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Assessing the Impact of Using Robots in Education. How We Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Chaos. Douglas Blank and Deepak Kumar Bryn Mawr College. What is this paper about?. How can we introduce robotics and computer science to students in a way that is engaging and “fun”?

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Assessing the impact of using robots in education
Assessing the Impact of Using Robots in Education

  • How We Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Chaos

Douglas Blank and Deepak Kumar Bryn Mawr College

What is this paper about
What is this paper about?

  • How can we introduce robotics and computer science to students in a way that is engaging and “fun”?

  • Professors at Bryn Mawr conducted research on their computer science students to find out what aspects of computer programming students in an introductory course enjoyed or did not like.

  • By incorporating the Scribbler into their curriculum, they introduced a more creative, social, and chaotic take on Computer Science that they felt was not necessarily a bad thing- they described it as preventing the short-circuiting of the pedagogical process.

Bryn mawr and ipre
Bryn Mawr and iPre

  • The goals of the new introductory curriculum were:

  • 1. Let the needs of the curriculum drive the design of the robot.

  • 2. Use tools that are easy to use, scale with experience

  • 3. Treat the robot as a peripheral

  • 4. Create an accessible, engaging environment for a new,

  • diverse population of students

  • 5. Computer Science is not just Programming

  • 6. Make Computing a Social Activity

  • 7. Make computing a medium for creativity

  • 8. Performances vs. competitions

Chaos and natural development
Chaos and Natural Development

  • The professors at Bryn Mawr believed that allowing students to write their own code- no matter how inefficient or incomprehensible, was an important part of the process of learning how to do computer science. This chaos, as they called it, encouraged creativity and critical thinking.

  • They compared this process to the artist in the studio who dabbles around with different works, leaving some incomplete but all the while learning and processing the new experiences. This chaos leads to new ways of thinking and new ways of doing.

Programmer as the artist
Programmer as the Artist

  • “Therefore, we fully support the use of copy-and-paste,possibly dangerous uses of recursion, and generally whatever spaghetti code that they can cook up. Have we eschewed elegance in programming in service of the creative process? Perhaps.”

  • An artist who copies another artist’s stroke and composition will not necessarily be as successful as one who takes an original stance, but many artists learn by observing and recreating the works of a master.

  • The opening of this kind of stance made students with other original interests to try and be programmers than in other schools.

How successful is this
How Successful is This?

“We have gone from enrolling less than 5% of ourstudent body (of ~ 1300 students) in the introductorycourse each year to enrolling over 10% in the same courseat the end of three years. Enrollment in our CS2 course andother upper-level computer science courses has more thandoubled. We would be hard pressed to find 140 womenstudying introductory computing each year at even thelargest universities in this country.”

How can we apply this
How Can We Apply This?

  • Encourage creativity in the Scribbler curriculum. Instead of competitions, encourage the students to put on performances or dances with the Scribbler.

  • Allow and encourage collaboration in the classes when working on assignments.

  • Have source materials and sample codes readily available for students to use when they need help.

  • De-emphasize strict code regulations and organization, encourage the student to follow their natural process of doing things and discovering what works for them.