Duke Summer Internship 2008

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					        CRA – CDC
Duke Summer Internship 2008

                   Adventures in Alice
              Programming for Grades 5 - 12
                      Gaetjens Lezin
                Professor Susan H. Rodger
                     Duke University
Computer Science Educational Research

• Sponsored by the National Science Foundation and IBM
   – NSF Grant ESI-0624642
• Goals
   – Obtain data about attitudes and how well middle school kids and
     teachers are able to learn Alice
   – Figure out how to use the tool Alice, a 3D virtual worlds
     environment with a drag-n-drop interface to teach students in grade
     5 – 12 introductory programming
   – Attract a diverse group of students to computer science and
     computing related careers
• Professor Susan H. Rodger - Computer
  Science Professor at Duke University
   – Director of Alice Workshop 2008 at Duke
• Don Slater - Computer Science Lecturer
  at Carnegie Mellon University
   Research Assistants (Alice Team)
– Gaetjens Lezin - Binghamton   – Jenna Hayes – Duke University
  University undergraduate        undergraduate

– Deborah Nelson - Duke
  University undergraduate
                                – Ruthie Tucker - Duke University

– Henry Qin - Duke University
                       Previous Work and Statistics
•   Rodger, Susan H. An Innovative Approach with Alice for Attracting K-12 Students to Computing.
    Recent Paper Publications for Susan H. Rodger. 7 May 2007. 14 July 2008
     – “According to the Computing Research Association’s fall 2000 report, 23,416 students
         selected Computer Science or computer engineering as their intended major”
     – U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
           • expect a 1.15 million rise in the number of IT jobs over the decade 2002-2012
•   Cooper, Stephen, Wanda Dann, and Randy Pausch. ALICE: A 3-D TOOL FOR INTRODUCTORY
    PROGRAMMING CONCEPTS. Apr. 200. July 2008
     – “It is easy to say that they do not know how to solve problems. But this is too simplistic.” -
         referring to student who are learning intro programming
•   Cooper, Stephen, Kenneth J. Goldman, Martin Carlisle, Myles McNally, and Viera Proulx. Tools for
    Teaching Introductory Programming: What Works? 2006.
     – “programming with purpose” - refers to animation building with Alice is attractive to kids
     – “With immediate feedback, we have seen students understand concepts more and our
         course can cover more concepts without losing valuable hands-on experience.”
•   Dann, Wanda, Stephen Cooper, and Randy Pausch. Objects: Visualization of
    Behavior and State. June 2003. <
     – “Alice is a rapid prototyping environment for 3D object behavior, designed to
         make it easy for novice programmers to develop interesting 3D animations
         and explore interactive 3D graphics”
•   Dann, Wanda, and Randy Pausch. Using Visualization To Teach Novices Recursion.
    July 2001. <>.
     – “Alice is a convenient and easy-to-use 3-D graphic animation tool that
         supports the pedagogical goals of the course, i.e. a fundamental introduction
         to objects, methods, decision statements, loops and recursion.”
•   Rodger, Susan H. An Innovative Approach with Alice for Attracting K-12 Students to
    Computing. Recent Paper Publications for Susan H. Rodger. 7 May 2007. 14 July
    2008 <>
     – “We address the issues of attracting and retaining diverse group of students
         (especially women and underrepresented minorities) in computing by
         teaching students the Alice programming language”
       Participating Research Sites
•   Durham, North Carolina - Duke University
•   Virginia Beach, Virginia
•   San Francisco, California
•   Denver, Colorado
•   Charleston, South Carolina
•   Oxford, Mississippi
• Teacher Training camp
   – Schedule
      • June 16 – June 20, 2008
      • June 23 – June 27, 200
      • Extended teacher camp and student camp
          – July 7 – 11 , 2008
          – July 14 – 18, 2008
      • 35 High School and Middle School teachers
      • Learn Alice
          – Listen to lecture and participate in activity
          – Create new Alice worlds to demonstrate concepts they have learned
      • Alice World Demonstration
          – Participate in animation shows to present the worlds they create
      • Create lesson plans
          – Must meet North Carolina public school standards
          – Review and critique each other’s lesson plans
    Week 1 Teacher Training Camp Alice Worlds

The Alice Interface and code   The Alice Animation

Alice World about math to demonstrate
                                        Alice World that demonstrates what
                                        round, floor, and ceiling functions do
                        Concepts Taught
• Example Topics Covered During the Camps
   – Introduction to using Alice
   – Motion (translation and rotation) during scene set-up
   – Problem Solving and Storyboard Design (Participants work on building a
     simple Alice storyboard)
   – Storyboard -> Code
   – Revisiting translational and rotational motion
   – Functions (built-in) and parameters
   – Interactivity and Events
   – Camera Control
   – Participants work on building a world for their storyboard
   – Repetition
   – 3D Animation Tips
   – Sound
   – Group reviews, discussions of storyboards (Storyboards on the wall)
   – Work Session: Build a world from storyboard (second one)
   – Animation Fair: Demo of Day 3-4 worlds
   – etc…
  Assessment and Data Collection
• Obtaining information about
• Pretest and posttest
   – teachers and students attitude towards computing is a
     very important part of the research project
   – Also test of knowledge on Alice to evaluate what they have
     learned from the workshop
• Grading and assessment
   – Completed tests were sent offsite to an evaluator in
   – The results will serve as a main assessment tool for the
     research study
   – The Alice Team at Duke University examined the student
     worlds that were made to assess what parts of Alice the
     students used
           Research Data Collection
• Database of Students and their Alice World information
   – Age, Gender
      • All tutorial information ex: how complete, extra objects added, general
      • Information on all the new worlds they created
          – Type of objects added
          – Number of objects added
          – Concepts used and number of times used
      • 35 students
      • 131 Alice worlds made
   – All Alice worlds created by students and teacher posted on
     Alice webpage
                      Charts and Graphs

                            Chart of tutorial information
Note that a large number students completed each tutorial (noted by the blue bars)
about the
used in
more then
half the
more than
4 times in
Only time and more research will show if the Alice approach will
in fact change the statistics and result in more students entering
computing majors and pursuing computer related careers. The
Alice Research Project 2008 at Duke University was a small part
of a big effort to work towards a total solution for solving the
growing problem of attracting and retaining a diverse group of
students to computer science and computing careers.

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