3 Sept 2020 ............... Length about 2,000 words (16,000 bytes).
(Document started on 16 Aug 2020.)
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This page contains extra materials such as references related to my keynote
"Reflections on Computing Education Research"
There is a 2-page paper in the proceedings associated with the talk,
which is or will be available here:
automatically generated html;
or as a
local copy of a pdf.
The slides are here
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have not been peer reviewed in the normal sense.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.
- Reciprocal Peer Critiquing (RPC)
- Mazur's PI.
- This section
"Designing for discussion" within a longer web page
includes a summary of Mazur's "recipe", and continues with a short discussion
of "brain teasers" – the best type of question to provoke the educational
- Crouch, C.H. and Mazur, E. (2001), "Peer Instruction: Ten years
of experience and results", American Journal of Physics,
vol.69, no.9 pp.970-977
[Documents dramatic improvement in test results]
- Mazur, Eric (1997). Peer Instruction: A User's Manual
(Prentice Hall, Upper Saddle River, NJ)
- Smith,M.K., Wood,W.B., Adams,W.K., Wieman,C. Knight,J.K.,
Guild,N. & Su,T.T. (2009)
"Why peer discussion improves student performance on in-class concept
questions" Science vol.323 2 Jan. 2009 pp.122-124
[I.M.O. Best paper on Mazur's PI learning design – And also
shows that if you're good enough then CER papers can/could get published in
one of the 2 most cited journals in the world.]
- For notes and references relating to Paul Nurse's estimate of
the key theoretical advances in Biology see:
- Recording of a public talk in January 2018,
with a brief abstract within
this list of the series of lectures.
- His list of the key theoretical advances in Biology,
which has varied a bit over different public lectures, was
this time (despite the abstract) roughly:
- Cells are the fundamental unit of life
- Evolution by natural selection (Darwin)
- Gene theory (started by Mendel, whose work was
rediscovered in 1900 by three researchers independently).
- Seeing life as chemistry.
- Nurse suggested that something like the following
will soon emerge as a fifth theoretical advance:
that information management and systems theory
are the way to understand what goes on inside
cells (where there are typically a thousand different chemical
reactions going on in parallel in each cell, so studying them
individually is a hopeless approach).
Why might Paul Nurse's opinions be worth listening to? He has a
he has been President of the Royal Society;
he is director of the
also, he didn't
qualify for entry to any UK university; but fortunately for
science, someone with more interest in getting good students
than in following bad educational ideas bent the rules.)
- Hannah Fry presented the 2019 Royal Institution Christmas lectures,
available indefinitely on the RI website.
- 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.
- 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
He thus certainly was interested in connections between hobby activities and
reasoning; and between both of these and developing formal reasoning and
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:
- Papert, S.A. One list of his writings
- Papert, S.A. Another list of his writings
- Papert,S.A. (1990)
"A Critique of Technocentrism in Thinking About
the School of the Future"
A version of this piece was published as "M.I.T. Media Lab Epistemology and
Learning Memo No. 2" (September 1990).
Its content was based on a talk presented at Children in an Information
Age: Opportunities for Creativity, Innovation, and New Activities (Sofia,
Bulgaria, May 1987).
- Papert,S.A. (1995?)
"Why school reform is impossible"
- Papert,S.A. "Epistemological Pluralism and the Revaluation of the Concrete"
see (Turkle & Papert (1991))
- Papert, S.A. (1980) Mindstorms: Children, computers and powerful ideas
(Basic Books: New York).
The foreword ("The gears of my childhood") is here:
local copy and
- original web page.
[technoscepticism. Fascinating book anyway, a must for future teachers. ]
- Papert, S. & Harel, I. (1991) "Situating Constructionism"
Constructionism (Ablex Publishing Corporation) pp.193-206.
- Papert,S.A. (1993) "Instructionism versus Constructionism" ch.7 pp.137-156 in
The children's machine: rethinking school in the age of the computer
(Basic Books: New York)
- Turkle, Sherry & Papert,S. (1991)
"Epistemological Pluralism and the Revaluation of the Concrete"
Journal of Mathematical Behavior vol.11 no.1 pp.?
[Concrete vs. abstract reasoning.]
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
- 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.
More interesting stuff
Pandemic / distance learning
Would textbooks be better?
Rethinking "distance learning"
Textbooks, Open textbooks
Manchester CS dept founded 1964 (first intake 1965)
"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.
1953 first taught course on computing.
But first 1-year option for u/gs only in 1971.
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