ICER 2012 Research Paper Session 2

Ok, true confession time. My (and Katrina’s) paper was in this session and I’ll write this up separately. So this session consisted of “Adapting Disciplinary Commons Model: Lessons and Results from Georgia” (Brianna Morrison, Lijun Ni and Mark Guzdial) and… another paper. 🙂

The goals of the original disciplinary commons were:
  • To document and share knowledge about student learning in CS classrooms
  • To establish practices for the scholarship of teaching by making it public, peer-reviewed and amenable for public use. (portfolio model)
While the first goal was achieved, the second wasn’t as, although portfolios were produced, people just wanted to keep them private. However, they did
develop a strong and vibrant community, with associated change of practice as a result of participation. The next stage was a Disciplinary Commons for Computing Educators (DCCE, for Georgia), with the adaptation that this apply to both High School teachers AND university-level educators.
The new goals were:
  1. Creating community
  2. Sharing resources and knowledge of how things are taught in other contexts.
  3. Supporting student recruitment within the high school environment.
I was interested to learn that there is no Computer Science teaching certificate in Georgia, hence a teacher must be certified in another discipline, such as Mathematics, Science, and Business being most likely. (I believe this is what was said although on reviewing my notes, I find this a little confusing. I’m assuming that this is due to the transition into the Georgia teaching framework.)
The community results were very interesting, as the initial community formed where one person was the hub – a network but not a robust one! After working on this in year 3, a much more evenly distributed group was formed that could survive a few people dropping out.  Given that many of the students in the program had no (or very few) peers in the home university, these networks were crucial to giving them important information. Teachers who work in isolation need supporting networks – you can see what else someone does, and ask how they do it.
I love these community-building projects and the network example gave one of the fantastic insights into why regular progress and impact checks can make the difference between an ok project and a highly successful one. Identifying that a network based on one (hub) person is unstable and altering your practices to make the network graph more heavily meshed is an excellent adaptation that reinforces the key focus on this project: creating community.
I read a design magazine called Desktop, much to the amusement of my more design-oriented friends, and one of the smaller regular features is that of the desks and working environments of professional designers. As I try to learn more about this area, this helps give me some insight into the community and, because of this, it accelerates my development. The community project described in this paper allows people who are already trying to hold a presence in a tricky and evolving area by connecting them with people who have similar issues and joining all of them to a shared repository of knowledge and experience. It would be great to see more programs like this.

3 Comments on “ICER 2012 Research Paper Session 2”

  1. nickfalkner says:

    My apologies to Lijun Ni, a formatting error removed your authorship temporarily but it has now been corrected!


  2. Mark Guzdial says:

    Very few US states offer high school teacher certification in computer science. There is no federal-level teacher certification, so all teacher certification is state-by-state. In most states, computer science is part of Business, so having a Business certification allows one to teach computer science, but only a few states (like Maryland) have explicit CS certification. Georgia has an “endorsement” — you can’t be certified in CS, but you can get an “add-on” that says you know about teaching CS. Barb was chair of a CSTA Task Force that did a report on CS teacher certification:


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