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Programming can provide motivating applications to engage students with learning in other subjects like precalculus and history, but existing programming languages are too hard. We work with teachers to design programming languages specific to tasks in secondary school classrooms, to make them adoptable, usable, and useful for students and teachers.

The long-term goal of this project is to provide access to computing education to all students (the “CS for All” movement, as coined by the Obama administration). The problem is that we have discovered that “access” isn’t the problem. In many states, nearly half of all high schools offer CS classes, but there is no state where more than5% of the students take any classes. If we want students to even see the possibilities of programming and computer science, we have to make it fit into other classes. An example: ANY history class in the United States is more diverse than the average CS class. The ratio of Black students taking AP CS Principles to those in AP US History is 1:5. For Hispanic students, it’s 1:14. AP CS Principles is 24% female. AP US History is 56% female. If we can create programming tools that History teachers find useful and will adopt, we will dramatically increase the number and diversity of US high school students who get the experience of trying programming.

The UARTS Faculty Engineering/Arts Student Team (FEAST) will be tasked with developing and evaluating task-specific programming language prototypes for use in integrating computing into high school and undergraduate classes. We have experience in creating programming languages that are highly usable and learnable, e.g., users are typically working successfully in less than 10 minutes after starting. During the upcoming 18 months, the team will assess several already-developed prototypes. Team members will run participatory design sessions where mathematics and social studies teachers are asked to interact with several prototypes, so that they can give usconcrete feedback on what works, what doesn’t, and what they would really like. Based on this feedback, the team will refine the prototypes to improve usability and performance.

Meeting Time
Mondays, 4:00-6:00pm

Students apply to a specific role on team as follows:

User Interface Design (2 Students)

Preferred Skills: Ability to sketch user interfaces or user scenarios, desire and interest in interviewing teachers and students (potential users), can help design and run participatory design sessions, can review notes from interview and focus group sessions to help identify needs and constraints on future designs, information visualization, typography, design drawing, sci-fi prototyping


User Interface Programming (3 Students)

Preferred Skills: Frontend design and implementation interest, JavaScript and UI framework experience a plus but not a requirement, willing to program quick and dirty prototypefor use with teachers and students in participatory design sessions

Likely Majors: CS, SI, COMM

Digital Media (2 Students)

Preferred Skills: Familiarity with data in digital media (e.g., any of RGB/HSV color implementations, sound sampling, MIDI), interest in data sonification and visualization


Education Assessment (1 Student)

Preferred Skills: Can help design and run participatory design sessions, can review notes from interview and focus group sessions to help identify needs and constraints on future design

Likely Majors: SI, EDUC, MATH

Faculty Project Lead

Mark Guzdial is a Professor in Computer Science & Engineering and Engineering Education Research at the University of Michigan. He studies how people come to understand computing and how to make that more effective. He was one of the founders of the International Computing Education Research conference. He was one of the leads on the NSF alliance “Expanding Computing Education Pathways” which helped US states improve and broaden their computing education. He invented and has written several books on the “Media Computation” contextualized approach to computing education. With his wife and colleague, Barbara Ericson, he received the 2010 ACM Karl V. Karlstrom Outstanding Educator award. He is an ACM Distinguished Educator and a Fellow of the ACM. His most recent book isLearner-Centered Design of Computing Education: Research on Computing for Everyone (Morgan & Claypool, 2015). He received the 2019 ACM SIGCSE Outstanding Contributions to Education award.

Students: 8


Summer Opportunity: Summer research fellowships may be available for qualifying students.

Citizenship Requirements: This project is open to all students on campus.

IP/NDA: Students who successfully match to this project team will be required to sign an Intellectual Property (IP) Agreement prior to participation in January 2021.

Course Substitutions: CoE Honors