be real. What is the meaning of "realistic"?

    • Applying creativity to comp Progging.
      Steve Wheeler's blog
    • (Dewey) Realism principle (in children's motivation to learn) vs. creativity.

More interesting stuff

Pandemic / distance learning

  • Would textbooks be better?
  • Rethinking "distance learning"
  • Textbooks, Open textbooks
  • Manchester CS dept founded 1964 (first intake 1965) https://www.cs.manchester.ac.uk/about/history-and-heritage/ https://www.cs.manchester.ac.uk/about/history-and-heritage/history-in-depth/ "The logic piano" The Cambridge dept was founded as a "laboratory" not a "dept" in 1937, as the "mathematical lab". Bound up with the uni compService. https://www.cst.cam.ac.uk/history 1953 first taught course on computing. But first 1-year option for u/gs only in 1971.

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